The hypocrisy of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government came to the front burner recently, when the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, in a desperate attempt to douse anxiety over increasing the pump price of petrol, promised Nigerians that the government had in the pipeline a measure to convert Nigerian cars to Compressed Natural Gas, CNG, as an alternative to petrol.
The Minister went further to say that the conversion from petrol to gas, will be done for free for all car owners, as the government will bear the cost.
For me that is good news! But talk is cheap, Walking the talking is where the problem lies.
The Minister put the cost of converting a car to dual fuel use capacity at N200,000, but those conversant with the technicality of it say the kit would cost between N300,000 and N420,000.
Here lies the hypocrisy of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
How can a government which claims to be unable to sustain subsidy on petrol, because of the fall in revenue, due to the global pandemic, offer to spend so much on the estimated 12.5 million cars on Nigerian roads?
I could recall, that as at 2018, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, NBS, estimated the total number of vehicles in the country at about 11.7 million. Fast forward to 2020, the number of cars is estimated to be above 12.5 million. So, how does the government which is still struggling to pay the N30,000 minimum wage, muster the financial muscle to spend about N420,000 on each car, numbering about 12.5 million in total?
The worst part of it is that the cost of this conversion is not even captured in the 2020 annual budget.
Where will the money come from? Can the government bear the cost, or is it an avenue to play the ostrich?
It is expected that Nigeria’s policy on fuel for cars should be in line with this global trend in which long-term strategies are put in place with timeline, instead of a sudden haphazard decision that cars would be converted to dual-fuel usage, in less than one month.
I rest my case!