By Emmanuel Onwubiko

''Any contemplation of withdrawing the little subsidy said to be given for the benefit of poor Nigerians to bring down the pump price of petroleum products by Government is a comprehensive socio-economic suicide and an unmitigated anathema which must be put off immediately. Government has a constitutional and legal duty not to impose a set of harsh economic policies such as petroleum subsidy withdrawal because the social wellbeing and security of the Nigerian People is the primary duty of Government and the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria belongs to the people of Nigeria from who those in government derive their authority and legitimacy''

With the above statement the Pro-Democracy Non-Governmental Organization- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA [HURIWA] kicked against the plot by the Nigerian Federal Government to totally withdraw subsidy from premium motor spirit which in effect will result in the consequential high purchasing pump prices of petroleum products across the country. HURIWA thereby tasked the Nigerian Government to pursue with more vigour the prosecution in the law courts of the subsidy fund thieves so as to recover the money stolen by them in order to even provide additional subsidy packages to benefit the poor people of Nigeria who are amongst the poorest globally even in the estimation of the World Bank in a recent study of the World's poor populations.

In a statement against the backdrop of the affirmation by the petroleum minister Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke that fuel subsidy must be withdrawn, the Rights group condemned in no uncertain terms the idea that the subsidy on petroleum products may eventually be withdrawn because in the view of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria [HURIWA] the Nigerian Government should first and foremost retrieve to the last kobo the over N1 trillion stolen subsidy fund which disappeared when fake and criminally minded fuel importers were hired by the Nigerian Government in the last budget year but they failed to deliver refined petroleum products into the Nigerian market but instead disappeared with the humongous public fund.

Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko the National Coordinator and Miss Zainab Yusuf the National Media Affairs Director of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria [HURIWA] who jointly endorsed the media statement faulted the hasty decision by the Nigerian Government to withdraw subsidy from petroleum products even before the crooks who diverted the over N1 trillion Petroleum Subsidy Fund have been compelled through the competent courts of law to cough out the stolen public fund just as the Rights group expressed consternation and absolute disappointment with the anti-graft bodies for a dereliction of statutory functions which has occasioned the delay in effectively and professionally completing the pursuits of justice for the Nigerian People so the stolen subsidy fund are retrieved and return to public coffers.

HURIWA also faulted the Nigerian Government's determined effort to inflict more existential pains and unprecedented economic suffering for the oppressed millions of impoverished and hungry Nigerian populations if the subsidy on petroleum products are removed just as the Rights group said even in fully capitalist economies like the United Kingdom and the United States of America the respective national governments have clearly structured and well implemented social security and social protection welfare programs which are put in place to mitigate the high cost of living for the poorest members of their respective governments.

''Why is the Nigerian Government bent on increasing the cost of living for the millions of dying and hungry Nigerians by contemplating the removal of subsidy from petroleum products because of the undue pressures mounted on Nigerian Government by the Bretton wood Institutions of World Bank and the International Monetary Fund [IMF] when even the United States whereby these financial institutions are located have in place effective social security programs for the millions of their poor populace?''.

On the argument by the Nigerian Minister of Petroleum that the removal of subsidy would provide a competitive environment and sustain supply and that part of the reason for the withdrawal of subsidy from petroleum products was to fully deregulate the downstream sector, HURIWA challenged Government to work out and implement error free subsidy disbursement mechanisms so the real poor people who needs assistance to survive do benefit directly from the fuel subsidy fund.

''It would amount to collective punishment of the millions of poor Nigerians for petroleum subsidy to be removed at this time and to subject them to the vagaries of free market economy which will result in comprehensive hardships for the impoverished millions of Nigerians. We implore Government to avoid the national catastrophe that may be occasioned should Government proceed with the private sector induced sinister plot to withdraw subsidy from petroleum products.

Government should be warned of possible revolts from the masses if such a satanic policy is allowed to come to fruition. It smacks of the height of insensitivity and reckless disdain of the people of Nigeria that Government is plotting actively to impose further hardships on the poor people whilst at the same time paying unbelievable huge and obscene amounts public fund to the national legislators as hazard allowances when in actual fact the Government ought to even pay hazard allowances to the millions of poor and suffering Nigerian people who have never benefited from the enormous natural and mineral resources that God endowed Nigeria with''.