LAST Friday, at the official unveiling of the Hyundai Kona electric car by the Stallion Group, Director-General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council, NADDC, Mr. Jelani Aliyu, announced the Federal Government’s plan to begin Electric Vehicle Pilot programme in three universities – the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto; University of Nigeria, Nsukka and the University of Lagos.
But in 2018, Nigeria had unveiled its first Electric Vehicle, EV – a five-seater car named ‘Lion Ozumba 551’. It was produced by the Engineering Faculty of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, which had also produced the first gasification plant that used organic waste to generate electricity.
The UNN EV was named after the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of UNN, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba, who laid the foundation for innovation and technology at the university.
The 2018 EV milestone at UNN was followed by the introduction of the Electric Cars Bill in 2019 (SB.726), promoted by Senator Ben Murray-Bruce. The Bill sought an Act that would phase out petrol-powered vehicles by 2035 and introduce electric cars.
With the breakthrough in local production of EVs in the country and the proposed Electric Cars Bill on the floor of the Senate, environmentalists had hoped that Nigeria was ready to enter the league of nations making efforts to curb emission of Greenhouse Gases, thereby contributing its quota to tackling climate change and switching over to cleaner energy sources.
That hope was, however, dashed when Senator Murray-Bruce withdrew the Bill following intense bashing by his colleagues. But EVs are cheap, environment-friendly and easy to maintain. In countries that care for the environment, buying of EVs also come with huge tax incentives and subsidies from government.
Environmental skepticism and resistance to global efforts towards clean energy switchover as a result of greed for profits in crude oil sales is as futile as standing against a moving train.
As of December 2018, there were about 5.3 million light-duty all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in use around the world. Besides, quite a number of countries have fixed a date at which they project to phase out internal combustion engines and migrate to clean energy.
France, for instance, plans to pass legislation this year to phase out all oil and gas exploration and production on its mainland and overseas territories by 2040.
In the United States, with a stroke of the pen immediately after being sworn in as President, Joe Biden had pulled the US back to the Paris climate accord and took a series of coordinated actions that may well mark the official beginning of the end of the fossil-fuel era, after Trump had pulled the country out of the accord.
It is important for us to understand that we must embrace the future which is EVs and renewable energy. With the inherent innovativeness of Nigerians and abundant solar energy from the sun, Nigeria can make more money from renewable energy technology, and at the same time find lasting solution to her intractable problem of epileptic power supply.