Rufus Olusesan (Chairman CDWRN)
29 January 2009
The Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR) considers the removal of N5 from the pump price of petrol, which hitherto was N70, as insulting tokenism. The poor working masses of Nigeria, whose appalling living conditions, caused by anti-poor neo-liberal programmes, have been worsened by the global economic meltdown, deserve much more than this marginal reduction.
Besides petrol, the government must also significantly reduce the prices of other petroleum products like diesel, kerosene, aviation fuel and black oil.
With the global economic meltdown, the landing costs of the refined products have significantly come down. By our estimate the price of petrol for instance should not be more than N50 per litre.
However, besides the need for reduction on the basis of market dictate, fuels are essential to the social welfare of Nigerians and industrial use. Therefore fuel must be made affordable as both stimulus for economic activities and cushion in the face of rampaging economic crisis.
Anyway, it is rather unfortunate that Nigeria, a major oil producing country, has to rely on importation of fuel for its domestic use. This is as a result of the successive irresponsible governments which have refused to build adequate refineries despite the huge revenue at their disposal particularly in the last 9 years.
The crude oil price had skyrocketed from less than $20 in 1999 to the all-time high of $147 in July 2008. While this oil windfall lasted its fruits were not enjoyed by the poor masses in term of improved standard of living and social services like education, health care, etc. What’s more, the state of infrastructure got worse in the same period. Rather sadly Nigerians were made to pay more for fuel at home while the politicians and business associates smiled as they filled their bank accounts with nation’s oil revenue.
In the face of pervasive inefficiency and inadequacy of public power supply, the shameless governments at all levels have budgeted huge amount of public funds on fuel to run their generators both at home and offices in addition to the jumbo pay package they have awarded to themselves . The vast majority of Nigerians who do not have access to public funds, either allocated or stolen, must not be singled out to suffer for the irresponsibility of the governments.
We therefore demand significant reduction in the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene, aviation fuel, black oil and other petroleum products essential for domestic and industrial use. We also call on government to meet the demand of Labour for a new minimum wage of N52, 200. The labour and pro-masses’ organizations should however prepare to struggle to achieve these demands.