N100bn CNG Buses: We’ll Correct Innoson’s Exclusion From Presidential Initiative – Petroleum Minister

N100bn CNG Buses: We’ll Correct Innoson’s Exclusion From Presidential Initiative – Petroleum Minister

May 24, (THEWILL)- The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), Ekperikpe Ekpo, has assured that the Federal Government will avoid a repeat of the exclusion of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Ltd (IVM) from the award of contracts for the production of buses as part of the Presidential Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Initiative.

The Minister spoke on Thursday while responding to questions from journalists on the matter during a tour of the existing IVM factory complex in Nnewi, and the multi-billion naira new IVM plant to be opened soon with the capacity to manufacture 30,000 CNG vehicles annually.

An outcry had greeted the announcement of the names of the auto companies tasked with the supply of the CNG buses, which did not include Innoson Vehicles which pioneered the manufacture of autogas vehicles, including buses of varied capacities, about two years ago.

However, describing the exclusion as yesterday’s occurrence that had now receded into the past, the Minister stated: “Today is a different day. I can assure you that we will make a move towards making amends from what happened yesterday to make our person (referring to Dr. Innocent Chukwuma, CON) proud of where he comes from and that he is from Nigeria.”

Ekpo commended the Innoson Group Chairman, Dr. Chukwuma, for investing keenly in the manufacture of CNG vehicles and aligning with President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to using the CNG Initiative to dampen the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy on the masses.

He said the massive production of vehicles that run on CNG by Innoson is giving a boost to the transition from petrol and diesel to gas.

Reacting to the Minister’s assurance, Dr. Chukwuma echoed his belief that the exclusion from the contract awards for the CNG buses by the Presidential Committee should be regarded as a thing of the past while expecting a fairer process in the future.

“Anybody can make a mistake, and you cannot kill that person for making a mistake. Maybe the committee never knew the extent IVM had gone in manufacturing CNG vehicles (since 2022). I am sure that as of today, they are now aware of what we are doing and they will not do such a thing again.

“But it is not compulsory that they use IVM to start the implementation of the CNG Initiative. They can use anybody’s brand to start. But they will later understand the true position of things as time goes on. We are all working together to move the nation forward,” he stated.

The Innoson Chairman also commended the President for the CNG Initiative following the removal of fuel subsidy and for directing government ministries and agencies to key in into the momentum for Nigerians to follow suit.

Chukwuma further stated: “We have confidence in President Tinubu because he knows how to handle any situation. He is an expert and he showed it in Lagos State as governor. So, we still believe he will do it with Nigeria.

“All these things we are doing here are part of our efforts to support him so that the government will be able to make Nigeria great. With all these things we are doing and everybody’s support, the President will surely make Nigeria great. I am building this new CNG factory now and the President is expected to commission it very soon.”

Impressed with what he saw at the plant, including CNG buses in various stages of production and the evidence of huge investments at the new plant dedicated to the production of electric and autogas vehicles (CNG and Liquified Natural Gas, LNG), the Minister remarked that manufacturing activities at IVM were in line with “the aspirations of  Mr. President.”

He said, “I commend the efforts of the Chairman/CEO of IVM, Dr. Chukwuma, for what he is doing. It is in line with the aspiration of Mr. President and I believe that the President will be happy to know that one of his subjects is developing this to catch up with his own focus on the use of CNG.

“Part of Mr. President’s aspiration on the use of CNG is to cut costs in the spending model regarding using petrol in vehicles and switching to CNG, which is clean and easy to maintain like the one I entered (from Anambra airport to the plant in Nnewi).

“The Chairman took me to observe the exhaust pipe and when I saw it, it was very clean and nothing came out of it, and it was in the condition that we will really appreciate. So, I am really happy to see what I am seeing at Innoson and I give him kudos for identifying with the President as he did this morning with his comment on moving ‘from gas to prosperity’.”

Ekpo also commented on patronage, recalling that the President had at a recent Federal Executive Council meeting directed all the ministries and their parastatals to take advantage of the transition from fossil fuel to autogas by buying only CNG vehicles.

Speaking further, Ekpo said: “By the special grace of God, we have a son of Nigeria who is making Nigeria proud in CNG vehicle production. When I return to Abuja, I will brief the President on what I have seen and what I have experienced. It is left to the President to make a decision on the direction to go.

“There is a Presidential Committee on CNG. I will equally collaborate and sit with them and talk about the issue because we are looking at how to cut costs and reduce expenses, which will add value to our country, Nigeria. So, CNG vehicles should be patronised from all angles and I believe the President will support such aspirations.

“Nigerians should patronise Innoson vehicles, especially in the area of the CNG. That is the way to go and we are aware that Mr. President has declared gas as a transitional fuel for Nigeria, and he is very decisive about that decision and we are going to follow it to the latter. So, Nigerians should embrace gas. It is cheaper, cleaner and in line with climate change initiatives.”

One of the highlights of the Minister’s tour was the demonstration of the fire-fighting characteristics of IVM fire trucks and a segment-by-segment display of a wide range of IVM vehicles.

Anthony Awunor

Anthony Awunor, THEWILL

Anthony Awunor, is a business correspondent who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics (UNILAG). He is also an alumnus of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria Kaduna State. He lives in Lagos.


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