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INCREASES IN FUEL PRICE, ELECTRICITY TARIFFS AND VAT: JAF, ALLIES CALL FOR MASS RESISTANCE TOWARDS ENDING THE NEO- LIBERAL ECONOMIC PARADIGMS IN NIGERIA

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The Joint Action Front (JAF) in alliance with scores of pro-people civil society organisations and some trade unions across the country have called for a mass action for a "Regime change" and to reject, resist and  defeat the latest imposition of hardships by the deceptive and anti-poor people policies of the Buhari/APC regime on Nigerians, which if not resisted and defeated, would compound the miserable existence of the vast majority of Nigerians, who are still groaning with the attacks of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a press statement signed by the JAF Chairperson Dr. Dipo Fashina and JAF Secretary Comrade Abiodun Aremu and was made available to the journalists on Thursday, JAF called for a system change, adding that the neoliberal policies of privatisation and deregulation, in essence and always, are economic instruments of hardships to the working people and the poor, whose lives are continuously being made miserable by incessant hikes in prices of goods and services, poor salaries and starvation wages, lack of social security and welfare, commercialisation of education and healthcare, poor living conditions, job losses and unemployment, etc. 

These policies, according to JAF are dictated by greed, profit-seeking and looting of the national resources by the few rich cabals at the expense of increasing the sufferings of the poor masses and working people”.

JAF recalled that fuel price was increased from N86.50 to N145 on May 11, 2016 and the latest wicked increase from N145 to N150 and now N162 and thereby condemn and reject the latest wicked increases in prices of fuel, electricity tariffs and value added tax (VAT), and contended that it is a product of the capitalist neoliberal policies of Privatisation and Deregulation.

The group urged Nigerians across the country to hold MASS MEETINGS and sensitisation rallies to REJECT the latest hikes and to STRUGGLE to DEFEAT it. 

"That Government has a responsibility to make our Refineries to work and build new ones in order to ensure that availability of petroleum products (petrol, diesel, kerosene, aviation fuel, etc) at cheaper and affordable prices to all." JAF said.


FULL STATEMENT READS: 

TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ORGANISED BY THE JOINT ACTION FRONT (JAF) IN

ALLIANCE WITH PRO-LABOUR AND PRO-PEOPLE CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS HELD ON

THURSDAY, September 10, 2020 ON THE THEME: RESISTANCE TOWARDS ENDING THE NEO-LIBERAL ECONOMIC PARADIGMS IN NIGERIA!

● NIGERIANS SHOULD PREPARE FOR MASS ACTIONS TO RESIST AND

DEFEAT THE ANTI-POOR INCREASES IN FUEL PRICE, ELECTRICITY

TARIFFS AND VAT!

● REJECT IMF/WORLD BANK POLICIES OF PRIVATISATION &

DEREGULATION AT ALL TIMES!!

● STRUGGLE FOR SYSTEM CHANGE NOW!

Dear Media compatriots, we welcome you most fraternally to this press conference, which becomes

inevitable given the current state of our country.

INTRODUCTION

1. The Joint Action Front (JAF) in alliance with scores of pro-people civil society organisations and some trade unions across the country welcome our media compatriots to this press conference specifically called to unfold the outcome the MASS CONSULATIVE MEETING held this afternoon.

2. Today’s meeting is the third of such independent activities in the past nine years that JAF would rally nationwide resistance of Labour, CSOs and the suffering majority of Nigerians against hikes in prices of fuel and electricity.

● First, was the declaration of Mass Actions on December 20, 2011, which commenced on January 3, 2012 and culminated into the January Uprising of January 9 – 16, 2012.

● Second was the May 18 – 20, 2016 resistance, which was violently repressed by the Buhari regime and in which a section of the CSOs joined forces with the regime to organise a Conference at the Lagos Airport Hotel Ikeja on May 23, 2016 to sanction the total removal of so-called subsidy, with the increase of petrol prices from N86.50 to N145, thereby undermined the resistance. In this period JAF was the only group with the Nigeria Labour Congress and was the last to leave the barricades.

● Today’s meeting is a further statement of our consistency that Nigerians should heed the clarion to struggle for SYSTEM CHANGE -

3. Equally, we should recall JAF’s affirmations in the recent past:

● In the run down to the 2015 general election, when the Buhari-APC appealed to the Nigerian people, with its alleged change-mantra, we cautioned that: “Irrespective of the party that wins the presidential election, the crisis in the economy is bound to continue because the economic agenda of the two major parties (PDP and APC) remains dependent on oil and capitalist policies of privatisation and deregulation. These policies are operated and championed by servants of the World Bank and the

International Monetary Fund (IMF), whose main business is to steal our national wealth for the use of the exploiters in Europe, United States of America, Japan, Asia, etc. These agents cannot defend the working people, the poor and the oppressed anywhere”.

● “Neoliberal policies of privatisation and deregulation, in essence and always, are economic instruments of hardships to the working people and the poor, whose lives are continuously being made miserable by incessant hikes in prices of goods and services, poor salaries and starvation wages, lack of social security and welfare, commercialisation of education and healthcare, poor living conditions, job losses and unemployment, etc. These policies are dictated by greed, profit-seeking and looting of the national resources by the few rich cabals at the expense of increasing the sufferings of the poor masses and working people”.

● JAF countered the APC change-mantra then in 2015, and which holds truth till today that: “the System Change we want will UNITE the vast majority of our people under a government that will organise the working people and oppressed poor to boost our productive capacities and will use the resources for sustainable economic and social advancement; thereby reversing our economic dependency and restoring our dignity as an independent country. The Government of the working people will take care of all Nigerians no matter where they come from, their religion, where they live, and their sex. It will care for all Nigerians dehumanised by the rule of the oppressors”.

THE OUTCOME OF THE MASS MEETING

4. The meeting recalled that fuel price was increased from N86.50 to N145 on May 11, 2016 and the latest wicked increase from N145 to N150 and now N162 and thereby condemn and reject the latest wicked increases in prices of fuel, electricity tariffs and value added tax (VAT), and contended that it is a product of the capitalist neoliberal policies of Privatisation and Deregulation.

5. The meeting calls on the Nigerian working people, the oppressed poor masses, students, traders, professionals, women, unemployed youth, farmers, artisans, Muslims, Christians and faith based organisations to prepare to use MASS ACTIONS to REJECT, RESIST and DEFEAT the latest imposition of hardships by the deceptive and anti-poor people Buhari regime on Nigerians, which if not resisted and defeated, would compound the miserable existence of the vast majority of Nigerians, who are still groaning with the attacks of the coronavirus pandemic.

6. The meeting urged Nigerians across the country to hold MASS MEETINGS and sensitisation rallies to REJECT the latest hikes and to STRUGGLE to DEFEAT it, preparatory to the commencement of mass actions, which we agreed should commence Wednesday, September 16, 2020 to demand:

6.1 Immediate and unconditional reversal of the hike in petrol price from the N160 to the N86.50.

6.2 That Government has a responsibility to make our Refineries to work and build new ones in order to ensure that availability of petroleum products (petrol, diesel, kerosene, aviation fuel, etc) at cheaper and affordable prices to all.

6.3 Total Reversal of the capitalist policies of Privatisation and Deregulation, which have been responsible for improper functioning of the local refineries, looting by government officials and fuel marketers through fuel importation and subsidies; and the collapse and fraudulent hand over to private profiteers of public enterprises, such as PHCN, NITEL, Nigeria Airways, Nigerian Ports Authority, Ajaokuta Steel, Osogbo Steel Rolling Mill, Itakpe Iron and Ore, Tafawa Balewa Square, National Arts Theatre, Trade Fair Complex, ALSCON, Nigerian Newsprint Manufacturing Company (NNMC), Daily Times, etc.

6.4 INSIST that Government, should in obedience to Section 16 of the 1999 Constitution on Economic Objectives, respects the provisions that state that:

● Section 16 (1) (b) – “control of the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen …”

● Section 16 (1) (c) – manage and operate major sectors of the economy.

● Section 16 (2) – the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that: [Section 16 (2) (c)] –the economic system is not operated in such manner as to permit the concentration of wealth; or means of production; and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group.

6.5 Massive Public investments in industrialization and infrastructure (energy, rail, road, and mass housing) to enhance millions of employment opportunities and wealth creation.

6.6 INSIST that public investments in the energy sector (fuel and electricity) and other public sectors can be efficient if they are under the democratic control and management of committees of workers, consumers and representatives of the government; who would ensure that they are not opened to looting and collapse as was evident in all the previous looters' regimes of Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan and the current looter regime of Buhari.

6.7 Unconditional implementation of the new National Minimum Wage across board and payment of all outstanding allowances and arrears to all categories of public and private employments and ensure respect for collective agreements reached with Labour unions.

6.8 Adequate funding of public education, in particular, the immediate and unconditional implementation of 2009 and all substantive agreements reached with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on funding, and respect for university autonomy in the payment system to all university workers .

7. The meeting agreed to continue engagement with labour partners – NLC and TUC for a joint programme of resistance to the latest hikes and resolved to commence independent course of actions with groups that are ready to struggle for the unconditional reversal in prices of fuel, electricity and VAT and also to struggle to Defeat the capitalist policies of austerity measures targeted at the poor and the working people. In addition, the meeting resolved on a long-drawn struggle for political power and urged Nigerians to raise the alternative banner of SYSTEM CHANGE (SOCIALISM), which is the REAL CHANGE.

CONCLUSION:

8. The meeting appealed to Nigerians of the necessity to struggle to END the unjust system of capitalism and its failed policies of Privatisation, Deregulation, etc, end the era of looting and exploitation by the corrupt capitalist ruling cabals in order to bring forth a new POLITICAL and ECONOMIC ORDER under the JUST SYSTEM of SYSTEM CHANGE (SOCIALISM. It is only a JUST SYSTEM that can ensure that the wealth of the country is judiciously used to benefit the majority working population (formal and informal sectors) and the oppressed poor.

PREPARE & JOIN OTHERS TO ORGANISE & PREPARE FOR MASS ACTION NOW!

DARE TO STRUGGLE, DARE TO WIN!

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