Down with the Imperialist Oil Price Regulating Cartel, OPEC+! Nationalize the Oil Industry and the Power Sector under Workers & Masses Control! For a Global Eco-Friendly Energy Scheme!
On Thursday, 6th August 2020, The South West chapter of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) directed all its members in the zone to increase the dispensing pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from N143 to N150 in their respective filling stations. This is only an example of a now widespread development amongst other associations of petroleum products marketers in the North and all over the country. It is in response to the announced official increment, on August 5th, of the ex-depot price by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) of PMS from 111.78 naira/litre in July to 138.62 naira/litre (an 18% increase). Other petroleum products such as diesel and kerosene also had their ex-depot price* increased to 160-165 naira/litre and 160 naira/litre respectively. Even cooking gas prices also went up. What this means is that at the local retail outlets for motorists and other consumers, the actual price for PMS will range from 150-170 naira/litre and for other products even higher. 
It goes without saying that the new hike in petroleum products prices, no doubt, spells multifaceted hardship for the average Nigerian because of the potential to push to extremes the hyper-inflation already affecting the prices of commodities and transportation.
The PPPRA however has strangely not given any stipulated bench mark for consumers to purchase petroleum products at the fuelling stations.  This is not totally surprising since the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries the PPPRA and the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) have been brandishing arguments of “deregulation” of the oil industry and now they claim to practise a “partial deregulation” policy. 
It seems to us that all this talk about “deregulation” is in fact an attempt to atomize and confuse the masses so as to prevent a mass uprising that the government fears will emanate from a direct proclamation of the a new retail price for consumers. The Nigerian masses must not fall for this as it is possible for the official announcement to be further delayed. Many members of the leaderships of trade unions continue to orientate towards the Nigerian bourgeois, this time they do so by supporting “deregulation”. Take the quote from the speech of the General Secretary, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Mr Afolabi Olawale as an example; “Our position is that we don’t support any form of deregulation that is based on importation. We support deregulation that is based on local refining of products.”
The National Public Relations Officer, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), said the Federal Government should ensure that the nation’s refineries “are fully commercialised using the Nigeria LNG model.” Mr Ambrose Oruche, the Acting Director-General of MAN, also expressed the same idea only this time he tacitly recognized the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity for these attacks; “The deregulation which came in as a result of COVID-19 pandemic was a welcome development”. He goes further to confirm that the attacks are not over as far as petroleum industry is concerned; “Price increase will continue but it will be better if there is a refinery to address issues of refining and cost implications locally; if they cannot be refined locally, more investments may not come into the local refinery except the Petroleum Industry Bill is signed.” 
While, on principle, we oppose any form of deregulation and support local production of PMS and other petroleum products, we do not think any serious, full or real form of deregulation is possible, simply because the present stage of capitalism is ruled by monopolies that have become more fused with the state. One has only to look at how the Nigerian government have vacillated over the removal and return of fuel subsidy in the past decade. One can argue that it is due to mass resistance and this too is true yet it is also largely because of the state-monopoly relations in the commanding heights of the economy. The same can be said of the power sector where budgetary allocations are made despite claims that the power sector has been privatized.
Even with presence of working local refineries, a deregulation is still a mirage as it will be controlled by the ruling cabals. Just one indication to confirm this fact is that Aliko Dangote, the richest Nigerian and African is already adding the finishing touches to his petroleum refinery after enjoying unrestrained monopoly in other industries of the country.  Should such a large refinery become functional it will determine prices for petroleum products even if the handful of abandoned refineries are revived. In such a situation all “investments” will come and will be enjoyed by the same cabal. “Deregulation” mixed with phrases of local production of petroleum products become a decoy/justification for anti masses attacks.
For us in the Vanguard, these are only signs of maturing anti-people attacks launched by the Nigerian bourgeois class as a necessary offspring of a period of deepening economic recession and crises. It was not long ago that the pump price of petroleum products was hiked in July by 31 naira/litre as part of this streak of attacks.
The upward review of pump price for PMS from 121.50 to 143.80 naira/litre which became official on 1st July, 2020, was in essence a continuum of the policy which led to the announcement that the fuel subsidy was to be totally removed just months back. In any case, such an increment comes within the broader context of global oil politics since we experienced the reduction of oil prices not just in Nigeria but all over the world in May/June. Like every other thing, the abysmal fall in oil prices in the past few months was a product of the infectious crises at the core of this historic stage of the capitalist world called imperialism. In this regard, it is important to clear the air by placing the rise and fall of oil prices in the setting of Great Power rivalry which is rife in our world.
With the advent of strict lock downs and travel bans imposed by world governments the supply of oil barrels became greatly larger than the demand. The capitalist cartel controlling global oil sales through OPEC+ who were already at loggerheads even before the inception of the pandemic became more aggressive towards each other. This is hardly surprising since the whole travesty of the measures imposed under the pretext of preventing the spread of COVID-19 was, in the real sense, partly protectionist tactics to sustain their economic position in the face of an economic slump which is almost as serious, if not more, than the Great Depression of 1929. We have already explained numerous times that in this 2nd Great Depression, the ruling classes exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to launch preemptive strikes against the workers and oppressed masses who will, as all indications show, fight back immediately the effects of this Depression begin to rear its head.  This time we focus on the specific effects of the imperialist rivalry as it affects and reflects in the turbulence in the oil market.
With no side of the imperialist faction ready to concede to an excessive loss after over-production of oil, Russia the second most powerful imperialist power in the East defies the commitment to its own quota of oil supply in order to attack the oil industry of the US which is not an oil producing or exporting nation itself but which utilizes its influence as the major world imperialist power to monopolize greatly at the international level the oil resources of the Persian gulf states like Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, a regional power and the largest exporter of oil to the US, finds itself a stooge of the imperialist power and at the receiving end of the attacks by Russia against the US. As a reprisal the Bin Salman led kingdom of Saudi Arabia also flooded the market with oil above the approved quota even though this will affect the US oil industry detrimentally. This was the reason the oil prices in the US plummeted to almost zero and the price of petroleum products globally fell in like manner. 
In such a tug of war between imperialist heavy weights, a poorly industrialized semi-colony or neocolony like Nigeria remains subject to the caprices of the outplay of such battle. Several lessons can be drawn out of this, first since the price of crude fell so low recently, it can be implied that there’s more than enough crude to go round, that is, with proper planning an average person in Nigeria can purchase it at the most affordable price. This means OPEC+ is only a cartel of capitalists who deliberately manipulate the demand and supply of the mineral resource so they can reap maximum profit from it irrespective of the consequences for the global poor. Secondly, since such a global price collapse of oil caused by ruling class in-fighting means massive unemployment for workers in the oil sector the present state of oil production and regulation becomes immediately moribund and must be abolished. It should be replaced by workers controlled democratic mechanism. Thirdly, with the humongous profits accrued by these powers it becomes nearly impossible to explore other forms of energy consumption that are eco-friendly. The rise of new diseases and disasters is greatly hinged on profit-driven penchant of these powers to consume fuels that destroy the ecosystem.
The effects of climate change has already reached alarming levels such that they are felt more by the so-called “third world” respectively the global working class. The city of Wuhan one of the most populated working class regions in China has experienced torrents of disasters first, through the corona virus outbreak and now through dastardly floods that have submerged the property of the people.  Authentic revolutionaries and progressive unionists must not allow the same bourgeois forces which caused these disasters to utilize them for their political interests just as they did the COVID-19 pandemic.
If nothing is done these attacks and increments are bound to continue and not only in the oil sector but others as well.
We must put the whole energy generation, distribution and consumption under the democratic control of the workers and popular masses so that the safety of planet and advancement of the human race can be put first and last. This will naturally occur by the nationalization of the oil industry in Nigeria and other petroleum exporting countries coupled with local production of petroleum. Further, it will certainly put the workers and oppressed in direct conflict with international cartels like OPEC+ and require the expropriation of their parasitic transnational energy corporations such as Shell, Exxon Mobil etc.
No to any form of deregulation! Only a mass controlled oil industry can put the price regulation mechanisms in the hands and interest of the people. Hence an intransigent war must be waged on all forms of hikes on public services. Only through a popular uprising can these changes be realized, thus all restrictions on the right to freely demonstrate and gather publicly must be defeated. For us the only way to avert massive deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic and other deadly diseases such as malaria, AIDS, obesity, cardiovascular diseases etc. remains to change the objective conditions of health care and education by expanding the health system; funding education properly; providing hygienic and standard housing for the population; fighting malnutrition and other hunger related deaths with food supplies for the poor etc.
All of these cannot be given by the oppressor they must be taken by the oppressed. The August 5th, CORE RevolutionNow protests is a crucial example of how all of these is possible.  However such remonstrances must be linked in solidarity with uprisings in Mali, Lebanon, Hong-Kong, Serbia and the US against all imperialist powers and their stooges in the semi-colonial nations. These movements must begin to form delegates, action committees to lead them and most importantly armed self-defense committees to ward off the enemy in blue and the terrorists butchers of the ruling class like Boko Haram.
We seize this medium to demand the immediate and unconditional release of two RevolutionNow protesters, Olawale Bakare (Mandate) and Abiodun Sanusi (Socialist) arrested at the August 5th protest who are now in DSS detention.
Onward in the struggle for a socialist future!
Signed: Oladipupo Jimoh,
International Liaison Personnel,
Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard, [RCIT Nigeria].
*Ex-depot price is the amount depot owners and marketers are allowed to pay to lift products from NNPC depots for distribution to retail outlets across the country.
 visit our website www. revolutionarysocialistvanguard.WordPress.com. for articles and statements on the whole COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the economy, see http://www.the communists.net for books and other publications on this.