Petrol Price Increase An Extortion of Downtrodden Masses By Ruling Class – NASU

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Comrade Adeyemi

THE Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) has stated that the recent price increase in the price of petrol or premium motor spirit (PMS) is simply “an extortion of the downtrodden masses of this country in favour of market forces.”

NASU, in a statement by Prince Peters A. Adeyemi (JP), its General Secretary, and made available to National Record on Wednesday, said the price increment is not only unjust but insensitive in the face of the ongoing covid-19 pandemic which ought to naturally command the empathy of government towards the poor and vulnerable.

Two-fold effects

“Most workers are months back in the payment of their rents and other loans. We will not fail to state our conviction that all these “abracadabra” going on with the price of petroleum products, have to do with World Bank conditionality for granting loans to the Federal Government. The Bank has never been quiet about its desire to see that the Federal Government stops the so-called subsidy on petroleum products.”

“The effect of the increase on workers is in two folds. One, workers pay directly, through direct purchase of the product for their vehicles and generators and the other indirectly, due to the rise it is already causing in the prices of transportation on the very poor roads, consumer goods and essential services. This increase cannot be justified especially at this time. We in NASU see it as an extortion of the downtrodden masses of this country in favour of market forces. It is not only unjust but insensitive. The action has added to the hardship of workers and ordinary Nigerians. We therefore call for an immediate reversal by Government,” Comrade Adeyemi said.

He said the increase, which took the pump price of petrol from N123 per litre to N143.80 per litre with effect from 1st July, 2020, came to members of NASU and all workers in the country as a shock, “especially coming at a time when most workers are still struggling and have not yet found their feet financially after most of them have lost incomes and continue to lose incomes and jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Most workers are months back in the payment of their rents and other loans. We will not fail to state our conviction that all these “abracadabra” going on with the price of petroleum products, have to do with World Bank conditionality for granting loans to the Federal Government. The Bank has never been quiet about its desire to see that the Federal Government stops the so-called subsidy on petroleum products.

“NASU will not allow itself to be carried into, or get involved in the stale discussions about how market prices of petroleum products, especially petrol are arrived at, because we regard Government agencies’ figures on this matter as dubious and the positions of bureaucrats in the petroleum industry on them as very insincere,” Comrade Adeyemi said.

Greatest Challenge in the Oil Industry

He added that the greatest challenge in the oil industry is the stranglehold of bureaucrats and their collaborators in the private sector of the oil industry who will not allow the refineries to work due to their selfish interests.

He said: “The bureaucrats heading these agencies and their collaborators in the private sector of the petroleum industry will never allow our refineries to work. In the whole politics of the import price of petroleum products, be it under subsidy regime or removal of subsidy in favour of market forces to determine retail prices in the country, it is this same bureaucrats in the petroleum industry and their private sector collaborators who will always be the winners while the masses and the nation are the losers.  They prefer importation of refined petroleum products against refining the products locally for the simple reason that it gives them the opportunity to continue to build up their foreign currency accounts offshore, which they hold and operate through proxies.

“The political ruling class, be they in the ruling party or opposition parties and their class collaborators in public bureaucracy as well as  their cronies in the private sector, do not care about the price of petroleum products because like taxes, they do not buy these products with their hard earned money. They are driven in vehicles bought and fuelled for them by Governments and companies.”

“Successive Governments in the country have always been held hostage by these corrupt bureaucrats and their collaborators in the private sector of the oil industry. They have deprived the country of getting the much needed foreign exchange, through the sale of refined petroleum products to our neighbouring countries. Rather, the country is losing foreign exchange through the importation of the products.

“We do not see this wickedness of the ruling class over workers and the masses of this country coming to an end soon. Political change of batons from one political party to the other has never and will never bring about a change in the character of the ruling class.

“All the political parties are opposite sides of the same coin. Therefore, no one should be surprised to find politicians who are members of a political party in the morning, becoming members of the opposition party in the evening. They announce with fanfare, their membership of the opposing political party, which they were calling names in the morning of the same day. The reason is that our political space is devoid of ideology. Their common denominator is that they are all predators of our commonwealth, corrupt and dubious exploiters of the masses.

“The political ruling class, be they in the ruling party or opposition parties and their class collaborators in public bureaucracy as well as  their cronies in the private sector, do not care about the price of petroleum products because like taxes, they do not buy these products with their hard earned money. They are driven in vehicles bought and fuelled for them by Governments and companies.

“They live in Government and companies’ accommodations having installed generators that provide constant electricity for their household use. They would have dubiously and corruptly amassed sufficient resources to meet the needs of their family members to the third generation before they leave office.”

Age-old Subsidy Removal

NASU said the excuse usually advanced by government is the removal of subsidy in order to free resources to fund development has become not only stale and dubious. “We are always told that the whole issue surrounding the removal of subsidy, if actually any exists, is to free resources for Government to do other things that will lead to the economic growth of the country.

“We in NASU see any talk about economic growth without accompanying economic development as dubious. Economic development has to do with citizens’ quality of life and living standards often measured using human development index, which considers literacy rates, life expectancy and poverty rates.

“All we hear daily from Government economists is Gross Domestic Products (GDP). Unfortunately, GDP does not include intrinsic development factors such as leisure time, environmental quality or freedom from oppression. It is high time the quality of lives of citizens was taken seriously by Government,” Comrade Adeyemi stated.

Worst Victims of Covid-19

“At a time when other countries of the world are making cash transfers and taking other palliative measures to reduce the effect of the pandemic on their citizens, bureaucrats in the oil industry and their collaborators in the private sector of the industry have succeeded in pitching the Government against the people through this ill-advised decision, that is going to exacerbate the already precarious economic situation of workers and the downtrodden in the society.”

Comrade Adeyemi said while government has failed to live by and practice the international standards which its officials often point to as reference points, it demands of the same government officials to tell Nigerians which oil producing nation has increased the price of petroleum products in this period of the coronavirus pandemic.

“In view of the fact that we are always reminded by Government officials about ongoing practices in the international arena, we call on Government and its officials to tell us which oil producing country has increased the price of petroleum products during this period of COVID-19 pandemic.

“While COVID-19 and economic crisis have hit all Nigerians, both rich and poor, farmers, workers and the downtrodden masses are the worst victims. At a time when other countries of the world are making cash transfers and taking other palliative measures to reduce the effect of the pandemic on their citizens, bureaucrats in the oil industry and their collaborators in the private sector of the industry have succeeded in pitching the Government against the people through this ill-advised decision, that is going to exacerbate the already precarious economic situation of workers and the downtrodden in the society.”

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