The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has kicked against the recent hike in the price of petrol in Nigeria, saying that it is insensitive and ill-timed.
The Benin City, Edo State-based not-for-profit group disclosed in a statement issued on Thursday that, without employment, energy supply and socio-economic safety nets, the masses “have been thrown into shark-infested waters and with neither life guards nor life jackets.”
The Nigerian central government on Tuesday disclosed that it had removed subsidy from the sale of the product, thus effecting an increase of pump price from N86 per litre to N145.
The statement, signed by Cadmus Atake, the HOMEF Project Officer, quoted Nnimmo Bassey, head of HOMEF, as saying: “The poor have always been at the wrong end of the stick. For example, the price of kerosene, the poor man’s fuel, has remained extraordinarily high and their pleas continue to fall on deaf ears.
“We have always said that if there ever was any subsidy, it was the impoverished peoples of the polluted oil field communities that have been providing that subsidy. They continue to subsidise the cost of petroleum products with their lives and by environmental costs that are never brought into consideration.”
HOMEF, he added, believes that basing the price of petroleum products on importation costs is questionable planning and an abject abnegation of responsibility by the government.
“That sort of arrangement would be tenable when Nigeria decides to transit to a post petroleum economy and shut in the dastardly polluting petroleum sector and move on to truly productive and jobs-generating sectors,” he stressed.
“If the importers of petroleum products have to source their foreign exchange from the black market, Nigerians should be ready for pump prices that will go through the roof,” cautions Cadmus Atake, Project Officer on climate/fossil fuels at HOMEF. “Has the black market become our Central Bank?” he demanded.
Bassey described the official endorsement of black market forex deals as “a roundabout way of devaluing the Naira, while living in denial of the fact. This can neither encourage investors or aid transparency in the sector.”
His words: “At a time when millions are unemployed and workers are not being paid as at and when due; at a time when we have to provide our own electricity and water justice demands that policies must be anchored on the best interests of the majority of Nigerians and not on the huge profit margins of petroleum importing cartels.”