Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Extractive360, S4C Seek Oil-Rich Communities’ Inclusion In Nat’l Transition Plans

Extractive 360
A cross section of participants during the workshop in Delta State.

The Federal Government has been called upon to ensure the inclusion of the voices and perspectives of oil-rich communities in the National Energy Transition Plan (ETP).

The call was made in Warri, Delta State, on Thursday, February 2, 2023, during a community workshop on energy transition in Nigeria’s oil-rich communities, organised by Extractive360 in partnership with Spaces for Change (S4C) and support from Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP). 

The organisers said the forum became necessary following the country’s target to transit from the use of fossil fuels to renewable energy sources by 2060, throwing up the question of what becomes of the people and devastated communities in the Niger Delta region. 

In her remarks, the executive director of Extractive360, Juliet Ukanwosu called the event “significant”, as it provides the opportunity to sensitise communities about the global energy transition campaign, Nigeria’s ETP and how it will all impact people in oil-bearing communities.

“As we know, Nigeria has predominantly been an oil-producing nation for decades, leaving communities with devastating effects; from environmental degradation to air and water pollution, to mention a few. It is needless to state that many communities have lost their farmlands and rivers – their primary means of livelihood – as a result of oil exploration. No one here today is spared of these negative effects. I’m sure everyone has a unique story to tell. 

“While we are seeking justice for this age-long environmental degradation, the new reality is the move from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources. The question now is, what happens to the people of the Niger Delta whose environments have been devastated? What alternative livelihoods can they have? What new jobs can they be employed for? How much did Nigeria do to include their opinions in the ETP? What plans are there for environmental clean-up?” Ukanwosu, who was represented at the event by the organisation’s senior research officer, Dr. Mercy Makpor queried. 

She noted that these are some of the issues found by recent research ‘Energy Transition in Nigeria’s Oil-rich Communities,’ conducted by S4C and partners. She further urged the government to review the ETP to ensure that the transition is fair and just to everyone as possible. 

Speaking, the executive director of Spaces for Change, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, who was represented at the event by the organisation’s legal officer, Chetachi Louis-Udeh, also expressed concern about the fate of communities and individuals in oil-bearing states whose lives depend on oil production, following the transition. 

She disclosed that researchers went through the national transition plans and discovered that it was silent on communities’ concerns, especially the oil-rich communities. 

“Since 2021 Nigeria has been deliberating on this issue. Currently, there’s a plan for the transition to take place and Nigeria is looking at 2060 to finally move from fossil fuel to renewable energy. However, the plan never took into consideration the voices of the people and communities in oil-rich states. What then happens to oil-rich communities? What happens to individuals whose lives depend solely on crude oil? What alternatives are there for them?” Ibezim-Ohaeri asked just as she stressed the need for mainstreaming their opinions in the ETP.

She urged participants at the event to actively participate in the deliberations, adding that the main aim of the engagement was to hear their views and harness their concerns on the burning issue of the energy transition. 

In her paper presentation, Extractive360’s senior research officer, Dr. Mercy Makpor explained some of the key research recommendations to include prioritising the involvement of communities in the green economy by creating spaces for healthy engagement, taking urgent steps to address environmental injustices and creating an alternative livelihood for oil-rich communities as well as the involvement of women as key stakeholders in energy efficiency and environmental sustainability initiatives. 

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