The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has called for private sector collaboration with the Federal Government in the production of methanol in Nigeria.
Onu made the call on Friday during the “South-East sensitisation on the implementation of the national policy on methanol fuel production technology” held at the International Conference Centre, Umuahia, Abia State.
He said: “The essence of the sensitisation is to make Nigerians understand and appreciate the enormous benefits of introducing methanol into our economy.”
He said that harnessing the potentials of methanol will help to grow the nation’s economy, adding: “It will improve the standard of living of our people.
“It will help us create new jobs for both the young and old.
“It will also create wealth for individuals and the nation.
“All these will be achieved while protecting the environment.”
The minister expressed concern that the nation’s economy had relied “almost entirely on commodities” for a long time, hence the need for value addition.
He said: “Initially, we relied on agricultural products.
“Then, later, it was crude petroleum (crude oil and natural gas).
“We did not add value to these natural resources.
“As a result, our revenue sources have been very limited.
“Also, it adversely affected job creation.
“This has not been good for us a nation.
“We now want to add value to our natural resources by utilising science, technology and innovation.”
Onu said the world was gradually reducing its reliance on crude oil, adding that emphasis was being laid on cleaner and renewable sources of energy.
He argued that the production of electric cars was geared toward a reduction in the demand for crude oil.
He said: “We now have to start preparing for the future by strengthening our revenue base in response to the current trend in the world.
“Luckily for us, Nigeria is more of a gas nation and it is estimated that we have the ninth largest natural gas reserves in the world.”
The minister however regretted that Nigeria had continued to flare its gas, losing a lot of revenue and other benefits because “its exploitation does not involve any conversion into new products.
“The methanol policy, which we are presenting today offers us an opportunity to better utilise our enormous natural gas resources.”
The minister said that producing methanol from natural gas would significantly increase gas utilisation and consequently reduce gas flaring in Nigeria.
He said methanol production would help to grow the chemical industry, provide alternative source of clean energy for cooking and serve as a replacement for diesel.
Onu therefore urged stakeholders in the southeast to embrace the innovation and collaborate with the federal government to ensure the full implementation of the policy.
Also, the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Chief Uche Ogah, commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for the innovation.
Ogah described the policy initiative as a demonstration of the President’s commitment and steadfastness toward diversifying the nation’s economy.
He said similar efforts by the Federal Government to explore and harness the opportunities that abound in the mining and steel sector were currently going on in his ministry.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State expressed delight with the Federal Government’s initiative, saying diversifying the economy remained the sure way to sustain the nation.
Ikpeazu, who was represented at the meeting by his deputy, Chief Ude Oko-Chukwu, said the state would not hesitate to key into the implementation of the policy to ensure its success.
He charged the states of the South East to brace the challenge of achieving a successful implementation of the policy for the overall interest of the zone and Nigeria in general.