In a gross show of insensitivity, the Pipeline and Petroleum Marketers Company (PPMC) announced another hike in Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) price on Thursday 12 November. The current increment brings fuel price to N170 per litre. That is coming barely 10 weeks after the last increment which was introduced in September. Basically, in the last 5 months the price of fuel has been changed 5 times.
The incessant hikes in fuel price further inflicts and unnecessary hardships on working-class people. Meanwhile, in the last 10 months alone the Maj. Gen. (Rted) Buhari-led governmental has launched a series of political and economic attacks on the masses. The Value Added Tax (VAT) was increased just some weeks into the year which spiked the inflation rate. Meanwhile purchasing power of the working-class people has dropped. Workers are still not paid the legislated N30,000 minimum wage in not less than 11 States.
And all of these are coming in the period COVID-19 crisis has aggravated the socioeconomic hardships working people are confronted with. A lot of workers both in the informal and formal sectors are being faced with serious hunger crisis, that some literally died of hunger. Yet the bosses in government hid COVID-19 relief materials away from the masses.
The incessant fuel hike has ripple effects on the economy particularly as it concerns the poor and working-class people. We have seen how the increment in the last 4 months has resulted in hikes in food prices and unstable transportation cost.
Obviously, the idea that market forces control the price under neoliberal capitalism is a total gimmick. Apparently, a few bosses control the prices and distribution. In the context of the fuel economy in Nigeria the few bosses are big businesspeople in Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and their allies in government.
We must recall that the hike done in September which brought the fuel price to N151.6 per litre came about a day after the chair of IPMAN, Adetunji Oyebanji mentioned that fuel price should be at N155 per litre. Similarly, immediately the PPMC announced the increase of ex-depot price from N147.67 to N155.17 per litre on Thursday, IPMAN equally declared a new fuel price between N168 to N170 per litre. Evidently the market forces in this context are the bosses.
Clearly the elites in government and in business in Nigeria are resolved on making living unbearable for the workers, youth, artisans and unemployed. They are ready to put their profits over us and our basic needs.
But if there is just one thing the #EndSARS revolt demonstrated to us, it is that the power to change the status quo is in our hands. Also, that we must fight to win our total liberation and break from the grip of these oppressors and the system of capitalism.
That place both historical and moral responsibility before the leadership of the labour centers and the various labour unions to provide leadership to the yearning of the working-class people. After all current realities have shown the social dialogue approach to have huge limitations and not enough.
It is against that backdrop that we urge the NLC, TUC and all trade unions to work with other radical groups within the labour movement to embark on national strike to resist the fuel price hike and other socioeconomic attacks on the people. And to that end we call on the workers, students, unemployed youth artisans and traders to unite and fight alongside each other to get rid of the oppressive regime and change the exploitative system for one that put the working-class people first.
Frances Akinjole Lai Brown
National Chair National Secretary