The N250 billion National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) cash has lain inactive in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the past four years due to the strict requirements, according to Dr Mohammed Ibrahim, Chairman of the NGEP.
He said this in Lagos at the Nigeria Auto Journalists Association (NAJA)’s annual training workshop, which had the theme “Fuel Subsidy Removal: Autogas/Electric Vehicles as Alternatives.”
The money was meant to assist Nigerian companies involved in the gas value chain, especially the conversion of internal combustible engine (ICE) vehicles into autogas as part of the government’s drive to deepen autogas penetration.
The NGEP was conceived to serve as a catalyst for adding value to the vast natural gas reserves Nigeria is endowed with and one of the low hanging fruits being explored by the team is the autogas where over 30m vehicles have been identified for conversion.
Ibrahim stated that the federal government had certified 9,000 out of the existing 10,000 filling stations as fit for co-location of autogas fuel.
The autogas initiative would create over 12m jobs as there are about 5m conversion kits to be imported for the initiative.
According to him, the N250bn was set aside to assist those importing kits and related products but nobody has been able to access it because of the stringent conditions attached to it.
He said, “We have a N250bn National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) fund domiciled in the Central Bank, so that if you want to import conversion kits or if you want to import related products, you can access this fund.
“We are trying to review that fund because the immediate past CBN governor when the fund was made available, we went to him. We said, ‘Mr. Godwin Emefiele, you are not an expert in this business, We are experts and we can tell you the kind of products you can make available and the funds you can make available. So the conditions you attach to the funds are so stringent that nobody would be able to access the funds and he didn’t listen to us.’
“Of course, nobody took it. So, we are hoping that now that we have a new minister of state in charge of gas who just assumed office and we believe that the government now is responsive to know that you do not make intervention funds for rice cultivation the same condition for CNG. It simply does not work. You cannot make the same intervention funds for fertiliser as you do for textile, it doesn’t work. So you have to have different products for different sectors. “
He said globally, autogas as a fuel of choice for the mobility sector has risen by over 40% as it powers the largest number of vehicles running on alternative fuels.
He said the sad reality is that the moment autogas fully takes off, many petrol stations might have to close down because a gas-powered truck or vehicle can drive for 2000km without refueling.
“Correspondingly a number of retail outlets would have to look for other jobs. It is very sad but it is reality,” he said.