The recent increase of petrol price by the Federal Government could not have come at a less opportune time. Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) roundly rejects this price hike, considering it to be insensitive and ill-timed; noting that without employment, energy supply and socio-economic safety nets, the masses of Nigeria have been thrown into shark-infested waters with neither life guards nor life jackets.
“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”, says Nnimmo Bassey, the Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation. “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 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.
“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?” Atake asked.
Bassey agrees and adds that official endorsement of black market forex deals is 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.
“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,” added Bassey.