• Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Energy experts call for people-centered approach to Nigeria’s energy transition

Energy experts call for people-centered approach to Nigeria’s energy transition

The Africa Policy Research Institute in collaboration with the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Centre for Social Studies and Development Agenda with support from the Ford Foundation has convened a high-level dialogue to discuss Nigeria’s energy transition process and bridge the gap between high-level policy discourse and its impact on communities that host vital energy minerals for the transition.

Experts at the event brought into focus Nigeria’s energy landscape, highly marked by environmental degradation and socio-economic disparities, predominantly evident in the Niger Delta region where severe environmental damages from decades of oil exploration leading to a widespread destruction of farmlands, pollution of water bodies, and significant air quality issues, gravely affect the health and livelihoods of local communities.

Nnimmo Bassey, executive director of HOMEF, in his keynote presentation on Nigeria’s energy transition process, noted that the federal, state, and communities must transparently engage with companies carrying out exploration and mining activities to adequately hold them responsible for repercussions of their activities in the communities.

“As a nation looking to navigate the new energy transition process it is imperative that we address the root cause of the crisis of the oil and gas sector in our environment. It is time energy companies and the governments take up responsibility and accountability for their explorative activities and fully engage community members and its leadership on their activities and its outstanding consequences on the community.

“To successfully achieve accountability and responsibility in this sector, there is a need for clear conversation between the government, energy companies, and members of the community that spells out the role of every stakeholder and who can be held accountable for negative consequences of the exploratory and extractive activities,” Bassey noted.

In a panel discussion, moderated by Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, executive director at Spaces for Change, the panelists Tengi George-Ikoli, Nigeria Programme, Natural Resources Governance Institute; Ndieze Ikechukwu Agunwa, Vice Chair of the North County of the Nigerian Liberal Congress, and Lanre Sasore, Energy Transition Office agreed that it was time for Nigeria to broaden its Energy Transition Plan (ETP) to accommodate the voices of communities and civil society organisations working to ensure energy democracy for a more people-centered approach to sourcing energy resources.

They believe that this would prevent the country from continuously bearing the brunt of climate change, while suffering from the highest levels of energy poverty.

Darren Walker, president of Ford Foundation, called on communities to challenge the elite to take up responsibility for their activities that have left the country with dire consequences.

“There can be no justice without input from the community, to challenge the elites in the country and the global investment community to responsibility and culpability for what we have done to create and contribute to the sustained challenges that confront Nigeria’s extractive communities,” Walker said.

“It is time to speak up to the elites at global levels – COP, G7, G20, and the likes, and say “You want us to accelerate clean energy and a green economy in our countries when you have helped create the problem we are now confronted with – what is your accountability and responsibility to this growing situation?” he added.

Joseph Onoja, director general of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation and a participant in the dialogue, stressed the need for the government to tackle the injustice and non-inclusion of locals in the renewable energy era.

“We must take a critical look at the sourcing of energy minerals primarily from biodiversity-rich areas which are destroyed to harness its mineral forms, leaving the locals of the area without the essential environmental requirements, especially because they are the ones impacted by these exploration activities. Therefore, in discussing justice in our new energy transition process, we must approach it holistically, and look at the end from the beginning so we don’t plunge ourselves from one injustice scenario into another,” he stated.