By Chioma Obinna
Worried by the untold hardship Nigerians may face due to the Federal Government’s planned deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry scheduled forÂ November 1, the Human Rights Writersâ€™ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has called on the Nigeria Labour Congress and other civil society organisations to organise mass action to protest what they described as the unpopular policy.
HURIWA, which noted that the planned deregulation would inevitably result in further deterioration of the living condition of a majority of Nigerians, described the planned hike of pump price as â€˜Satanicâ€™ and anti-poor.
Its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko,Â urged President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua not to impose the most ”excruciating” and ”poverty-friendly” economic policies to further impoverish the suffering populace hundreds of thousands of whom are dying of hunger, starvation and widespread poverty.
HURIWA submitted that any further upward review or hike of the pump price of fuel in Nigeria will automatically affect the general cost of living in Nigeria, warned the Federal Government that further impoverishment of the civil populace could result to widespread social crime of armed robbery, kidnaping and will trigger mass exodus of Nigerians to other countries in search of better condition of living. HURIWA reminded Government that thousands of Nigerians who left the country in the past because of the hardship in Nigeria are now living like slaves and refugees in their new countries of abode.
The Rights group faulted governmentâ€™s explanation that deregulation will ensure that there will be no more shortages ofÂ supply in Nigeria and stated that the failure of successive administrations to maintain and standardize facilities in the four refineries in the country and the total lack of transparency and accountability of how the several Billions of tax payersâ€™ money voted and released for turn around maintenance of the refineries were wantonly looted, stolen and stashed in the private accounts of top Government officials, is primarily responsible for the bad state of the few refineries in the country.
It argued that fuel subsidy in any part of the world has never led to collapse of refineries but poor maintenance and corruption as is the case in Nigeria.
HURIWA argued that it is simply standing logic on itâ€™s head for the current administration to tell Nigerians that we have to pay more for fuel derivable from the abundant crude oil deposits that God endowed Nigeria with even when citizens of countries where crude oil is not found pay far cheaper for the same product.
The Rights group also faulted the federal governmentâ€™s claim that it is only by hiking the pump price of premium motor spirit that scarcity will disappear because it is illogical and unacceptable.
HURIWA urged the Federal government and the anti-graft agencies to investigate the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of several Billions of tax payerâ€™s money voted and released for turn-around-maintenance of the existing refineries in the country which are now in a total state of disrepair.