JOINT ACTION FRONT (JAF)
[the Pro-Labour civil society organisations in Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO)]
Calls on Nigerians - Workers, Women, Youths & Students, Traders, Artisans, Professionals, Transporters, Muslims, Christians & Traditional Believers and People of Good Conscience
· REJECT Planned Increases in Fuel Prices!
· DEMAND Nationalisation of the Oil Sector under Democratic Control by the Working People!!
· PREPARE for a General Strike and Mass protest Now!!!
FUEL SUBSIDY IS FRAUD! REJECT IT!!
Despite all its pretence to better the lot of Nigerians, it should now be clear to all that the Government of Goodluck Jonathan is resolved to worsen the suffering of ordinary Nigerians with the planned increases in the prices of petroleum products, using the guise of removal of a (non-existent) fuel subsidy.
The argument so far canvassed by Government is that it is only a cabal of profiteers who benefit from the subsidy. This statement alone exposed the Jonathan Presidency as irresponsible and anti-poor. This means that Government, with all the apparatuses of power at its disposal, cannot deal with the profiteers and private sharks who have been looting funds appropriated in the name of subsidy. Instead, the anti-poor Government is desperate to unleash high fuel prices on the ordinary people, who will now pay for the greed and super profit of these cronies of top government functionaries; some of who are financiers of the ruling PDP.
The price increases which will be imposed any moment from now and which will be as high as N150 per litre of petrol, will definitely affect the living conditions of the working masses and compound our hardships. We must therefore be prepared to do everything within our capacity to REJECT it.
WHY NIGERIANS SHOULD NOT PAY MORE FOR FUEL?
In spite of huge oil revenue, particularly since 1999 which has been the longest run of oil windfall in the history of Nigeria, successive regimes (Obasanjo-Yar Adua-Jonathan) have failed to build new refineries and deliberately rendered the existing ones inefficient and under-functional.
Nigeria has the notorious record of being the only petroleum producing country that cannot meet the fuel demands of its citizens. Though we have four refineries, they are so poorly maintained that their total and combined production guarantee less than 20 percent of fuels needed for domestic consumption. This is more disturbing given the fact that Nigeria, which is the world’s 6th largest exporter of crude oil, produces the best brand of crude that is the easiest to refine. With adequate and functional refineries, there would not have been the floated gimmick of so-called huge oil subsidy, which is fraudulently paid to the importers of fuel.
With functional refineries, Nigeria can provide adequate supply of petrol, diesel, kerosene, gas, aviation fuel, low pour fuel oil (LPFO used in Manufacturing industries), etc, at cheap prices. We will also be able to generate additional revenue through export of refined fuel products and petrochemical derivates. But we pay more for fuel because the system of neo-liberal capitalism adopted by successive regimes encourages the ruling cabals to make the Country import-dependent on fuel and thereby cause the country huge losses of revenue.
CAN PRIVATE INVESTORS MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Government has said the private investors are the solution to the crisis in the oil sector, and that if the so-called oil subsidy is removed, (in other words, if oil industry is deregulated), private investors will build new refineries and with competition, fuel prices, even if goes up initially, will soon come down. This is a blatant lie.
JAF wishes to inform Nigerians that since 2002, more than 20 licenses were issued to private investors to build refineries. None till date has laid even the foundation, let alone build the facilities. Why? The fact is that the the so-called private investors do not have the capacity to invest in long-term, capital intensive projects like refineries, but rather prefer quick and speculative businesses with super profit like importation of oil. They are the same ruling cabals and cronies that got licenses to build refineries and at the same time, the profiteers who import refined fuel products and loot the so-called fuel subsidy.
Nigerians must ask: why did a group of private profiteers including Obasanjo’s Transcorps, Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola under the auspices of Bluestars buy the Kaduna Refinery a few days to the end of Obasanjo regime in 2007 even when the oil industry was not deregulated? The reason was that the refinery was sold to Bluestars at a give-away price so that with little capital they would have made quick and super profit. But for the STRIKE/MASS PROTEST organised by JAF and its labour partners (NLC & TUC) under the banner of Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) from June 20 – 24, 2007, which Nigerians actively supported, and which compelled the Yar’Adua government to reverse the rotten sale of the Kaduna Refinery and other public assets; this band of looters would have taken over the ownership of the 4 refineries with the singular intention to make super profit without producing a litre of fuel.
NIGERIANS SHOULD FIGHT THIS ANTI-POOR AGENDA
We must organize in communities, workplaces and campuses to build mass resistance against the proposed increases in prices of kerosene, petrol, diesel, LPFO, aviation fuel, and other petroleum products. The proposed outrageous increases in fuel prices will compound the already high cost of living, and make life much more unbearable for most people.
We must never allow Government to have its way with the wicked plan. The working people and oppressed Nigerians must have their way because fuel is so central and essential to our daily life and every Nigerian - hairdressers, welders, tailors, women, mechanics, students, professionals, traders, etc, will be affected by the high prices. High fuel prices mean high cost of transport, high cost of goods and services especially food items, medicine, clothes, schooling, poor purchasing power of the Naira, and more suffering. The only set of people that will not be adversely affected are the cabals in Governments (at the local, states & federal) and their hangers-on.
Nigerians must begin preparation for protracted mass actions as the government is hell-bent to go ahead with the proposed increases. We should form Action Committees against fuel price increases in our communities, workplaces, schools, town unions, religious places and other constituencies to join forces with JAF and its labour partners to RESIST and DEFEAT this anti-poor policy. Activists and class-conscious workers in the workplaces must begin to raise debate in the trade unions for a General Strike and Mass protests as the next line of action.
Also, Nigerians should prepare for a protracted struggle to end these regimes of corrupt politicians and looters and replace them with a Government of the working people and the poor who MUST use the oil wealth and the resource endowment of the country to benefit and better the lives of ALL.
JOIN FORCES WITH JAF TODAY TO:
1. Reject Deregulation and Hike in Prices of Fuel
2. Demand Public Trial of all public and private profiteers and dealers involved in the looting of oil subsidy, repair of refineries as well as other corrupt atrocities in the privatisation of public enterprises.
3. Demand that the books of the oil industry be made OPEN to the Trade Unions and Working people organizations for Public Inquisition.
4. Insist on Public Massive investment in the building of refineries and overhauling of the facilities and infrastructures for haulage of fuel
5. Struggle to End the Privatization and Deregulation policies.
6. Call on NLC and TUC to disown their membership of the National Council of Privatization (NCP) and Stay out of it Now!
7. Demand that the oil sector and the NNPC should be placed under public ownership and management and democratic control of the working people, consumers and local experts.
8. Organise and Mobilise for a Working People political party that must put in political power a Government that will end the era of looting and exploitation by the corrupt capitalist ruling cabals and ensure that wealth of the country is judiciously applied to benefit the majority working population (formal and informal sectors) and the poor.
DR. DIPO FASHINA Comrade ABIODUN AREMU
JAF Chairperson JAF Secretary
Issued on 23rd November 2011 by the Joint Action Front (JAF), 10 Afolabi Lesi Street, Ilupeju-Anthony, Lagos-Nigeria. 08035068524, 08033347962. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org