By Victor AHIUMA-YOUNG
JOINT Action Front, JAF; the pro-labour civil society partner in the Labour and Civil Society Coalition, LASCO, have begun mobilisation and sensitisation of Nigerians to resist government planned removal of subsidy on fuel and privatisation of the power sector, saying it would destroy Nigeria if allowed to sail through.
At a briefing in Lagos, JAF said the planned policies were anti-Nigeria and Nigerians and must be rejected by all right thinking Nigerians to save Nigeria from the path of destruction, saying Nigerians must rise up to reject the desperation by the Federal Government to impose another round of wicked punitive increases in the prices of petroleum products (petrol, kerosene, diesel, aviation fuel, low pour fuel oil, LPFO, etc.
Speaking on behalf of the group, its Secretary, Comrade Abiodun Aremu, warned that the forceful take-over of Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN facilities nationwide and its implication for constitutional rule in Nigeria.
According to him, “As far as we in JAF are concerned, there is nothing like fuel subsidy. The recycled argument being canvassed by Government and its rented spoke-persons that only a cabal of profiteers benefit from the subsidy clearly exposed it as irresponsible and anti-poor if, with all the security apparatus at its disposal, the government cannot deal with the profiteers and private sharks that are looting funds in the name of subsidy, then we must protect ourselves.
Another reason the government has given is that the removal of ‘fuel subsidy’ is to block wastage of resources. If we may ask; why has Government never prosecuted anybody involved in the mismanagement of the turn-around-maintenance of the refineries?
At least over $231.6 million was wasted by the Obasanjo government on this. The answer is simple. Those in government and the so-called cabals are the same looters; so they cannot prosecute themselves for bleeding the country dry through naked looting. Instead, they want to impose price increases to make life unbearable to the working people and poor
The group argued that if government was sincere about saving leakages in public funds, then it should institute pro-people pgrogrammes and not prescriptions from the Brettonwood institutions like IMF and the World Bank, the European Union, and a host of others.
On the forceful take-over of PHCN facilities, Aremu insisted it was a ploy to allow the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE to take prospective investors “to undertake the inventory of the facilities, in view of its plot to illegally transfer these undervalued public assets to their cronies of profiteers, so-called private investors.
JAF deplores this unwarranted military occupation, which has been characterized by the maltreatment of workers and security harassment of its leadership across the country, instead of Government implementing the payment of the 50 per cent salary increment due to the PHCN workers since June.
The JAF therefore, demanded the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of the soldiers, saying, “We totally reject the planned privatisation of PHCN. Our position on the Power Sector is that the PHCN can be efficient if it is democratically run with the involvement of elected representatives of workers and consumers in the management of electricity. This is the only way that the public resources invested in the sector can translate into qualitative improvement in power generation, adequate supply and affordability.”
JAF calls for total action
The JAF scribe urged Nigerians to prepare for protracted mass actions if government went ahead with the planned subsidy removal and privatisation of the electricity sector. “Join forces with JAF today to “reject deregulation and hike in prices of fuel. Reject and resist the privatisation of the electricity sector. Demand public trial of all public and private profiteers and dealers involved in the looting of oil subsidy, repairs of refineries as well as other corrupt atrocities in the privatisation of public enterprises.
“Demand that the books of the oil industry be made open to the Trade unions and working people organisations for Public Inquisition. Insist on Public Massive investment in the building of refineries and overhauling of the facilities and infrastructures for haulage of fuel. Struggle to end the privatization and deregulation policies.”
The group equally called on the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, “to disown their membership of the National Council of Privatization (NCP) and Stay out of it now. We 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.
“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 the wealth of the country is judiciously applied to benefit the majority working population (formal and informal sectors) and the poor.”