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Reduce petroleum prices now

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It is rather standing economic logic on its head when the federal government claimed that it is not going to reduce petroleum prices despite the collapse of crude oil price vis-a-vis petroleum products because according to its argument, petroleum prices are regulated and not deregulated. It is only Nigeria’s ruling elite that can present this kind of lopsided argument.

To start with, the prices have come down internationally and it is supposed to reflect in the prices at home. Countries have reduced prices of petroleum products in line with the fall in crude oil prices. Most significant is the fact that countries that do not export crude oil have brought the prices downward including our next door neighbour, Ghana.

Today, as at the time of writing, a barrel of crude oil sells for $43 per barrel, which has equally forced down the price of petroleum products. Nigeria is a major oil producing country without a functional refining ability thereby leaving room for a few privileged individuals to rake so much at the expense of the public. Obasanjo, between 2003 and 2007 sunk $1.1billion for turn-around maintenance of the four refineries located at Warri, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, and yet the refineries are as still as epileptic as ever, hereby importing 70 per cent of local consumable petroleum products. Yet, the EFCC with all its pretensions is yet to arrest anybody, let alone prosecute.

For obvious reasons the refineries would never get to work optimally because we have a lazy bourgeoisie whose preoccupation is just to buy and sell and not to provide industries. Are we not supposed to be making more money selling finished petroleum products to other countries having satisfied the needs of all Nigerians? Are we equally not supposed to be investing massively in Agriculture, construction, education, health etc., such that whenever we have collapse in crude oil price, it will just be a scratch on the surface?

Nigerians are the most unlucky and exploited. When the prices of crude oil skyrocketed to $140 per barrel, schools, hospitals and other basic infrastructure were not built and now that the price has collapsed, the burden will be transferred to the people through increment in taxation and other forms of attacks. For us in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), there is no opposition right now considering the fact that all the ruling parties (AC, PDP, ANPP etc.,) are self-serving and have the same agenda in terms of policy and programmes. The labour movement is weak, leaving the people vulnerable to attacks and massive exploitation. How would one explain that NLC and TUC which were opposed to increment in prices of petroleum and were ready to protest but when the prices collapsed internationally and other nationals are now buying the same product at reduced price, Nigerians are still forced to pay the old price and the NLC and labour leaders are silent?

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) is hereby calling on the Nigerian Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and other pro-people organisations to convoke a meeting under the platform of LASCO with the aim to demand reduction in petroleum prices. From all available statistics, Nigerians are not supposed to be paying more than N35 per litre. Such meeting should also demand increment in wages for workers since political office holders had overwhelmingly increased theirs. But more importantly, LASCO should begin the process of forming a mass-based political organisation that will defend the socio-political and economic interest of poor Nigerians.

Credit: Bosah Chinedu

Source: The Guardian

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