Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), a civil rights advocacy group, has slammed the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, for saying he won’t mind buying petrol at N300 a litre because other countries sell their products at higher prices than in Nigeria and N300 is nothing when compared or changed to the United States dollar and the British pound sterling.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement said the comment of Sylva is crudely insensitive to the plight of Nigerians, who, for months, have been suffering unavailability and expensive cost per litre of Premium Motor Spirit known as petrol.
The group also said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, which Sylva serves had failed woefully to fulfil its campaign promises to revive the nation’s moribund refineries, as he vowed to do in his manifesto in 2015 when he was vying for offices under the deceptive mantra of “Change”.
Sylva had, at a presentation on Monday, in Abuja, said N300 per litre is not too high for petrol, adding “if you convert the N300 to other currencies, you will probably understand.”
Commenting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The statement by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Silva is insensitive and totally disrespectful to the sensibilities of Nigerians because whereas the President Muhammadu Buhari has been the senior minister of Petroleum for about eight years, he failed woefully to revive the moribund refineries in Nigeria, which he promised in his manifestoes in 2015 before his election.
“It is perplexing that despite the overt fact that the four government refineries in the country have not produced a single drop of refined petrol, they still gulped N100bn yearly for rehabilitation and maintenance, according to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.
“It still remains a wonder of the century how a government will make such a phantom claim of maintaining non-functional refineries for about eight years.
“Aside from the refineries’ rehabilitation shenanigan, the same Buhari administration sunk billions into importation of refined petrol while stifling the local businesses with multiple taxations and harsh economic climate. The so-called petrol subsidy has also been shrouded in secrecy as not many Nigerians know who the importers are and how the subsidy is paid.
“According to reports, the Buhari regime has spent over N16.9tn on the importation of not less than 132.24 billion litres of petrol yet Nigerians cannot be said to have consumed half of the imported commodity since May 2015.
“The 60 million daily fuel consumption has become a continuous debate as the figure has been questioned as inflated to allow the cartel purloining subsidy to continue their illicit venture.
“It is a shame that even when officially there is a dispensing price for fuel in Nigeria, motorists are subjected to the manipulations of buying at higher pump price and here is the minister making insensitive, callous and uncharitable remarks.
“HURIWA calls on Nigerians to vote for a capable President on February 25 to effectively investigate the epic crude oil theft and the diversion of huge revenues from the crude oil sales by the government.”