Nationwide Industrial Strike Looms – Civil Societies Warn President Tinubu, Reject Planned Fuel Subsidy Removal

ome civil society organisations have called on Nigerians to reject the fuel subsidy removal by the new administration of President Bola Tinubu, as angry reactions continued to trail his declaration on Monday.

Describing such pronouncement as an anti-poor and neo-liberal policy, they regretted that President Tinubu was not as vehement and declarative with plans to curb corruption and reduce waste associated with flamboyant cost on governance.

SaharaReporters reported on Monday that shortly after President Tinubu announced the total removal of subsidy on petrol otherwise known as fuel, queues returned in major petrol stations across the country especially in Lagos and Abuja.

Tinubu had in his inaugural speech, stated that “petroleum subsidy is gone”.

Following the pronouncement there was a sharp hike in pump price, triggering commercial transporters to equally hike their trip fares across the country in response to the development.

It had been reported that in Enugu, Lagos, Abuja and many other cities, many filing stations have closed down while few dispensing the product have adjusted their meters from previous N220 to N300 and above per litre. In some hinterlands, pump prices were also adjusted from N280 previously sold to now N360 and above per litre.

Reacting in separate statements to the uncertainties the announcement has brought into the economy in less than 24 hours and its attendant consequences, the civil society organisations berated the new president, advising President Tinubu to rescind the decision.   

The CSOs are the Centre for Human and Socio-economic Rights (CHSR), the Socialist Equality Movement and the International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative.

The groups in their statements condemned the decision of the new government to withdraw subsidies on fuel without providing alternatives.

Socialist Equality Movement in its statement titled “Fuel Subsidy Removal and Return of Fuel Queues: Tinubu’s First Anti-Poor and Neo-liberal attack should not be taken lying low,” which was signed by Acting Chairperson, Ayo Ademiluyi, said that inaugural speech of Tinubu-led regime has shown clearly that the regime is a pro-imperialist and outrightly anti-poor regime, adding that “no iotum of illusion should be held in it by layers of working people and change-seeking youth.”

“We hold that the “fuel subsidy removal” is purported because it is a veiled cover to hike fuel prices and satisfy the greed of the private oil marketers. This has been used from one anti-poor regime to the other .In fact, the Buhari-led regime claimed it had “removed subsidy” before it left. Why then is the Tinubu-led regime removing it?

“We are of the view that this attack should not be taken lying low. While we have seen resurgence of fuel queues at filling stations, astronomical increases are looming on food and other staple items.

“We are of the view that the central bureaucracy of the labour movement cannot just whistle an empty opposition to the fuel subsidy removal, it must pose a clear alternative of nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy.”

The group however, called for formation of rank and file workers’ committees in the trade unions linking up with the Rank and File Workers’ Network of the Socialist Equality Movement in building a true working class struggle for socialism in the labour movement.

“We call for sustained pressure to be mounted by these rank and file workers’ committees and committees of action in the streets and neighbourhoods for the central labour bureaucracy to serve the new regime a 7 days’ notice of a 48 hours’ general strike. The 7 days period should be utilised for all -encompassing mass mobilisation.”

On its part, Centre for Human and Socio-economic Rights in statement titled: “Tinubu’s inauguration message of despairs; Nigerians reject renewed hardship under the guise of subsidy removal,” which was signed by President, Comrade Alex Omotehinse, described the declaration of subsidy removal as insensitive and rather disappointing.

“CHSR unequivocally condemns the arrogant manner in which the newly inaugurated president conveyed the plan of his administration to remove subsidy, to Nigerians who are already traumatized and dehumanized with the implementation of bad policies by the government of All Progressive Congress (APC).”

The group said it considers the way and manner subsidy removal was announced on the first day the new government took over as outrageous, uncaring and disappointing. “Such demonstration of insensitivity by a new administration speaks of utter disregard for the citizens whose collective mandate the new President and his political party are laying claim to for legitimacy.   

“CHSR is worried that the new administration appears to have displayed its contempt for the collective feelings of Nigerians so soon considering that both the labour movement and cross section of Nigerians have clamoured for people-friendly implementation of the policy so as to avoid unmitigated inflation.”

It warned that subsidy removal was bound to compound the harrowing hardship citizens are already subjected to by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari. “It thus evident from the pains and anguish Nigerians have been subjected with renewed scarcity and excessive hike in cost of fuel following the reckless declaration of subsidy removal in the inaugural address that new government may end chasing shadow rather than address the immediate challenge of bad governance around corruption, nepotism, insecurity and poverty alleviation.”

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 Also the International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative in a statement signed by the President and Secretary, Comrade Osmond Ugwu and Dr Jerry Chukwuokolo respectively, said that the removal of subsidy by President Tinubu at this time of harsh economy is a clear indication that he “comes for destruction and not to rebuild the country and her people,” warning that such insensitive policies and decision at start of the new administration “portends danger for ordinary Nigeria people, especially the working class people.”

 The group described as very regrettable that while the people are trying to get up from the deep economic pit where Buhari and his team have pushed them to; Tinubu who was a Chieftain of National Democratic Coalition that fought against tyranny is coming up at this point when Nigeria people are gasping and struggling to breath a fresh air to push the people into a deeper pit where there is no air at all.

It however, called on organised labour, Nigerian students, Market associations, the faith-based and all CSOs in Nigeria to rise up and rescue Nigeria by embarking on the street and picketing of government agencies until the decision was reversed. They insisted that if the subsidy must be removed the government should fix the four refineries to work at its optimal level.   

“We are calling on the oppressed people and classes of this country to RISE UP and resist this attempt by Tinubu to implement the harsh policies of the capitalist countries via the World Bank and allied multilateral lateral organisations to subjugate the poor nations of the world, nay Africa.”

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