Nigeria: No to fuel price increase

Nigerian Labour Congress’ planned protest against fuel increment should be followed by a two-day general strike  

Press statement by Revolutionary Socialist Movement 
Salako Kayode, 
RSM Publicity Secretary 

The Revolutionary Socialist Movement (RSM) welcomes Nigerian working people and the youth to 2022 and salutes the Nigerian people for their relentless struggles against the neoliberal policies of the Buhari administration.  

We call on the Nigerian people to rise up, once again, against the anti-poor, pro-rich policies of the Buhari administration.  

The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), at its meeting of Friday 17th December 2021, decided to reject and resist the planned increase in the price of fuel by the Federal Government. In a communiqué issued by the labour centre and made available after the NEC, it states that the NLC NEC has resolved  

“…to organize protest rallies in all the 36 states of the federation on 27th January 2022 which would culminate in the submission of protest letters to all the 36 State Governors and another national protest will take place on 1st February 2022 in Abuja; and (d) In case government decides to announce new petrol prices before the proposed protests, the protest will kick off instantly and without any further notice in every state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory”.  

The NLC has also used the new year message to send a warning signal to the federal government, that it will face mass action if it continues to implement anti poor policies such as the increase in fuel price.  

RSM will actively support and take part in these protests, aiming at building a mass movement to reject this new attack. 

RSM also calls upon the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to come out with a plan of actions to fight back against the anti-poor, neoliberal policies of the government.  

This plan of action has to include a 48-hour general strike by the entire workforce. No other means of struggle but strike action will be taken seriously by the establishment, no other kind of struggle can force them to retreat and abandon their policies that attack the working class, the poor and the youth. Strike activity paralyses the economy and attacks the capitalist class where it hurts them most: their profits.  

The Federal Government has always deceived the masses by saying it is necessary to remove the fuel subsidy. At the beginning of the present administration’s term the fuel price was at 95 Naira (the present exchange rate between the euro and the Niara is about 1E:465N) and today the Nigerian people are paying N165. This government has increased fuel prices twice in the course of its term.  

Despite the protests of the NLC against the removal of the fuel subsidy, the ruling capitalist class in Nigeria is determined to do what is in the interests of their profits and of their imperialist supporters and allies. Just to site one example, recently the World Bank stated that “It is high time the Nigerian Government removed the subsidy on fuel”.  

The recent statement of the NLC should represent the beginning of the mobilization of its rank and file to prepare for a protracted struggle to stop this capitalist/imperialist agenda in Nigeria. Only through mass action can this new attack be blocked.  

The Trade Union movement in Nigeria ought to be at the forefront of this struggle. The leadership of the Trade Unions however has lost the confidence of big sections of the activists and of the working class, because of its past betrayals, like the suspension of the General Strike on September 28, 2020. Initiatives from below, form rank and file activists and trade union centers are particularly important in this conjuncture.  

RSM welcomes all actions to resist this attack on the masses. We particularly stress the need for a united struggle of all Trade Union Centers to make sure our movement is not divided or split. Both the NLC and the TUC must reject deregulation as well as the arguments about the lack of finances that the Federal Government uses. They must expose and severely criticise the political elite – the Nigerian political office holders are among the highest paid in the world at the same time as applying austerity policies against working people and the poor.  

RSM will also actively support the initiative of the peoples’ alternative political movement, TPAP-M, that plans protests, in order to commemorate “Occupy Nigeria” of the January 2012 removal of fuel subsidy struggle. We call upon TPAP-M to link the struggle to put an end to the high salaries and privileges of the political office holders.

We call on NLC and TUC to link these struggles with the struggle against deregulation, for the immediate reduction of cooking gas and electricity tariffs as well as against insecurity, repression and mass killings across Nigeria.  

We demand that key sectors of the economy should be nationalised and democratically controlled by elected representatives of workers and the masses. 

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