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Communiqué Of The Public Meeting Organised By The Peoples Alternative Political Movement (TPAP-M) And Allies On Impending Hikes In Fuel And Electricity Prices

December 25, 2021

In the ten years since the January Uprising (Occupy Nigeria) of 2012, the four public refineries have remained moribund, while mo new public refineries have been built.

The People's Alternative Political Movement (TPAP-M), a coalition of individuals and organisations committed to the emergence and building of a Mass Workers Party, and the Socialist Transformation of Nigeria, on Sunday, 12th of December 2021 convened a Public Meeting on the deteriorating state of the nation in general, the unacceptable evolving developments with regards to rising energy costs, and the impending unconscionable hikes in Fuel price and electricity tariff being proposed by the anti people regime currently superintending over the Nigerian state on behalf of the failed and ruining Ruling Class.

The Public Meeting was very well attended by groups and individuals from across the country, including the affiliates of TPAP-M, the Coalition on NGO Networks in Northern Nigeria, Trade Union Congress, AUPCTRE, Campaign for Transformative Governance (CFTG), Representatives of Informal Sector Workers, Women formations, and youth and young persons, including those who continue to play front line roles in the #EndSARS movement.

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The Public Meeting was convened against the background of the unfolding and rapidly deepening crisis in the energy sector. This triple energy crisis is characterised by risings Gas prices, which has made Gas unaffordable to the poor and even the middle classes; as well as the threatened hikes in fuel price and electricity tariff, which would price these essential products and services out of the reach of the impoverished masses and make energy completely unaffordable to the working people and the toiling masses.

The combined implication of all of these is that Nigerians would be further impoverished, businesses - in particular small and medium scale businesses will struggle to survive, will lay off staff and even close up. Big businesses will also struggle with rising production costs, and those who can manage to stay afloat will do so at the expense of their workforce (many of whom will be laid off) and of ordinary citizens (to whom they will shift the cost).

 At the end of long, thorough and robust discussions, the Public Meeting made the Following Observations, and Adopted the Following Resolutions:

OBSERVATIONS:

A. That at the root of the energy crisis is the crass incompetence of ruling class regimes over the past three decade, as well as the tragic failure of leadership and administrative incompetence of the current regime;

B. What ruling class regimes and their economists continue to refer to as subsidy (under recovery, etc), is intact the outcome of the failure and incompetence of the ruling class in general, and the current regime in particular to ensure that as an oil producing country, we have adequate domestic refining capacity to meet our domestic needs for refined petroleum products.

C. This so-called subsidy exists because of the price differential between the landing cost of imported fuel and the pump price of fuel. This differential exists because we are totally dependent as a country on imported refined petroleum products.

D. Nigeria is the only OPEC member country that imports more than 90 to 05%of refined petroleum products for its domestic consumption. For other OPEC member countries, the reverse is the case - virtually every other OPEC member country meet their domestic needs for refined petroleum products through domestic refining. Most other OPEC member countries depend on less than 20% imported refined petroleum products to meet domestic needs.

E. Another reason given by the regime, and all previous regimes is the narrative around the price of fuel being much cheaper in Nigeria, due to subsidy that it encourages fuel smuggling across the borders. This regime even suggests that the scale of smuggling has increased so much that it is now over 50 million liters per day. Now, let us examine this fallacious claim. 50 million liters of fuel will require 1,600 fuel tankers of 33,000 liters each to transport. Is the government saying 1,600 (33,000L) tankers are driven across the border is this country every single day? Fuel tankers are not spirits, nor are they invisible; how come 1,600 such trucks cross our borders undetected everyday? Such an enterprise large organisation, as well as security for protection. These will require a minimum of 3,200 tanker drivers and loaders to manage 1,600 tankers. This failure of government and the ruling class to curb such a large scale smuggling operation is the reason why the ruling class cannot protect citizens in the homes, communities and as they go about their daily lives.

F. When in January 2012, the GEJ regime unconscionably hiked fuel prices in the name of removing fuel subsidy, there was a justifiable mass outrage, which precipitated the January Uprising, also known as Occupy Nigeria, where for more than two weeks, there were mass protests and across more than 55 cities and a mass general workers strike that lasted a week and paralysed the economy.

G. Recall that the exact same reasons pushed ten years ago by the Jonathan administration, are still being pushed by the current Buhari administration as justifications for the fuel price hike.

H. Is it that in ten solid years, nothing has changed? And that despite removing so-called subsidy in 2012, in 2016, there is still subsidy to be removed in 2022? For as long as we continue to be totally dependent as a country on imported refined petroleum products to meet domestic needs; for as long as our moribund refineries continue to be comatose, and we continue to lack any significant domestic refining capacity; for so long shall we continue to be faced with the problem of hiking fuel price in order to be able to cover landing cost of imported fuel, which is itself also negatively impacted by the deterioration in the value of the Naira against the Dollar.

I. In the ten years since the January Uprising (Occupy Nigeria) of 2012, the four public refineries have remained moribund, while mo new public refineries have been built; And this is in spite of the fact that more than $2bn have been spent on the Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of these moribund refineries since then.

J. In addition to the over $2bn wasted over TAMs since 2012, over the last six years (since 2015), additional $6bn ($2.7bn in Dangote refinery, and more than $3bn in so-called Greenwich refineries program) have been invested in private sector refinery projects, with nothing to show for it.

K. Only recently, a further $1.5bn was appropriated by NASS for the repair of the PH refinery complex.

L. Yet despite all of these investments totalling approximately $9.5bn in the refinery sector since 2012, we still as a nation cannot boast of any domestic refining capacity, we still do not have any functional domestic refinery - public or private, and we are still more than 95% dependent on imported refined petroleum products to meet domestic needs.

M. What is intriguing and amazing is that despite all these investments and all these failures, no one has been held accountable for this monumental theft of public wealth and sabotage of the economy - either managerially or politically. No management of the refineries nor of NNPC have sacked and indicted over these failures, nor has any political appointee, minister or even government been sacked and or indicted!

N. The same problems at the root of the fuel crisis are at the root of the gas crisis. Despite abundant gas fields, including the monumental wastage ongoing through gas flaring - which although has been illegal and outlawed since 1984 still continues unabated; we are as a nation overwhelmingly dependent on the imported of processed gas to meet domestic consumption needs. The dependence on importation despite massive and humongous investments in the the facilities for production and distribution of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), and the recent restoration of custom duty on imported liquefied Natural Has (LNG) by this current regime, are the main cause of the current crisis in pricing, availability and affordability of cooking gas being experienced in the country, imposing further hardships on our people.

O. With respect to the electricity crisis, nothing exposes the failure of the so-called privatisation of the power sector, than the continuing pricing crisis. The recent situation with AEDC involving the sack of the management and the take over of the major share holding in the company by the Bank (UBA), the bank which had advanced the loan with which the consortium bought AEDC during the privatisation; is the biggest insight and corroboration yet of the widespread believe that the privatisation exercise was fundamentally faulty; that the power sector was sold to political jobbers without technical competence, and who also syndicated the loans through which they bought the generation and distribution companies, which were sold at pittances - from our local banks; loans which were guaranteed by public institutions.

P. In the Years since the privatisation of the power sector, and with gross deterioration in service provided, Nigerian governments under Jonathan and Buhari have disbursed more than N2.7tn in so-called intervention funds to support the GENCOs and DISCOs, and all without anything to show for it.

Q. Furthermore, we note that Nigeria is unique among OPEC member countries in the near absence, or total collapse in the delivery of public education, public healthcare delivery, public housing, and public transportation - that is qualitative, adequate, and accessible - with little or no user fees. Every other OPEC member country has functional, quality, affordable, and accessible national and nationwide public healthcare, public education, and public housing programs.

R. It is in this sense that we assert that subsidies, when they exist and are deliberately utilised are a fundamental part of the process of delivering equitable, inclusive and just governance. Everywhere in the world, responsible governments and ruling classes use subsidies to provision the needs of the overwhelming majority of citizens, and as a means of wealth redistribution in the interest of the toiling masses.

S. We also observe that increasing levels of hardships, the rising costs of living, and the intensifying inhumane conditions of living of the working people and toiling masses is at the root of the intractable nature, character, dimension and scale and scope of insecurity in the country.

RESOLUTIONS:

In the light of the foregoing, the Public Meeting Resolved as Follows:

1. That we reject in its totality the hike in the price of Gas, and the impending hikes in the price of fuel and electricity tariff;

2. We insist that Nigerians cannot and must not be punished for the failures and incompetence of the ruling class and this regime in ensuring access to affordable energy and adequate security and protection.

3. We demand that past and present managements of the NNPC and the four moribund refineries should be indicted, prosecuted and brought to book for their crass incompetence that has resulted into the failure since 2012 to have to turn around the fortunes of the refineries and make them work at optimum capacity, thus contributing significantly to Nigeria's ability to acquire adequate domestic refining capacity.

4. We demand that all political office holders who have had responsibility for oversighting - in executive or legislative capacity, the petroleum sector should be investigated, indicted and prosecuted.

5. We demand the complete reversal of the power sector privatisation, and the renationalisation of the power sector, bringing it under the control and management of key stakeholders, including workers, and electricity consumers.

6. We demand the recovery of all looted and misappropriated public funds pumped into the petroleum and power sectors (towards improving domestic refining capacity, increasing domestic production of LPG, or towards improving service delivery in the privatised power firms), etc.

7. The recovered funds should be utilised to build new public refineries, improve domestic LPG production, and improve service delivery in the renationalised power sector.

8. We insist that any government that is unable to build public refineries and enable adequate domestic refining capacity for refined petroleum products should resign immediately.

9. In a similar vein, we call on all Nigerians to ensure that they reject any political party and their candidates who do not have any practical, fundable and believable program to resolve the energy crisis, and ensure adequate domestic refining capacity for refined petroleum products, adequate domestic production capacity for LPG, and improved services and coverage for electricity across the country.

10. We serve notice that we shall organise and mobilise Nigerians from all works of life to resist further hardships in general, and the hikes in gas, fuel and electricity prices in particular.

11. Towards this end, the peoples alternative political movement (TPAP-M) shall reach out to other like minded organisations, and link up with similar minded individuals to build a mass base for a massive popular resistance beginning in January 2022.

12. TPAP-M and her allies will organise a week of mobilisations and awareness raising at the beginning of January 2022 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Occupy Nigeria - the January Uprising of 2012; and as well to build up momentum towards generalised mass protests across the country to resist the impending hikes in fuel price and electricity tariff, and the unfolding hike if the price of Gas.

13. We demand a plan and a timeline to meet our demands.

14. That in view of the above, an expanded Coordinating Committee to wage the struggle against Hikes in Energy Prices would be established immediately.

CONCLUSION:

January 2022, will mark ten years since Occupy Nigeria (The January Uprising) of 2012 that shook the nation and the ruling class to its foundation.

It is noteworthy that the very same reasons that impelled Occupy Nigeria are once again coming together to impel another January Uprising - incompetent government; ruling class greed and impunity; absence of domestic refining capacity; rising cost of living; increasing joblessness; and intensifying insecurity.

This time around, we must as a people meet the challenge more resolutely, but also with greater political determination.

Our conclusion is that without addressing and resolving the question of political power - that is of who (which class) holds and wields power; in the interest of who (or which class is power being deployed and utilised); without preparing ourselves, and the working peoples and toiling masses for, and to take power; these problems, among others will never be solved, and will certainly never be resolved in the interest of the toiling masses.

This is why we urge all long suffering, exploited, marginalised, impoverished, and frustrated Citizens and Residents to harken to our call to action, take our destinies into our own hands, and build the Mass Political Movement and Momentum, to not only resist further hardships and hold the government and ruling class accountable; but to also engage politically, and contest political power with the ruling class and all its factions, with a view to taking, and wielding political power in Nigeria.