The meeting between the Federal Government and the Labour unions has proposed alternatives to the use of petrol by Nigerians as a way to cushion the effect of subsidy removal on petrol.
Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, disclosed this at the end of their meeting in Abuja on Monday.
The removal of subsidies by the government has been a front-burner issue in the county for many years, and it’s the last among oil products that still enjoy such benefits.
It was part of the campaign points of several presidential candidates during the 2023 general elections and President Bola Tinubu announced on his May 29 inauguration day that there was no allocation for it in the 2023 budget beyond July.
Gbajabiamila, who led the government delegation at the meeting, said that the alternatives include the adoption of the use of Compressed Natural Gas, CNG, and the review of the inclusion of low-income earners in the World Bank Financed Cash Transfer scheme.
The two parties said that the cost and efficiency of the CNG would bring a better and long-lasting solution to the constant fluctuation in the price of petrol in the world market.
The CNG is the cleanest burning fuel operating today and brings about less vehicle maintenance and longer engine life.
It produces fewer emissions and can save drivers money on fuel costs as well as improve the energy security of the county.
However, there are some disadvantages to using CNG as a vehicle fuel, including limited range, limited fuelling infrastructure, high upfront costs, and safety concerns.
CNG vehicles operate much like gasoline-powered vehicles with spark-ignited internal combustion engines and the gas is stored in a fuel tank or cylinder, typically at the back of the vehicle.
The Nigerian government proposed the use of CNG as an automotive fuel in 1997 as part of the initiatives to harness natural gas resources, but progress has been slow.
Following Nigeria’s gas reserves, currently estimated at 182 TCF (trillion cubic feet) with a projected growth rate of over 70 per cent by 2025, the nation’s gas sector has proven to have the potential of being a key player in the emergent global natural gas market.
The other alternative agreed upon at the meeting is the inclusion of low-income earners in the World Bank-financed cash transfer scheme aimed at reducing poverty in the country.
A World Bank report shows that the conditional cash transfer programme aims to reduce poverty by making welfare programmes conditional based on the receivers’ actions; the government only transfers the money to persons who meet certain criteria.
The Federal Government and labour unions’ engagement also decided to allow for dialogue among stakeholders in the oil and gas sector between now and June 19 to work out an implementation framework for all resolutions reached.
The seven resolutions are: “The Federal Government, the TUC and the NLC to establish a joint committee to review the proposal for any wage increase or award and establish a framework and timeline for implementation.
“The Federal Government, the TUC and the NLC to review the World Bank Financed Cash transfer scheme and propose inclusion of low-income earners in the programme.
“The Federal Government, the TUC and the NLC to revive the CNG conversion programme earlier agreed with Labour centres in 2021 and work out detailed implementation and timing.
“The Labour centres and the Federal Government to review issues hindering effective delivery in the education sector and propose solutions for implementation.
“The Labour centres and the Federal Government to review and establish the framework for completion of the rehabilitation of the nation’s refineries.
“The Federal Government provides a framework for the maintenance of roads and expansion of rail networks across the country.
“All other demands submitted by the TUC to the Federal Government will be assessed by the joint committee.”