The cost of goods and services are skyrocketing. The pump price of petrol is high. The naira is taking a pounding on the international scene. Nigeria is experiencing its worst inflation in over three decades.
Things are hard. Wages have stagnated.
And President Muhammadu Buhari understands and appreciates the patience of Nigerians over the current cloud of economic hardship, presidency spokesperson Femi Adesina said in a statement on Tuesday.
“President Buhari appreciated Nigerians and Organized Labour for restraint, understanding and patience as the country tackles myriad economic challenges, assuring that the Federal Government is working hard to ameliorate the situation,” the statement read.
“Let me now express my deep appreciation to Nigerians for their patience, and Organized Labour for its maturity and patriotism as we collectively navigate these global economic and other challenges,” Adesina quoted the president as saying at the virtual unveiling of the National Gas Expansion Programme and National Auto-gas Roll-out Initiative.
At the event, the Buhari urged Nigerians to embrace the use of gas as an alternative to fuel. With the initiative, Nigerians can now power capable cars with natural gas, not just petrol.
“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 utilization.
“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 utilization is apparent.’’
President Buhari said 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 utilization 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 Organized Labour as part of our government’s pledge to continue providing 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 Timipre Sylva said the Ministry is focusing on 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 utilization 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 NNPC, Mele Kolo Kyari informed that from 2016 to 2019, the Federal Government had spent over three trillion Naira subsidizing the pump price of petroleum products particularly PMS, 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.