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Climate crisis: Stakeholders advocate Energy Democracy in Nigeria

Blessing Iruoma

Stakeholders in the Niger Delta region have advocated for democratisation of energy in Nigeria, insisting that it is cheaper and will be affordable by all Nigerians irrespective of their status and background.

This call was made at a two day workshop on “Climate Crisis and Energy Transition”, organised in Port Harcourt, by Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ).

In his presentation, Mr Chima Williams, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), explained that with the transition to renewable energy if achieved, will reduce the challenges of climate crisis, especially as fossil fuel which has caused serious damages to the environment, will then be faced off.

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He explained that democratisation of energy will mean sourcing different ways of generating power, which will contribute positively to the growth of the nation economy.

Williams believes that if the government stops some obnoxious practices that are associated with fossil fuel and go into renewable energy sources it will tackle the issue of climate crisis in this part of the world.

“Having an energy grid that is up national grid, that is domesticated and the people owns the processes. When they own the process in terms of how it is sourced, in terms of how it is managed, in terms of who get what, when and how, in terms of how payment are made for sustainability. In that way, they own the energy source, how it is managed and they protect it, it makes energy cheaper, available and affordable for the people.

“The issue of energy and climate are intertwined because the activities that results to the incidence of climate change mostly from Nigeria is the incidence of fossil fuel extraction. The bi-product of fossil fuel in terms of gas is being burnt off through the incidence of gas flaring for instance and this create enormous green house emission that contribute to climate impact or climate change.

“If we go into energy democracy it will be a compound win for everybody and taxes can be paid to government and of course those energy cannot be given free of charge but because it is affordable, available, cheep, people will easily pay for it and government will generate revenue, the people are happy, both the companies that will invest in it”, the ERA boss observed.

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On his part, an environment activist in the region, Mr Celestine Akpobari, faulted the government for claiming to be transiting to renewable energy when it is still sourcing for Oil Wells to extract oil. He described such as action as hypocrite.

“We are talking about just transition. This things must be available and affordable. When you said you are transiting and the poor man cannot have electricity or you claim you are moving from fossil fuel but you are still looking for new oil wells, you are still taking 30 percent to go and look for oil well and you said you are transiting. That is not just transition. Just transition means you will tune down on activities that emit carbon into the atmosphere.

“So they are deceiving themselves. That is hypocrite. They must democratise the process, only when that happens, that the poor man can benefit. You cannot just sit in your house and at the end of every month they come to your gate and guess the energy you have consumed and give you bill whether there was light or not”.

Earlier, Executive Director of ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor, said the workshop was designed to enhance the knowledge of participants including CSOs, journalists and community representatives on emerging issues in the global climate change trend and energy transition.

Ugolor said, “We want to build a movement around climate Justice issues and support host communities to amplify their issues to the world. Issues around the payment of loss and damages to host communities by the big polluters are gradually gaining ground around the world, it was a major item for discussion at the just concluded COP27 held in Egypt.”