Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

To reduce to the barest minimum, attendant health hazards associated with the use of firewood and kerosene stove for household and commercial, the federal government will boost the implementation of her gas policy by making liquefied petroleum gas, otherwise known as cooking gas abundantly available to everyone irrespective of socio-economic status.

This is coming on the heels of a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that “over 98,000 Nigerian women die annually from the use of firewood. “If a woman cooks breakfast, cooks lunch, cooks dinner, it is equivalent to smoking between three and 20 packets of cigarettes a day”, said the body.

The Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Petroleum on Refineries, Downstream and Infrastructures, Brenda Atanga said that government is desirous of making gas available to everybody; the poor and the rich, because it is the cheapest and safest. “Gas is for everyone, it is a matter of perception about the cost of gas,” she said.
Atanga who spoke with journalists at the ‘Upgrade to Gas’ Stakeholders Meeting convened by Africare Nigeria, said the policy plan of the government is to break down gas retail into segments to make sure that people can access gas at their own level.

We want a situation where you can buy 200 or 300 naira worth of gas if that is what you can afford. What we are advocating is the ‘pay as you go’ system of gas purchase as we have in the telecommunications sector where everyone irrespective of age, sex or level of education uses the GSM phone. This will ensure that everyone can afford cooking with gas.”

However, she called for a stricter regulation of gas retailing business, stressing the need for players in gas marketing to comply with regulations laid down by the Department of Petroleum Regulation (DPR) for a safer environment and to curtail gas explosion and fire disasters.

“Government regulation stipulates where gas can be sold and the last man in the chain of sale for gas is the gas refilling plant, which must be certified by the DPR, not gas cylinder retail cubicle on the roadside. It is important that NNPC sends the information to the general public on authorised places they can buy gas. Gas that is sold in refilling plant has been tested by DPR and certified as meeting the Nigerian standard.

“But it is hard to say where the roadside retailers are coming from, they sell LPG the way people sell tyres on the road and that is totally unacceptable.” She said.
Aliyu Mohammed of the DPR, Abuja Office said that government wants to increase the use of gas because of the enormous gas potential that is available in the country and that utilisation of gas will increase revenue and create more employment opportunities.

He said the use of gas is far below average in Africa but hoped that with the awareness initiative of organisations like Africare, usage of gas will be improved and attendant inconveniences of using charcoal or firewood bring such as, inhaling of carbonmonoxide and contamination of the environment will be drastically reduced.

The convener, Dr. Orode Doherty, Country Director, Africare Nigeria said the meeting was to update the stakeholders, who were involved from the very beginning of the project, which started in September 2016 and were involved in the entire process. She said the essence of gathering a whole gamut of stakeholders was to update them, to hear from beneficiaries, the testimony from them and to have an understanding of how Africare have come about the project and what is the next steps.

“We started the project in September 2016; we found out that there is 20 percent increase in the number of people who consider that LPG is affordable for them. This is important because at the beginning many households do not believe that they could afford LPG. We had a conversation with them and educated them on the health implication of each of the cooking alternatives, especially the effects of the cooking stove and firewood on their health, the health of their children, their environment and their general wellbeing.”