Tinubu’s big bets on gas, by Abdulaziz Abdulaziz



Three distinct events in the course of last week all point to the unmistakable direction of the Tinubu administration in putting Nigeria on a firm and sustainable energy path.

First was the order that government ministries and agencies must prioritise vehicles powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in their procurement. The second was the commissioning by the President of three important gas projects through a virtual ceremony on Wednesday. The third in chronology was the announcement of the mass deployment of 530 CNG-powered buses nationwide followed by a heartwarming inspection tour by a Federal Government team to a company taking the lead in provision of CNG vehicles in Nigeria. We take them one at time.

At the Federal Executive Council meeting on Monday a bold decision of the government to cease purchase of petrol-powered vehicles was announced. It was a move championed by no other person than President Bola Ahmed Tinubu himself. In considering a council memo for the proposed purchase of 200 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles for use by the Nigerian Customs Service, the President made a deft move by drafting in his vision for Nigeria’s energy future into the prey. At the end the council agreed that it should be a policy that henceforth government money should not be used to purchase petrol-only vehicles.

The policy has far-reaching implications. With 209.5 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserve, Nigeria ranks 9th in the world among gas-rich countries. Yet, the country is still far away from full utilization of this abundant natural resource for both domestic use and export. Since his coming, President Tinubu has shown his eagerness to change the Nigeria’s energy story using the potentials of our gas deposits.

In driving the point to members of his cabinet, the President noted that Nigeria “will not progress if we continue to dance on the same spot. We have the will to drive the implementation of CNG adoption across the country, and we must set the example as public officials leading the way to that prosperous future that we are working to achieve for our people. It starts with us, and seeing that we are serious Nigerians will follow our lead.”

As if it were a planned sequel to that powerful statement, two days later, the President launched three salient gas projects with collective capacity to generate $500 million for Nigeria in the next 10 years.

The three milestone projects were the expanded AHL Gas Processing Plant; the ANOH Gas Processing Plant, and the 23.3km ANOH to Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben (OB3) Custody Transfer Metering Station Gas Pipeline.

Speaking during the virtual inauguration of the projects at the State House, President Tinubu assured citizens that his administration is stepping up its coordination of other landmark projects and initiatives that will ensure the earliest realization of gas-fueled prosperity for Nigeria.

The President noted that the projects are fully in line with the Decade of Gas Initiative and his government’s vision to grow value from the nation’s abundant gas assets while concurrently eliminating gas flaring and accelerating industrialization.

“This event is highly significant to our country as it demonstrates the administration’s concerted efforts to accelerate the development of critical gas infrastructure geared at significantly enhancing the supply of energy to boost industrial growth and create employment opportunities.

“It is pleasing that when these projects become fully operational, approximately 500MMscf of gas in aggregate will be supplied to the domestic market from these two gas processing plants, which represents over 25% incremental growth in gas supply,” the President said in his remarks.

The new projects are purposed to bolster more gas to the power-generating sector, gas-based industries, and other critical segments of the economy which would build into the government’s bid to leverage the nation’s vast gas capacity to drive economic growth.

The president was, expectedly full of praises for the NNPC Ltd under the workaholic GCEO, Malam Mele Kyari, and its partners for heeding to the clarion call to ramp up efforts to accelerate investment and developments of projects in the gas sector on a win-win basis.

For President Tinubu the goals are clear: The government is ready to partner private sector in deepening domestic gas utilization, increase national power generation capacity, revitalize industries, and create multiple job opportunities for economic growth.

At another part of the country on the same day, excited transport sector stakeholders were taken through the government’s agenda for CNG vehicles and the torrents of incentives targeted at investors in the new energy vista.

The event was a stakeholders engagement for the South West region organized by the Presidential Compressed Natural Gas Initiative (P-CNGi). It was a follow up to the major event held with stakeholders in Abuja to secure their buy in for the government’s vision for the cheaper and cleaner transport sector.

Launched last year, the P-NGi aims to midwife transition into gas-powered transportation in Nigeria. Aside working with private sector players to widen gas infrastructure nationwide, the programme has facilitated opening conversion centres and placed order for hundreds of buses for mass transport on campuses and cities to pilot this new energy source. Michael Oluwagbemi, P-CNGi project director said 530 of those buses would soon be rolled out on our roads.

Encouraged by the government’s desire to develop the CNG ecosystem a number of businesses such as NIPCO, Matrix, BOVAS, Mikano, JET and Innoson are making huge investments in making available the CNG infrastructure and flooding the market with CNG-powered vehicles. On the trip to Lagos, the Federal Government delegation had tour of Mikano plant along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway where the company is assembling assortment of vehicles with a new focus on CNG compatibility. From what we saw at the Mikano plant and the explanation by its chairman, Mr Mofid Karameh, as well as comments from stakeholders at the Wednesday gathering in Lagos, the bright future for the CNG in Nigeria is clear.

As a bon mort, it is important to stress that President Tinubu’s vision of utilisation of Nigerian immense gas resources is not new. As someone familiar with the energy market, the President has been a front line advocate for exploring our gas resources for cheaper and cleaner energy. His goal is to hasten domestic utilisation and quicken its export to fertile Europe gas market. He had said it as a candidate and has reiterated it again and again since coming to office. Thankfully, the President is not one given to lip service to issues he feels strongly about. These latest steps, among others, have given unambiguous expression of his political will to save Nigeria and Nigerians from perpetual energy crisis and boost prosperity.

Mr Abdulaziz is a senior special assistant to President Tinubu.

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