CNG Delegate

The Acting Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission(NUC), Mr. Chris J. Maiyaki, has said the Commission would do everything within its mandate to support the efforts of Buck Stalker Engineering Limited, an Auto-mobile Assembly and dealership company to supply cheap and cost-effective Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Electric- designed engine buses to Tertiary Institutions aimed at ameliorating the impact of the subsidy removal on students, parents and guardians in and around cities where universities are located.

He stated this last Thursday when the Commission played host to top  officials of the Auto-mobile Assembly and dealership company which came to follow up on a proposal it sent to the Commission seeking to supply Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Electric- designed engine buses to Tertiary Institutions. He said supporting the initiative was appropriate and in line with the Presidential Initiative on purchasing of CNG powered vehicles even for its Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to reduce the impact of the removal of fuel subsidy which weighed heavily on the citizens, particularly, the vulnerable populace, among them the students of higher institutions in the country.

According to him, the subsidy removal has signaled the emergence of a new era where Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and gasoline had become too expensive and no longer cost-effective to power buses for mass movement of students in and around the campuses.

Mr. Maiyaki asserted that the Commission was the gate-way to the Nigerian University System (NUS), stating that the NUC currently supervised the activities of 274 universities comprising 62 Federal, 63 State and 149 Private universities and still counting. He argued that despite the current number, there was still a huge gap between demand and supply as the number of students seeking admission into tertiary institutions continue to increase astronomically in the country. “Therefore, the onus is on us to ensure that we bridge the gap by increasing access to university education,” he said.

The Acting Executive Secretary, highlighted that some states had more than one university with one or two campuses within the state, adding that the removal of subsidy on PMS and gas had occasioned an unprecedented increase in transport fare which had in turn affected the movement of students who possibly relied on commercial buses for movement from one campus to another.

He stressed that the proposal submitted by Messrs Buck Stalker Engineering Limited to supply CNG/Electric-designed engine buses to Tertiary Institutions was a laudable gesture that was worth the attention of the Commission. He added that upon receiving the proposal, the Commission had engaged the services of experts to analyse and give more insights as to its benefit to students and the entire university communities, a position that has enjoyed the endorsement of an expert and renowned Professor of transport planning and policy, Professor Adewumi Samuel.

Mr. Maiyaki urged the management of the Company to ensure that all relevant stakeholders, both in the Ministry of Transportation and the Presidential Committee were carried along in its quest to provide a cheaper alternative to PMS or Gas-powered buses, while the Commission would provide the necessary platform to bring the proposal to fruition.

The Consultant and Expert, Professor Samuel G. Adewumi, a foremost Professor of Transportation at the Lagos State University (LASU), in his remarks, noted that the nation’s quest to cushion the effect of the post-subsidy removal regime had been through a hybrid approach as the Nigerian government was exploring every possible means to stabilize the adverse effect of the subsidy removal on the Nigerian economy. A major pathway identified as a positive changer was the utilization of alternative energy resources (Gas and Solar) which the country was abundantly endowed with.

He stressed that to engineer the application of alternative resources to curtail the rise in the prices of goods and services (inflation), the transportation sector was factored as a key variable associated with inflation cutting across all sectors of the economy, especially, in the education sector.

He added that, as a solution provider, Buck Stalker Engineering Limited proposed, through the NUC, to provide a comprehensive and cost-efficient transportation and auto-mechanic services to reduce the pressure of transportation fares on students, parents, and guardians. The Professor of transport planning informed his host that the auto-mobile engineering company was an indigenous company registered under the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and had been working in collaborations with auto-mobile manufacturing giant, Sogou Motors of South Korea, and also has affiliation with Liaoning Haunghai Auto-mobile of China.

He noted that Buck Stalker has proposed to supply CNG- designed and air-conditioned engine Mass Transit Buses, Tricycle, Minibuses, Trucks, Ambulances and Kiosk for effective and seamless transportation of students in Nigerian tertiary institutions and Universities. The Mass Transit Buses (MTB) were intended to operate both intra-campus services and shuttling between hostels and cities. Professor Adewumi explained that the proposed category of buses was designed for fuel efficiency and durability- GREEN ENERGY. Beside the fact that they are electric motorized vehicles, they are adaptable and convertible to either Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) or Gas, pointing out that the company finds it appropriate to propose the supply of Mass Transit Buses through the NUC for onward distribution to universities and other tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria.

He opined that the only challenge was the lack of infrastructure for auto-gas distributions in about 27 states currently not served by gas or electricity dispensing outlets, stating that it was critical to build either a gas or electric charging stations in university campuses before considering the procurement of CNG and Electric vehicles for tertiary institutions.

He added that other factors inherent in the effective implementation of the project were maintenance and training needs, regulatory framework for CNG/Electric Buses, procurement and funding options, evaluating suppliers and manufacturers. Other necessary issues to be considered included, financial assistance programmes, monitoring and evaluation of CNG and Electric vehicles, performance metrics and key indicators, data collection and analysis  going forward.

In his remarks, the Chairman, Messrs Buck Stalker Engineering Limited, Mr. Manasseh Joshua, noted that his company has a long standing experience spanning over three decades in the business of auto-mobile assembly, modifications and supply.

He also disclosed that the Company’s foreign partners were ready to provide the funds to ensure the execution of any large-scale project, a move he said, was approved by the Federal Government. Mr. Joshua assured that his company had the capacity to provide CNG outlets where necessary as well as provide solutions to other concerns raised by the expert. He assured that his team would consult widely as well as carry all critical stakeholders along in order to ensure the success of the project. He, therefore, solicited the continued backing of the NUC through the provision of the enabling environment as the foremost regulatory agency of universities in the country.

In the Messrs Buck Stalker Engineering Limited delegation were:  the Director (Technical Services), Dr. Vincent Dogo; Director, Industrial Solutions (INDSSOL), Mr. Jude Okocha; Director Operations, Mr. Thomas Ikpa as well as the Accountant, Mr. Keghku Terna. At the meeting were the NUC Deputy Executive Secretary (DES), Academics, Dr. Noel Biodun Saliu;  Director,  Executive Secretary’s Office (DESO), Mr. John Mairafi  Ahmadu; the Acting Directors of Inspection and Monitoring (DIM), Mrs. Lydia T. Imoroa; Human Resources (DHR), Mrs. Victoria Omorodion; Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (DSDE), Mr. Ashafa Ladan; Research, Innovation and Information Technology (DRIIT), Mr. Mohammed Faruk Lawal; Open, Distance and E-learning (DODeL), Dr. Funmilayo Morebise; Accreditation (DA), Engr. Abraham Chundusu, Public Affairs (DPA), Ms. Offiong U Edor as well as the representatives of the Acting Directors of Academic Planning and Deputy Director, Curriculum Development,  Dr. Esther Mmeka and Establishment of Private Universities (DEPU), Ms. Nora Itoro.