By Uche Usim, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday urged Nigerians to embrace gas as a cleaner and cheaper alternative to petrol.
Speaking at a virtually held event at the State House to unveil the National Gas Expansion Programme and National Autogas Roll-out Initiative, President Buhari said Nigeria was blessed with huge gas resources which have hitherto been used sub-optimally due to insufficient gas processing facilities and infrastructural connectivity for effective and optimal domestic utilisation.
He hailed Nigerians for their patience, and the organised labour for its maturity and patriotism as Nigeria trudges on despite prevalent challenges.
‘It is no longer news that the vast Natural Gas resources, which Nigeria is endowed with “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,’ he said.
The President added that the deregulation of the downstream sector had exposed many to price volatilities in the global market, urging attention to more affordable alternative for energy, especially with Nigeria’s heavy reserve.
‘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.’
The President said the auto-gas initiative will lead to increased domestic gas utilisation and enrich the trajectory of national economic growth and development, adding: ‘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 the support that will ease the transportation challenges Nigerians are facing at this time.’
In his remarks at the event, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva said the Ministry was focusing on the development of skills, technology and manpower as well as growth in the utilisation of LPG, CNG and LNG.
He added that 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 GDP.’
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kolo Kyari disclosed that from 2016 to 2019, the Federal Government had spent over N3 trillion subsidising the pump price of petroleum products, particularly petrol, insisting that the subsidy regime did not benefit the masses that the President is passionate about.
He added that the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have made it impossible to continue with the onerous subsidy regime.
The high point of the event was the dispensing of autogas to some buses and other vehicles.