Climate Change, The Federal Government And Generator Donation

Diesel generators release tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and are a major cause of urban smog and a contributor to respiratory ailments and acid rain. We do not know how many generators are in Nigeria but every where you go there are generators providing power for government establishments, individual households and companies. It is common knowledge that we have no appropriate environmental regulation as well as clean air act in Nigeria. These generators will therefore merely intensify local air pollution and global warming.

In a speech delivered by the Executive Governor of Delta State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan recently in California, he lamented that "For reasons which are subject to question Nigeria is yet to take a strong posture towards influencing the climate change debate raging over the world. He went on to state that we i.e. Nigeria seems to be quiet, almost indifferent." Dr Uduaghan also alluded to the known fact that already our emissions from wide use of generators among other sources of emissions constitute a major source of global warming. Dr Uduaghan is a member of the Federal Executive Council where decisions are taken about the development of the country as well as issues on sustainable development.

Now, I wonder if Climate Change has ever been discussed in the Federal Executive Council meeting. If it has then the news that the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Humphrey Abah on behalf of the Federal government recently donated eight 500 KVA generators to eight States to encourage small scale enterprises in the zones is not just surprising but beats the imagination of those clamouring for action on Climate Change. I understand the states are Imo, Ebonyi, Kogi, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Osun and Kano. Thank God Delta is not among. Some of these states are located in stable ecosystems such as the Sahel Savanna which will become vulnerable as global warming will reinforce existing patterns of water scarcity and increase the risk of drought. Others are in the country's aquatic ecosystems, wetlands and other habitats that will create overwhelming problems for an already impoverished populace.

So what is wrong with us? There is a United Nations conference coming up on Climate Change in December 2009. I am dead sure that arrangements have been made by the Federal Government to attend this conference. Should we be attending this UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen from December 7 to 18? What shall we be going there to tell the world? That we are distributing generators as a way of reducing emissions as a government? Or are we just going to attend and collect estacode to line our pockets?

Climate Change and the associated obligation to reduce Green House Emissions have become one of the most important policy issues in the global system and it is not reasonable for Nigeria to lag behind through our deliberate actions. I am not against development. However, development must be sustainable if we are to leave a country that will sustain our children in future.

In 2007, President Yar'Adua declared an emergency on electricity generation and supply. We all know that hundreds of billions of Naira have been spent on improving power supply, yet, it remains elusive. But this is not a reason to buy more generators and supply to states. Power supply remains the life wire of any economy and countries that have realized this, have sustainable energy policies that are religiously implemented. The key word is sustainable policy. I do not think purchase and supply of generators is sustainable. How often are we going to supply these generators? We have been paying lip service to sustainable development without taking necessary actions. This is the time to look at wind power and solar power. These generators will depend on oil to power them. The world is turning away from over dependence on oil. Yet in Nigeria we have turned a blind eye to what the world is doing. Is it because of easy supply of generators that we have been unable to do something about power in the country? Who is leading this?

I have always wondered what the policy on Climate Change is for Nigeria. The action of government portrays a high level of insincerity among policy makers. Or are they doing this because they do not know? One is tempted to say that because of the level of corruption it is not unlikely that even when we know what the outcome of our actions will be, we would still act in ways that will affect the general populace adversely.

Where is the Minister for Environment? I understand that as part of Federal Government's initial response to the issue of Climate Change, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was put in place to help evaluate and articulate a national response to the phenomenon recently. It was also reported that the first landmark stride to advance our national drive towards combating the threat of Climate Change was recently made with the establishment of a National Climate Change Roundtable. Is donation of generators part of the way forward?

Climate Change borders on security of all aspects of our lives. It borders on health, food, housing and even the economic security. The Federal government should therefore not be talking tongue in cheek. Is it true that the issue of climate change is very critical to the Seven Point Agenda of the present administration as well as the National Sustainable Development Goals and the Millennium Development Goals? I understand there plans for awareness campaigns. So how can we be shouting about awareness campaigns and be distributing generators?

If we are to devote a lot of attention to comprehensive, sustained public awareness and education this must start in-house at the Federal Executive level. We should not be heard talking about an issue, having high profile meetings, setting up committees and at the same time doing different things that will be detrimental to the cause we are fighting. It does not augur well for the image of the regime. So while we wait for the Ministerial roundtable to address the key issues about Climate Change and plan a policy direction in due course on the implementation of the key decisions it would be advisable for the Federal Government to stop further distribution of generators. In the words of Barack Obama "This is the moment when we must come together to save our country Nigeria. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands". As some one who comes from an oil producing community in Kula that is already sinking, I do not know where my family house will be in the next 20 years. We have to act now.



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