[Conversations With Abang Mercy]: “We need to shift focus from oil” -Chibueze Emenike, Project Manager Green Deal Nigeria


Conversations with Abang Mercy explores ‘Green Deal Nigeria’- A Nigeria without oil

What does Nigeria’s future look like when the oil runs out?   How can Nigeria transition from fossil fuel to clean energy? Where would green jobs be created? What will happen if the country does not squarely deal with the ravages of climate change? Nigeria is in an unusual position compared to other sub-Saharan African countries as it contributes to global warming through massive gas flaring and bush burning, whilst enduring desertification, sea level rise and extreme weather events that contribute to land degradation and intensify conflict. Chibueze Emenike, of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Foundation – the Project Manager – ‘Green Deal Nigeria’ responds to Abang Mercy as to why Nigeria needs the deal.

To start with, what does Green Deal Nigeria mean?

Green Deal Nigeria is an initiative aimed at creating a debate on a greener development paradigm shift for Nigeria. Green Deal Nigeria wants everyone: young, old, to have a say as to where Nigeria should go in terms of economic growth and social justice.

The debate for Green Deal seeks to answer questions bothering on what Nigeria’s future looks like when the oil runs out?  Do you think the question is a source of concern to the Nigerian Political class?

Good question which unfortunately has a not so encouraging answer. Nigeria’s political class has unfortunately refused to dream of a prosperous and successful Nigeria beyond oil (take the events surrounding the PIB debate as an example). This in my opinion should begin to alarm the populace, bearing in mind what our hitherto major oil customers have begun to do with respect to oil.

 

The GDN study commissioned by the Heinrich Böll Foundation focuses on the potential for a greener Nigeria… Many believe the Climate Change debate is a facade. How true?

Arguments like these are at best laughable. Go through the length and breadth of Nigeria, and the effects of climate change are glaring, the indescribable consequences of desertification, the havoc that gulley erosions have caused, and the very recent destructive powers of the floods that hit Nigeria last year. A wise man once said and I quote: “Only fools doubt proof”. Although I think everyone (including climate sceptics) believes in the phenomenon of climate change, the differences in opinions lie in the cause of climate change.

 

The study explains how climate change should be regarded and how a clean energy economy provides growth for ordinary Nigerians. How far has Nigeria gone in-terms of alternative energy and product quality?

Ahhh… Nigeria has not done much, except a few interventions here and there with respect to alternative energy despite the abundance of sources of these forms of energy. Product quality wise, the country’s agency for standards (Standards Organisation of Nigeria) must begin to pay attention as inferior and substandard products have the potential of discouraging demand driven growth of the alternative energy sector, take the growth of Kenya’s renewable energy sector as a case study.

 

  Germany intends to have about 35 per cent of its energy sourced from renewable by 2020, 50% by 2030, 65 per cent by 2040, What can Nigeria learn from such nations?

These numbers on one hand give you an idea of the potentials and viability of alternative energy, and on the other hand, it tells you how far behind we as a country are. We therefore can begin to emulate countries like Germany whilst factoring our local dynamics.

What will happen if the country does not squarely deal with the ravages of climate change?

If we do not begin to face the subject matter of climate change headlong, the prospects will not be attractive. Only last week, it was estimated that we lost about ₦2.6 trillion to the floods of last year, we have also seen an unprecedented rise in skirmishes resulting from a competition for natural resources. Unfortunately, this might just be the beginning.

As the Project Manager, what is the relevance of the Green Deal Content to Oil and Gas in Nigeria?

Green Deal Nigeria seeks to inspire a debate about the current state of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector. It seeks to deepen transparency and reduce corruption through improved public participation, and encourages a shift in focus from oil as a mainstay of the economy.

 

The United States is pursuing “Holy Grail” of energy to attain 100% energy dependency at home, with over 40% of Nigeria’s oil sold to America, what does that say about the future of Nigeria’s oil?

Let’s do some scenario painting together….. We have a customer who buys 2/5th of our product, and even when the going is good, we still end up with budget deficits and borrowing. Now imagine this customer stops buying your product entirely! You lose a whopping 40% of expected income; this scenario scares me more than anything! This is why we must begin to imagine and shift focus from oil.

 

What do you expect at the end of the Green Deal Campaign, how does it seek to deepen democracy and sustainable development for all?

To be frank, we hope this campaign goes on and on. We might not be able to physically continue to transverse the length and breadth of the country, but new and old media has the ability to take our message where we cannot go.  We hope to give people an improved understanding of the issues, and thus amplify their voices, as any development that is sustainable must integrate people’s concerns.

 

Nigeria as it is contributes to global warming through massive gas flaring and bush burning. – The Nigerian Government continues to shift the deadline to end gas flaring. Does the GDN Campaign bring to the fore the need for the end to the gas flared?

Nigeria actually only contributes a small amount to global carbon emissions, but nevertheless, gas flaring has an unimaginably destructive effect on the host communities. It is also downright ridiculous that more than $2 billion worth of gas per year is burnt for nothing!! Yes there are “business” arguments explaining its continued practise, but it still makes no sense honestly. Green Deal Nigeria argues for an enhanced harnessing and utilisation of Nigeria’s humongous gas reserves instead of the current status quo.

 

The Agriculture chapter, talks about desertification especially in the Northern Nigeria, Gulley Erosion in the South East and Sea level rise along the Coastal line. How best can these environmental challenges be tackled?

To be frank, there are no quick fixes for any of these impacts you mentioned but climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts must be implemented. Nigeria already has a holistic National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action (NASPA) developed, we must therefore start to implement these strategies as expounded in the document.

 

How can the issues of Nigeria’s Ethno-religious tensions in the North, terrorism and on-going militancy in the Niger Delta be tackled with the three thematic areas covered by the Green Deal Project?

It would be naive to suggest the solutions highlighted in the Green Deal Nigeria presentations will solve these problems. To be frank, the issues you highlighted are more complex to have outright solutions in Green Deal Nigeria, but GDN does contribute its quota to the complex solutions required.

 

How will you rate the success of the Green Deal debate? And what are the regions covered so far and to be covered by the Presenters?

The public response has been tremendously encouraging. People really want to know these things, they want to be engaged. The campaign has visited London and Germany and in Nigeria, the South east (Awka, Abakaliki and Enugu) and we are currently in Lagos. Other regions on our radar would be the South South and North central regions.

These are the dates for the Lagos Events:

Tuesday 4th June, Event with Editors and the media,

Venue: Planet 1 Ikeja

Time: 10:00 hrs

 

Wednesday 5th June, Unilag event,

Venue: Afe Babalola hall, University of Lagos

Time: 17:00 hrs

 

Thursday 6th June, The Avenue Suites event,

Venue: The Avenue Suites, Tiamiyu Savage street, Victoria Island, Lagos

Time: 18:00 hrs

 

Friday 7th June, 2013, Goethe event

Venue: Goethe Institute, 4th floor, City hall, Catholic mission street, Lagos Island

Time: 10:00 hrs

 

Is the campaign just restricted to Town Hall Meetings? Will your organisation be willing to assist the Nigerian Government in developing a sustainable framework?

There are different levels of the campaign, and the town hall meeting style is just the first level. We already are building a critical mass of Civil Society partners who would take our material and further disseminate within the grassroots where they operate. The Heinrich Böll Stiftung Foundation would be glad to render any form of assistance; in fact we already have been rendering such help, case in point, the National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action. We have also been invited to make our input during the review of the 1st Implementation period of the Vision 202020, Nigeria’s roadmap for development.

 

  After the Occupy Nigeria Protest, Nigerians realized the level of corruption ravaged in the oil sector, thereby leading to the fuel subsidy debate..  What does that say?

I can summarise that in one sentence -A better informed citizenry is the foundation for good governance.

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