Former chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr Sam Amadi, has reacted to the Federal Government’s declaration of plans to deploy cheaper and safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses across the country to ease transportation costs amid high price of petrol due to subsidy removal on the commodity.
Since the removal of subsidies on petrol at the inception of President Bola Tinubu’s administration four months ago, there have been discussions around measures to mitigate the impact on citizen, with one of them being the deployment of CNG vehicles perceived to be cost effective when compared to price of fuel.
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During his 63rd Independent Day address on Sunday, October 1, President Tinubu announced that part of the plans of his administration is to deploy CNG buses that will operate at a fraction of current fuel prices, positively affecting transport fares.
The President had further stated that the government would establish CNG training facilities and workshops across the nation to train and provide new opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs.
“New CNG conversions kits will start coming in very soon as all hands are on deck to fast track the usually lengthy procurement process. We are also setting up training facilities and workshops across the nation to train and provide new opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs. This is a groundbreaking moment where, as a nation, we embrace more efficient means to power our economy. In making this change, we also make history,” President Tinubu had stated in his Independence Day address.
In the Memorandum of Agreement reached between labour unions and the Federal Government, on Monday evening that led to suspension of the nationwide strike for 30 days, the Federal Government accepted to raise N100 billion for the provision of high capacity CNG buses for mass transit in Nigeria, adding that efforts are “also being made for initial 55,000 CNG conversion kits to kick start an auto gas conversion programme, whilst work is ongoing on state-of-the-art CNG stations nationwide.”
The government also plans to commence rollout by November with pilots across 10 campuses nationwide.
In an interview on Arise News Morning Show on Tuesday, Dr Amadi said that despite the assurances of deploying CNG vehicle, he has strong feelings based on situation on the ground that the government is not ready for the deployment across the country as the stated by president.
The foremost development scholar said the government is not ready because the N100 billion promised for the importation and running of CNG-powered buses, are out of the budget.
He observed that some of the agreements reached including CNG deployment do not have a tangible timeline and that incidentally, does not give Labour control In terms of taking any actionable measure by way of court if the government appears not forthcoming with implementation.
He urged Labour to take more politically strategic steps in their demands rather than banking on strikes as their only weapon of bargain.
“They should take note of the shift in the political economy and retool their strategies, and so don’t depend on disruptive strikes that have bad optics, but other strategies that help you to control the behavior of those in public office.”
Amadi faulted one of the agreements that Labour would join a joint team including delegates from the government to go and inspect refineries. According to him, Labour should not involve itself in a committee where it becomes compromised and later become part of the failure of the system.
“I think it’s a smart strategy that government uses to get Labour into the so called committee to work together and Labour will be stopped from coming back and saying it didn’t work,” when they were part of the process.
“I think Labour needs to go back to the drawing board and refocus its strategy knowing that this is now a politics that is so toxic and full of manipulation when you are dealing with public officials who are more concerned about overcoming a political hurdle than overcoming the real challenge.”