Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies of the Press,
I am happy to welcome you to this world press conference wherein we first of all seek to join our voices with that of Public Eye, Switzerland, and other partners the world over to draw the attention of the Federal Government of Nigeria to dangers posed to the health of citizens of the West African Sub-region through the activities of Swiss traders – Vitol and Trafigura – Swiss commodity traders which specializes in importing dirty fuels to West Africa.
Kindly recall that before the World Bank Report of 8th September 2016, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/infographic/2016/09/08/death-in-the-air-air-pollution-costs money-and-lives, which said that air pollution has emerged as the deadliest form of pollution and the fourth leading risk factor for premature deaths worldwide, a World Economic Forum Report,which reported that 12 Nigerian cities – Onitsha, Kaduna, Aba, Umuahia, Owerri, Nsukka, Enugu, Ile-Ife, Abakaliki, Afikpo, Nnewi and Orlu –are among the most polluted in the world, preceded it. What this means is that Nigeria forms a significant nucleus of cities in the global economy that have lost about US$225billion in 2013 due to the poor health of her people.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the press: these Swiss commodity trading companies – Vitol and Trafigura, take undue advantage of weak fuel standards in Africa to produce, deliver and sell diesel, Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and gasoline, which damage the health of our people. Their business model relies on an illegitimate strategy of deliberately lowering the quality of fuels for gain. Using a common industry practice called blending, Vitol and Trafigura and their conglomerates mix cheap and toxic intermediate petroleum products to produce what the industry calls “African Quality” fuels. These products contain higher levels of Sulphur and other harmful poisons that can never be found in Europe and the United States. By selling such fuels and diesels at the pump in Africa, the traders increase external air pollution, causing respiratory disease and premature deaths. We all know that poor air quality poses serious risks to public health. As air quality declines, the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases increases for residents of cities where the people rely on diesel to power their means of production.
Also, the dirty fuel shipped to West Africa by Vitol and Trafigura are known to burn very fast equally leading to huge economic losses to vehicle owners in the African sub-region. It is impossible to continue to remain silent about this problem, especially for the short and long term repercussions on the health and economy of our people. And therefore, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, an NGO strong in the areas of anti-corruption, environment, poverty alleviation and good governance, in collaboration with a Swiss NGO the Public Eye, formerly the Berne Declaration, have carried out this campaign against Dirty Fuels in the West African Sub-region with the intention to address the following:
Environmental and health risks like stroke, heart diseases, and chronic respiratory diseases arising from the patronage of dirty fuels from Europe
Bringing to end the illegitimate Swiss Business Model that Must be called to account.
Build the capacity of the media to effectively tackle issues related to dirty fuels, and increase awareness of Nigerians to the health risks of dirty fuels.
Consequently, we therefore call on Federal and State governments, captains of industries, CSOs, religious institutions to:
a) Work closely with the National Assembly, NASS, and help to activate all environmental laws that will check the illegitimate business activities of Vitol and Trafigura, and increase the oversight functions of all regulatory bodies like the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA.
b) Participate in setting up a task force in the sub-region to carry out a massive enlightenment against Dirty Fuel.
c) Collaborate with government and private institutions to bring an end to the risks of diseases like stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases and other health challenges linked to dirty fuel by stopping dirty trade flows from Europe to West Africa.
We enjoin you at this stage to visit our website, www.aneej.org and kindly sign the petition against Dirty Fuels in Nigeria.
Thank you for your kind attention
September, 15, 2016