By DAPO OLAWUNI
Human Right lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN has accused the Federal Government of abandoning it’s plan to convert 200, 000 vehicles from using petrol to compressed natural gas (CNG) usage due to pressure from petroleum marketers.
Federal Government in 2021 declared that it has set aside N250 billion for willing investors in autogas assembly plants in the country.
Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva explained that the decision to make the money available as a result of the huge amount spent by the government on fuel subsidy, adding that it was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to adopt gas as an alternative fuel for the country.
Silver also said the Government plans to work with marketers to convert 200, 000 vehicles from using petrol to compressed natural gas (CNG) usage.
However, speaking on Tuesday at the National Delegate Conference of the Nigerian Labor Congress NLC in Abuja, Falana accused the federal government of abandoning the idea.
Speaking, the human right activist said “On January 15th 2022, this government announced that we are migrating from PMS to CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) which we have in abundance, and it is cheaper, more eco-friendly than PMS.
“This regime allocated N250billion for conversion of vehicles from PMS to CNG.
However, the importers of fuel has asked the government to shelve the idea and the government has abandoned it.
I am challenging the NLC and TUC to go back to the project”
“In many African countries like Cote D’Ivoire without oil and gas, there are not less than 10,000 vehicles on CNG.
In Nigeria today, there are companies that are engaged in the conversion of PMS run vehicles to CNG.
In Benin area alone, according to the government, not less than 10,000 vehicles have been converted.
“We are therefore suggesting to the federal government to embrace the alternative to PMS so that Nigerian people can take benefit of the huge sum spent annually on the importation of fuel.
“Subsidy is a scam, but since we are spending so much on fixing our refineries, the question of abandoning our people does not arise”
Falana argued that under the petroleum industry Act, the government has responsibility to control the price of the products.
He said “We are calling on the government not to abandon it’s duties to market forces, market forces are a fraud, they are manipulative, it is human being that determine the prices of the product”
In September 2022, while receiving the report on the Adoption of the CNG-based transportation systems in Nigerian urban cities, the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adewole Adegoroye assured that the report would be given prompt attention.
The report was sponsored by World Bank and done by Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), through the Federal Ministry of Environment with highlights on strategic steps to take in the adoption of CNG vehicles in the transportation sector in the country.