Buhari Launches Auto-gas, Says Initiative Will Cushion Pains of Deregulation

  • Orders Sylva to hand over transit buses to NLC
  • NNPC says N3tr spent on subsidy in three years

By Omololu Ogunmade

President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Abuja launched National Auto-gas Roll-out Initiative, saying it would cushion the harsh economic effects of deregulation.
Tagged National Gas Expansion Programme and National Auto-gas Roll-out Initiative, the initiative, launched virtually, was conceived to convert fuel consumption by automobiles to gas.

Speaking at the launch in the State House, Buhari appreciated Nigerians and the organised labour for showing restraint, understanding and patience so far in the face of myriad of economic challenges.
The president also instructed the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, to put in place the machinery for handing over mass transit buses to the organised labour in fulfilment of federal government’s pledge for continuous support towards efforts aimed at easing transportation challenges currently confronting Nigerians.
This came as the the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kolo Kyari, told the meeting that between 2016 and 2019, the federal government had spent over N3 trillion to subsidise petrol.
A statement by the president’s media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the president assured the country of federal government’s commitment to address the situation.
“Let me now express my deep appreciation to Nigerians for their patience, and organised labour for its maturity and patriotism as we collectively navigate these global economic and other challenges,’’ the president said.

Imploring Nigerians to embrace the use of gas as an alternative to fuel, Buhari said despite Nigeria’s endowment with natural gas resources, the product has not been used optimally.

“It is no longer news that the vast natural gas resources, which Nigeria is endowed with has hitherto been used sub-optimally as a result of a dearth of gas processing facilities and infrastructural connectivity for effective and optimal domestic utilisation,” he added.
According to him, the expansion of Nigeria’s level of domestic natural gas has become imperative in view of the country’s proven reserve of about 203 trillion cubic feet (TCF) and additional 600 TCF, which he said earned the country the ninth place in world ranking.
He said: ‘”As I mentioned above, with a proven reserve of about 203 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF) and additional upside of 600 TCF ranking Nigeria as the 9th in the world currently, the need for domestic gas expansion and utilisation is apparent.’’

Buhari acknowledged that the deregulation of downstream petroleum sector had exposed many to price volatilities in the global market.
He canvassed devotion of attention to more affordable alternative to energy, especially with Nigeria’s heavy reserve, saying the current economic crisis makes reverting to gas utilisation timely.

“Therefore, the roll-out of the National Gas Expansion Programme, Auto-gas initiative is coming at the right time, especially in light of global crude oil market fluctuations coupled with the full deregulation of the local PMS market.

“These developments have made it imperative to focus on gas as an alternative fuel to move Nigeria from the conventional dependence on white products for autos and prime-movers of industrial applications, to cleaner, more available, accessible and affordable energy source.

“The outcome will not only cushion the effect of the downstream deregulation that this government has to painfully implement, but also create new markets and enormous job opportunities for our people,” he added.

Buhari also said the auto-gas initiative would result in increased domestic gas utilisation and enrichment of the trajectory of national economic growth and development.
He advised Nigerians to embrace the initiative, disclosing his directive to the petroleum minister to commence the process of delivering mass transit buses to the organised labour to cushion the effects of economic hardship.
He added: “I therefore encourage everyone to embrace gas in form of LPG, CNG and LNG as an alternative fuel for autos and other prime-movers.’’

“The Minister of State Petroleum Resources is hereby directed to commence the process of hand over of mass transit buses to Organised labour as part of our government’s pledge to continue providing support that will ease the transportation challenges Nigerians are facing at this time.’’

According to the statement, Sylva in his remarks, said the petroleum ministry was focusing on skill development, technology and manpower as well as growth in the utilisation of LPG, CNG and LNG.

He said the national gas expansion programme which was initiated this year to boost the utilisation of gas in the short and medium term “is expected to create two million jobs per annum, promote skills acquisition and enhance technology transfer in addition to growing the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).”

It also said the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kolo Kyari, told the meeting that between 2016 and 2019, the federal government had spent over N3 trillion to subsidise the pump price of petroleum products particularly petrol.
He claimed that the subsidy regime was not beneficial to the masses, whom he said the president is passionate about.

He said the economic effects of COVID-19 had made the sustenance of subsidy regime impossible.