Nigerian Civil Society Organisations under the banner of People’s Annual General Meeting (People’s AGM) with focus on climate and environmental justice issues, have advised presidents and other heads of governments on the African continent to reject the latest Europe’s crave for oil and gas resources in Africa, saying instead, the African Development Bank, World Bank, export agencies as well as other development finance institutions should stop financial fossil fuel exploration on the continent.
The People’s AGM Platform was established in May 2022 in Lagos, Nigeria, by leaders of community-based organizations from oil-affected communities including the Niger Delta region, faith-based organizations, human rights groups, students, youths, and artisans , who agreed on some specific recommendations ahead of the Africa Climate Summit.
It should be recalled that as a fallout of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, lasting over 18 months, European countries have shifted attention to Africa, especially countries with abundant fossil fuel resources, towards meeting the gas shortage in Europe, caused by the trade and counter-trade barriers imposed by the parties in the Ukrainian conflict.
The group made the call at the Inaugural African Climate Change Summit held in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital between 4th and 6th September 2023 in the presence of African leaders, intergovernmental organisations, regional economic blocs, United Nations Agencies, indigenous peoples among others.
Convener of the group and Executive Director of the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), the Rev. David Ugolor, opined that African leaders should end fossil fuel subsidies, and instead, tax oil and gas companies to provide money for communities’ renewable driven programmes.
“We are calling on the global north to offer significant financing for loss and damages for the people of Niger Delta and other host communities and countries affected by the negative impact of fossil fuel extraction and climate change,” Ugolor said.
Ugolor said available reports at his disposal show how quickly the world needs to move away from fossil fuel, or at least drastically reduce carbon emission due to the fact that the 1.5-degree target in the Paris Climate Pact is already extremely hard to reach.
“Goal 13 of the 2030 Agenda emphasizes the need for urgent global actions to tackle climate change. Analysis of the current situation indicates that this target will probably not be achieved, even by 2030,” he added.
Ugolor said although the multinational oil companies are divesting from on-shore to off-shore, they are not addressing the problems already created in the nation’s Niger Delta, emphasising the need to beam searchlight on the activities of Shell and other multinationals in Nigeria’s oil producing region.
Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, Co-Chair, African Indigenous Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development, AIFES said the aim of his group is to end gas flaring in the Niger Delta and clean up the entire region.
“We want an end to gas flaring and clean up the entire Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
“We are also calling on African Governments to enforce sanctions on all erring companies and ensure adequate compensation is paid to the people for the damaged environment,” Pyagbara said.
Supporting the move above, Taiwo Otitolaye, Co-Chair of the Group and National Coordinator, Publish What You Pay, Nigeria advised financial institutions to stop supporting energies firms in Nigeria noting that this is the only way to reduce their activities in the Niger Delta region.
“We want investors in Oil and Gas companies operating in Nigeria to agree to participate in a fact-finding mission to the Niger Delta region and this should be in collaboration with civil society actors to witness the true impact on communities of oil company operations in the Niger Delta.
“We are also calling on investors to stop lending moral and financial support to companies that are expanding oil and gas production in defiance of the Paris Agreement,” Otitolaye said.
Of interest to Bridget Emem Okon, Executive Director of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, are the solutions being promoted to the climate problems in Niger Delta, which according to her are flawed. She advised investors to stop promoting inappropriate solutions to the climate challenges in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
At the end of the summit, African leaders agreed to establish the Africa Climate Summit as a biennial event convened by the African Union and hosted by AU Member States, with a view to setting the continent’s new vision taking into consideration the emerging global climate and development issues.