‘A TOTAL DECLARATION OF WAR’ – Nigerian unions slam doubling of fuel price


THE Nigerian trade unions have called for a mass mobilisation of ‘strikes, street demonstrations and mass protests across the country’ in response to the Nigerian government’s withdrawal of a fuel price subsidy.

The president of the union has said that the removal of the subsidy amounts to a ‘total declaration of war’ against the Nigerian working class and poor masses, because petrol prices have more than doubled.

Nigerian workers are even more angry because petrol price hikes will in turn force up the cost of all basic essential goods.

Nigeria’s two main labour organisations, the Trades Union Congress and the Nigerian Labour Congress, issued a joint statement which said: ‘We alert the populace to begin immediate mobilisation towards the D-Day for the commencement of strikes, street demonstrations and mass protests across the country.

‘This promises to be a long-drawn battle; we know it is beginning, but we do not know its end or when it will end.

‘We are confident the Nigerian people will triumph.’

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency on Saturday in areas that were hit by bomb blasts, allegedly carried out by Islamists.

The unions, in their statement, issued a warning to the Nigerian president: ‘We also put the Jonathan Presidency and its surrogates on notice that we shall ensure that they are prosecuted up to the International Criminal Court if they, by acts of commission or omission, spill the blood of any Nigerian over the protests that follow their inhuman acts against the people.’

The President General of TUC, Peter Esele, said that the latest development was ‘a stab in the back’ by the Federal Government.

He explained that the action of government was a ‘total declaration of war’ on the ‘poor masses who are being punished by an inefficient system that is anchored on a few corrupt oil thieves who are major sponsors and backers of government.

‘The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) rejects without reservation the reported removal of petroleum subsidy by the Federal Government as announced by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) executive secretary Reginald Stanley, which ushered in an anti-people-based price of N141 per litre.

‘This is unacceptable to us and to the Nigerian masses who have been ambushed by a government they expressly gave a popular mandate to represent them some few months back.’

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and Nigerians regard cheap fuel as the only benefit they get from the nation’s oil wealth.

Prices have increased from 65 naira ($0.40; £0.26) per litre to at least 140 naira in filling stations and from 100 naira to at least 200 on the black market.

Nigerian workers are heavy users of fuel, not just for cars but to power generators that many households and businesses must have.