A CLARION CALL TO ACTION
We are living through very hard, but equally interesting times; through a period of another historic crises of the global capitalist [free market] economy; a crisis so deep that although it began as a global financial crisis, it has now engulfed the entire global capitalist/market economy, and the political and socio-cultural systems supported by this economy.
In its present phase, the crisis is at once a global economic, as well, as a global political and socio-cultural crisis. Not only Huge corporations and financial institutions are going bankrupt and needing large scale bailouts; but so also are whole countries [Greece, Ireland, Ice Land, Spain, Italy etc] going bankrupt and needing bailouts of historic proportions.
Furthermore, as economic crisis have deepened, so have the political crisis, so much so that from one country to another, governing parties are losing their majorities, and opposition parties, are gaining majorities that are not enough to form a government without going into coalitions. Elsewhere across the globe, and away from Europe, Asia, and the Americas, in North Africa and the Middle East, more dramatic political crisis is unfolding, precipitating historic mass uprisings and revolutionary upheavals, unprecedented in the life of a generation. In the MENA region, at this moment, three long standing regimes have been deposed [Tunisia, Egypt & Libya], two intense civil wars are ongoing [Syria & Yemen], and tension is rising and building up in the other countries forcing monarchs and ruling parties to propose different types of reforms to douse the rising popular anger [Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria].
A central characteristic of the response of ruling classes and elites right across the world to the global crisis, has been to try to bailout [subsidise big business and the banks], while passing on the burden of recovery and stabilization to the working and toiling peoples, through cuts in social spending [withdrawal of subsidies to the majority], increases in cost of services, and imposition of new levies among others.
Nevertheless, as they have tried to increase the burden of hardships on the majority, so have the resistance of the majority intensified. The result today is the revolutionary upheaval in the MENA, the waves of strikes across Europe and the Americas, and the growing Occupy movement.Here at home in Nigeria, the global economic crisis has been compounded by the monumental corruption of the ruling class, its administrative and managerial ineptitude, and its political and governance incompetence.
The Nigerian ruling class has been content to loot the treasury, and to place its pecuniary interests far above the collective interest of the Nation and her people. Nowhere is this more glaring than in the energy sector, with respect to electricity generation and distribution, and petroleum products refining and distribution. This ruling class prefers to continue to pretend to be helpless before a cabal/cartel of its own making, one that enjoys its patronage that controls generator importation and fuel importation.
Because of its own selfish interests, this ruling class, will spend billions of dollars on the importation of generators, basic food stuff, and refined petroleum products; rather than invest in power generation and distribution in the country, crude refining and distribution capacity within the country, and in the value chains of basic food in-country.
They undertake these unconscionable acts with such impunity, because they are more interested in lining their pockets than in making the country work for her citizens.
Now they claim there is a subsidy on refined petroleum products, because they have failed to revive the refineries at home or build new ones after spending close to 100 billion Naira on Turn Around Maintenances that have turned nothing around in the sector, except the bank accounts of those responsible for this grand theft, who are known, yet still walk the streets of our country free!
Given the parlous nature of the power/electricity sector, we know that virtually every sector of the economy is now directly dependent on fuel to run generators to generate power for industrial, commercial, agriculture production and processing, transportation and domestic use. It therefore stands to reason that any increase in the pump price of fuel/petrol, even a marginal increase, not to talk of the proposed 130% increase, will be quite devastating for the economy and crushing for the standard and conditions of living of the people. Cost of production and overheads will increase across the board; transportation and logistics cost for moving goods and services, as well as for moving humans, will also increase astronomically.
The overall impact of all of these will be higher costs for food, basic services [education, healthcare], declining standard of living, increased absolute & relative poverty, rising joblessness and homelessness, as well as increased crime and insecurity.
This is why it is incumbent on us, this generation of Nigerians to resist these insensitive and anti people policy of Fuel subsidy removal, and the privatisation [theft of public wealth by a few connected members of the political elites and their foreign backers] and deregulation [the falsehood that market regulates itself, and there is no need for the active developmental intervention of a transformative state - the response of Europe to the eurozone crisis, of the US, UK, German, French, Cinese & other governments to the global crisis; all prove the lie of this assertion] macro -economic frameworks on which it is based
Gaskia and Henshaw are of the United Action for Democracy (UAD).