The announcement by the junior minister of Petroleum – IbeKachikwuyesterday evening increasing the price of petrol by about 67.63% to N145/litre came to many Nigerians as a rude shock and can only be described as unfeeling and callous. This is coming at the heels of the recent assurances by the Minister that the Government is not in any way planning to increase the price of petroleum products through the convoluted subsidy regime.
It will be recalled that the present Government led by PresidentBuhari since coming into office has hiked electricity tariff by about 45% and went ahead to implement it despite court ruling to the contrary; it has allowed the exchange rate to deteriorate to N325 to the US Dollar; has introduced stamp duty on deposit in Banks and has pronounced a 100% increase in VAT, has banned the importation of “I better pass my neighbour” generators which serves mainly the poor. We are truly witnessing a government that is totally wired against the poor whether they are workers or not.
We do not understand why a Government will chose to deceive her citizens. We do not understand why a Government will chose not to consult deeply with all stakeholders in the country before embarking on such a far reaching decision that has deep and serious consequences on the lives and living of the people of this nation especially when there is already a stakeholder understanding on the pathway for the Government to exit whatever subsidy still remains in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
We have set the conditions for full deregulation of the sector which will allow the price of products to be determined freely by market imperatives. We all agreed with the Government that the pathway to this is for the refineries to come on stream so that domestic consumption will be satisfied internally and importation of products stopped completely. This we believe will allow Nigerians pay a more realistic and reasonable price for the product and assist the nation maintain most of its macro-economic variables in a positive way.
Nigerian workers therefore believe that it is irresponsible for this Government to unilaterally hike the price of Petrol without considering the existing understanding of industry stakeholders. We believe that it is disdainful and totally contemptuous on the part of the Government against Nigerian workers and peoples.
The falsehood innate in this action can be seen in the mindless subterfuge this Government employed in pushing Nigerians into this ignoble cesspit. It is wrong for a Government to intentionally foist suffering on the citizenry so as to create an environment where the citizenry will be compelled Willy-nilly to accept whatsoever hike it intends. This is a complete breach of trust. Nigerians are truly being taken for a ride by those in Government.
This is clearly an attempt to stabilise and sustain the increased poverty which this Government has foisted on the masses and workers of this nation. How can the Government be talking about deregulation and at the same time fixing petroleum prices? HasIbeKachikwu become Market force?
It is becoming clear whose interest Nigerian Government is serving with this perfidy. It is now very clear on whose side this Government stands. Every remaining doubts as to the direction this Government is taking this nation has been erased from the minds of Nigerian workers and masses. We have come to the conclusion that this Government if allowed the opportunity may allow itself to be misled by greedy and unconscionable individuals who have set up toll booths in front of our petrol depots and receiving points to extract rent from Nigerians.
Nigerians should ask this simple question; why has the Government found it very difficult to refurbish the existing refineries and bring them to full capacity or build new refineries to make us self-sufficient in petroleum products? Simple! It creates opportunities for the ruling elite to continue extorting money from hapless citizens.
The NLC has therefore decided that we shall not only resist this unholy hike in the price of petrol but shall take active steps to ensure that whatsoever philosophy or idea that must have propelled it is erased in the process. We shall ensure that the official price remains not a kobo above N86.50/litre. We shall also ensure that this Government removes all supply bottle-necks that makes product availability to the citizenry difficult.
We call on all our affiliates and state Councils to commence immediate mobilisation for the purposes of assisting this Government correct itself and reverse this unholy hike. We urge all of you to organise and make your platforms available to Civil Society efforts which has already commenced in your respective states and domains to ensure that we extricate Nigerians from the suffering which this Government wants to push Nigerians into.
An emergency CWC and NEC meetings of the Congress have been fixed for this Friday and Saturday to enable us craft the needed strategy and receive all the needed directives to embark on our chosen course of action against this wickedness. We cannot now abandon Nigerian masses who have reposed so much trust and confidence in us to protect and deliver them from the hands of mindless politicians and businessmen.
Comrade Joe Ajaero