By Victor Ahiuma-Young
ORGANISED Labour, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, and rights activists have asked Nigerians to revolt against the government’s planned fuel price hike in the New Year, as it would worsen the poverty level in the country.
The group, operating under the aegis of The People’s Alternative Political Movement, TPAP-M, made up of the Coalition on NGO Networks in Northern Nigeria, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees, Campaign for Transformative Governance, CFTG, representatives of Informal Sector Workers, Women formations, and youth and young persons, including those who continue to play front line roles in the #EndSARS movement, urged Nigerians to brace up for the battle ahead.
At a meeting on the “deteriorating state of the nation in general, the unacceptable evolving developments with regards to rising energy costs, and the impending unconscionable hikes in fuel price and electricity tariff being proposed by the anti-people regime currently superintending over the Nigerian state on behalf of the failed and ruining Ruling Class,” they warned that the triple energy crisis, characterised by rising gas prices, had made gas unaffordable to the poor and even the middle classes, as well as the threatened hikes in fuel price and electricity tariff, which would price these essential products and services out of the reach of the impoverished masses and make energy completely unaffordable to the working people and the toiling masses.
According to them, the combined implication of all of these is that Nigerians would be further impoverished. Businesses – in particular small and medium scale businesses – will struggle to survive; will lay off staff and even close up. Big businesses will also struggle with rising production costs, and those who can manage to stay afloat will do so at the expense of their workforce (many of whom will be laid off) and of ordinary citizens (to whom they will shift the cost).
While dismissing the so-called subsidy and its planned removal in the New Year, the group in a communique by Omotoye Olorode and Jaye Gaskia (TPAP-M Secretariat), among others, said: “We reject in its totality the hike in the price of Gas, and the impending hikes in the price of fuel and electricity tariff. We insist that Nigerians cannot and must not be punished for the failures and incompetence of the ruling class and this regime in ensuring access to affordable energy and adequate security and protection.
“We demand that past and present managements of the NNPC and the four moribund refineries should be indicted, prosecuted and brought to book for their crass incompetence that has resulted into the failure since 2012 to have to turn around the fortunes of the refineries and make them work at optimum capacity, thus contributing significantly to Nigeria’s ability to acquire adequate domestic refining capacity.
“We demand that all political office holders who have had responsibility for oversighting – in executive or legislative capacity, the petroleum sector should be investigated, indicted and prosecuted.
“We demand the complete reversal of the power sector privatisation, and the re-nationalisation of the power sector, bringing it under the control and management of key stakeholders, including workers, and electricity consumers. We demand the recovery of all looted and misappropriated public funds pumped into the petroleum and power sectors (towards improving domestic refining capacity, increasing domestic production of LPG, or towards improving service delivery in the privatised power firms), etc.
“The recovered funds should be utilised to build new public refineries, improve domestic LPG production, and improve service delivery in the renationalised power sector. We insist that any government that is unable to build public refineries and enable adequate domestic refining capacity for refined petroleum products should resign immediately.
“In a similar vein, we call on all Nigerians to ensure that they reject any political party and their candidates who do not have any practical, fundable and believable program to resolve the energy crisis, and ensure adequate domestic refining capacity for refined petroleum products, adequate domestic production capacity for LPG, and improved services and coverage for electricity across the country.”
Towards this end, the Peoples’ Alternative Political Movement (TPAP-M) shall reach out to other like-minded organisations, and link up with similar minded individuals to build a mass base for a massive popular resistance beginning in January 2022.
TPAP-M and her allies will organise a week of mobilisations and awareness raising at the beginning of January 2022 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Occupy Nigeria – the January Uprising of 2012; and as well to build up momentum towards generalised mass protests across the country to resist the impending hikes in fuel price and electricity tariff, and the unfolding hike in the price of Gas. We demand a plan and a timeline to meet our demands. In view of the above, an expanded Coordinating Committee to wage the struggle against Hikes in Energy Prices would be established immediately.”