Without govt intervention, implementation of CNG vechicles policy may fail- Babachir Lawal

By Innocent Raphael

Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr. Babachir Lawal, has expressed doubts about the viability of implementing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles in Nigeria without substantial government intervention.

In an interview on Trust TV’s Daily Politics programme, Lawal emphasized that the success of CNG vehicles hinges on the government establishing the necessary infrastructure, warning of potential failures if this is not done.

Lawal’s comments follow President Bola Tinubu’s directive for Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to transition their petrol- or diesel-powered vehicles and generators to CNG.

This directive, aimed at enhancing energy security and reducing fuel costs, was announced by Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale.

Also, the government plans to unveil CNG-powered buses on May 29, 2024, to mark the administration’s one-year anniversary.

However, Lawal criticized the sustainability of this initiative, suggesting that it might become a channel for government officials to misuse resources. He stressed the need for gas stations nationwide, particularly along highways, to support the CNG vehicles.

“They will display for who? The last time they gave money to the governors to buy buses, they called it palliatives, isn’t it? I’ve seen one bus in my state, in Adamawa. I’ve seen one bus plying my Mubi-Yola. I took note of the number. I saw one; I’ve not seen any other one,” Lawal remarked, questioning the logic behind some government initiatives.

He recounted his own challenges with fuel costs, noting, “I spent about 75 litres of diesel on my farm. Yesterday I bought two drums of diesel for N700,000, which lasts for one week if I’m lucky. When I complained, he said, ‘convert your tractors to CNG’.

” I’m an engineer, so I asked, where in Adamawa will I get the gas? Where will I get it if I’m going to Abuja and run out of gas?”

Lawal argued that the government’s approach is flawed, stating, “Typical government. They talk, they talk grammar, and they leave out the implementation. Let’s see the filling stations first. Let them be all over the place. He (Tinubu) is putting the cart before the horse. Let’s see the infrastructure for refilling the gas.”

Lawal concluded by highlighting the practicality issues, “If I go buy a car or convert my car to CNG, and maybe run out of gas on my way, what do I do? Park the car and come back to Abuja with the cylinder on my head. So, there must be filling stations along the road,” he stated.

Lawal’s remarks underscore significant concerns about the practical implementation of CNG vehicles in Nigeria, pointing to the critical need for comprehensive infrastructure to support this transition.

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