Address by Engr. Robinson I. Ejilah on the occasion of First National Autogas Technicians Training and Certification Programme

National Chairman, Dr. Robinson Ejilah

Welcome Address by Engr. Robinson I. Ejilah, PhD, CEng, FNIMechE, The Chairman, AVM-AUTOLADY Autogas Technology Education and Research Advisory Board on the occasion of its First National Autogas Technicians Training and Certification Programme on Tuesday, 9th November, 2021 at the National Engineering Centre, CBD, Abuja.

Protocols.
It is my pleasure and honor to welcome you all to the opening ceremony of the First National Autogas Technicians Training and Certification Programme as a home-grown private sector initiative organized by AVM- AutoLady Engineering Technology Limited, and EuroLPG, Netherlands.

As you are already aware, Nigeria is a gas province is ranked the 9th in the world with a proven gas reserve of over 200 trillion cubic feet. To deploy for this use this valued energy resource, In December, 2020, the Federal Government rolled out a robust National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP). The programme is aimed at encouraging domestic usage of natural gas in its various forms as the first-choice source for cheaper and cleaner energy.

This very timely event is coming as the first privatesector driven initiative to compliment the Federal Government efforts to fast track the socio-economic transformation of our dear nation to deliver at least one million vehicle conversions by the end of 2021; to encourage human capacity development nationwide; create two million jobs annually for the country; and drive sustainable economic growth with natural gas as a key enabler to the nations economic development and diversification through adequate power generation, provision of feedstock for value-adding manufacturing, and increased government revenue from LNG.

You may wish to agree with me that the two biggest issues confronting humanity at the moment, is COVID 19 and Climate Change. It is not in doubt that COVID 19 shook the very foundation of the global economy sending economic shock waves across nations and causing recessions with a consequence on job losses and poverty especially in more vulnerable countries, – and Nigeria was not an exception!

According to NBS, 2021, Nigerias jobless rate has more than quadrupled over the last five years as the economy went through two recessions- and one induced and exacerbated by COVID 19, with a consequence on more job losses and poverty, thus creating concerns over the efforts to implement policies to drive growth and create jobs by the present governments administration.

On the other hand, it is no news anymore that greenhouse gases; such as; CO2, CH4, CFC, HCFC are culprits for the earths warming. it was observed that CO2 emission levels in Nigeria increased by 67.2%, from 20 billion metric tons to 36.44 billion metric tons in 2019, and the metrics are likely to be higher today. A good proportion of the greenhouse gases released during this period, emanated from the transportation, energy and manufacturing sector of the economy. These sectors at the moment, are largely fossil fuel-driven with the attendant consequences of higher CO2 emissions. Hence, the adoption of natural gas is consistent with the Nigerias gas penetration for energy ambition will reduce CO2 emission by more than 30% and make realizable the nations ambition to achieve SDG 7 by 2030 through the following developmental milestones by: deploying micro distribution centers to 1 million household to replace kerosene stoves and firewood; converting about 30 million homes from dirty fuels to gas and biogas; achieving emission reduction in greenhouse gas by switching from dirty fuel to gas-driven captive power generation; and switching automobiles from dirty liquid hydrocarbon fuel to auto gas in 2027 all as part of Nigerias decarbonisation plan consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement and, seeking to; limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, and achieve a global carbon neutrality standard by 2030.

Looking at it from the gender prism on another hand, the 2015 Statistical Report of Women and Men in Nigeria, observed that the labour force participation rate (LFPR) of women was 6.3% lower than men, and this points to the fact, that more men are engaged in productive labour than women on a national average. The preponderance of male labour force is even more pronounced and outpacing in the engineering, science and technology-related sectors and disciplines, in spite of our national commitment to women empowerment, and equal participation in all spheres of life to; promote gender equality, inclusivity, and reduce inequality for the realization of SDGs 5 and 10. So for this reason, there is need to aggressively mainstream gender participation in this training programme by assigning out 60% of the prospective training slots to younger women.
Hence, the idea of the “National AutoGas Technicians Training as Certification Programme was conceived to; address the key issue of skill shortages by up-skilling automobile technicians to convert or retrofit diesel and gasoline automobile engines into LPG engines with the aim of; reducing poverty and providing solutions and building critical technical capacities to provide useful services and grow the nations GDP through available opportunities in the value chains created by the Nigerian Gas Programme. While this programme intends to achieve these objectives on one hand, it also seeks to encourage the decarbonization of the Nigerian economy, and promote gender inclusion and participation in the hitherto male-dominated energy and transportation sectors.

This Train –the- Trainer Scheme, is a private pilot program designed to fast- track the implementation of the National Gas Expansion Programme. It is designed to train, equip and deploy a minimum of 10,000 Autogas and Mechatronics technician in Nigeria annually to up-skill their technical proficiencies in; Autogas Vehicle Conversion Aptitude, Automotive Diagnostic System Technology, and Preventive Autogas Vehicle Maintenance and Detailing respectively, and it could not have been possible without the support of our committed partnering organizations; Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian Women for Gas and Green Initiative, and National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), our Technical Partner EuroLPG Group Nethalands, Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers (NIMechE), and Automotive Engineering Institution of Nigeria (AutoEI), and other critical stakeholders in the sector.

I would like to mention that we are indeed fortunate and very grateful to have the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, H.E Timipre Sylva create time to grace this event with his dignifying presence today, in spite of his very busy national assignment and competing work schedules. We are indeed grateful to the federal government of Nigeria for the very robust National Gas programme, and available opportunities in value chains to create employment, encourage private sector participation, and grow the nations economy.

We are looking forward to a keynote from Mr. Jelani Aliyu, MFR . We want to thank him for accepting to set the tone of our training. As the DG, NADDC, he bears the enormous responsibility of crafting and implementing the automotive policy for Nigeria, he will have so much to offer by sharing his thoughts and perspectives on the abounding opportunities for auto gas conversion in the road transportation sub-sector. As Nigeria is committed to get to net-zero by 2060, we really appreciate your giant strides in decarbonizing the automobile subsector of the national economy.

I want to also warmly welcome and thank our very distinguished guest speakers, His Excellency, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, FNIMechE, FNSE, the Executive Governors of Nassarawa State, and His Excellency, Alh. Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, and His Excellency, Most Distinguished Senator James Manager, Senate Committee Chairman of Gas. We are eagerly looking forward to their very insightful remarks on the Nigerian gas programme as our guest speakers.

Our gratitude also goes to Hajiya Maryam Salihu Ibrahim, Chairperson, Nigerian Women for Gas and Green Initiative- an organization committed to spreading awareness and supporting actions of Nigerian women as important stakeholders of the Nigerian Gas project by: informing and communicating, engaging women groups with other stakeholders to facilitate meaningful participation, networking and co-creation of actions; supporting, promoting women mobilization and participation in the Nigerian gas sector through citizen dialogue and assemblies to create a sense of co-ownership and buying-in of women into the NGEP. Madam, we are indeed thankful you for the fantastic work you are doing.

We thank our partners and other stakeholders in the technical space. We are indeed grateful for your untiring support and encouragement in our collective efforts to grow the profession and expand the practice of engineering in Nigeria. The COREN President, Engr. Rabiu Ali, FNSE; the President, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Engr. Babagana Mohammed, FNSE, National Chairmen/Presidents of Professional Engineering Institutions, APWEN, MOTAN present here.
I wish to also welcome and express my profound gratitude to our special personalities and guests, and wish you all a very exciting and fulfilled flagging-of ceremony.
Thank you all for your time and attention.

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