By Ugonma Cokey
A non –governmental Organisation, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria has presented a 10-point Agenda on the environment to the Nigerian government and policy makers.
Presenting the Agenda during an ERA meeting on Environment sustainability agenda for National Development in Abuja, Dr. Godwin Ojo, explained that the agenda was a result based on years of interaction with communities. The policy covers ten cardinal areas.
The 10-point Agenda focuses on energy transition from fossil fuel based sources to renewable energy that is decentralised, non grid and community-driven so that cost and benefit will be shared by all, statutory investment in renewable sources of energy to create enabling environment through research and development, overhauling of mechanism for seeking redress in the event of oil spills and other environmental degradation, implementation of the UNEP Assessment on Ogoniland, and the need for metering of crude oil pipelines, oil wellheads and flow stations down to the terminals.
Others are the need for a Climate Change Energy Commission to provide instrumental basis to drive the process and effectively combat Climate Change, the need for a National Basic Income Scheme (NABIS) of about N10,000( ten thousand naira) to be paid to all Nigerians who are unemployed and without insurance or Pension scheme to account for the level of livelihoods destruction by desertification, erosion desertification and oil impact and plug the gap of social and income disparity, the need for the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to receive priority attention so as to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Company(NNPC), incorporate the polluter-pays-principles, and Community Development Fund for rural communities.
The agenda also focuses on the need to check corporate impunity and “regulator capture” by oil transnationals, and the need to focus on a post-petroleum economy instead of engaging in oil prospecting in the Chad Basin.
The Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Dr Godwin Ojo, said the recent transition to a new government has provided Nigeria another opportunity to reappraise its current socio-development pathway and set a new agenda to attaining a high economic growth rate within the context of sustainable development.
Ojo said that Nigeria’s energy challenge presents the new administration an opportunity to pursue its economic growth agenda at a low carbon trajectory with minimal incremental cost. “It also provides opportunities to create green jobs, enhance energy efficiency through appropriate energy labelling regulations and sustainably exploit its abundant renewable energy resources.” Ojo said.
According to him, “addressing these challenges will increase energy access, reduce the pervasive poverty across the country and enhance the standard of livelihood with low health risks.”
The Executive Director said that the Nigerian government’s change agenda must cardinally aim at reducing the pervasive energy poverty through enhanced access to energy, particularly for off-grid populace, improved livelihood for women and youths, conservation and efficient use of natural resources, climate-resilient development, environmental protection and social justice.
Participants at the event were drawn from community campaigners from across Nigeria, civil society groups, lawyers, labour unions, the academia, and the media among others, who brainstormed on the state of the Nigerian environment with a view to charting the way forward.