The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has flayed the Federal Government’s removal of the so-called subsidy on petroleum products, describing the decision as “complete insensitivity” to the plight of Nigerians.
ERA, in a statement by its Executive Director, Nnimmo Bassey, said what the masses want the Federal Government to fight was corruption.
Bassey said: “The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), in a statement signed by its Executive Secretary, Reginald Stanley, had announced the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) on January 1, 2012, claiming the decision was informed by extensive consultation with stakeholders across the nation.
“It also said that in the coming weeks, it will work with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and engage stakeholders in further consultation to ensure the continuation of the exercise.
“This New Year slap on the faces of Nigerians is totally objectionable and smacks of insensitivity to the genuine needs of the Nigerian masses. It shows a government that would rather punish the poor than confront the cabal they say exists in the petroleum sector.
“This policy is an additional burden on already disillusioned poor Nigerians. It is astonishing the same administration that is yet to implement recommendations of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) assessment of Ogoniland five months after, or independently verify spills like in the case of Shell’s spill from the Bonga facility, could act so swiftly and cunningly to choke an already gasping people.”
Countering government’s argument that the central purse subsidises the cost of petroleum products import, Bassey insisted that, on the contrary, it is community people living side-by-side the oil fields and the Nigerian environment that actually subsidise the cost of crude and refined products.
Bassey added: “Enough is enough! The poor and the environment have sufficiently subsidised resource corruption and through environmental impacts and loss of livelihoods. Ninety-nine per cent of the population is again being forced to bear the brunt of corrupt practices enjoyed by the 1 per cent.
“We reiterate our rejection of this wicked New Year’s gift to Nigerians by a government which appears bent on pleasing the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other international agencies, whose cronies are embedded in the administration. We demand an immediate reversal of the policy.”
ERA said the “sham” which the PPPRA dubbed national consultation on which it based the decision to remove the so-called subsidy was a crude smokescreen to usher in a new era of impoverishment for Nigerians.