Government’s neglect of renewable energy regrettable, says activist
Nigeria’s negligence for alternative sources of energy, particularly renewable and green energy is regrettable and something to worry about as the country continues to struggle with its economy as a result of dwindling earnings from oil and gas resources.
The Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, said this in an interview in Benin City, Edo State, at the weekend.
In his words: “There is steady transition from fossil fuel dependency to renewable sources of energy. Nigeria and other countries will be caught napping if they don’t develop a renewable energy hub in West Africa.
“Surprisingly, the Federal Government budgeted over N19b for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to buy generators and fuel. But N19b can generate huge amount of renewable energy that Nigeria can start from.
“There is no budget line for renewable energy but there is a budget for maintaining the old system. Nigeria is not thinking of energy transition and when we signal leave the oil in the soil, we are talking about Nigeria beyond oil.”
He told The Guardian that he had been campaigning for ‘leave the oil in the soil’ in the last two decades for several reasons, saying Nigeria would have been a better country if government had paid greater attention to harnessing its abundant resources from the 1960s.
He regretted that Nigeria is now a net importer of food, furniture, egusi soup, ogbono soup, garri, palm oil and so on, insisting: “We have misplaced our priorities and the rental states that depend solely on oil has been responsible for the state of our economy.”
He argued that although Nigerians may point to some of the infrastructure that were built from oil proceeds, the monumental damage done to the environment, the conflicts that have emanated from the communities and the political arena, as well as the killings in the country from the 1960s followed the do or die politics to ensure control of the oil.
“People seek political offices to control the oil resources. So, Nigeria has misplaced its priorities since the discovery of oil. That is why we said given this conflict and situation surrounding oil over the years, let us leave the oil in the soil,” he added.
Ojo said he had been clamouring for ‘leave the oil in the soil’ because it is an exhaustible resource and as such the country should begin to plan its economy as if oil does not exist.
That, according to him, include divestment to the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) and not the type Nigeria is operating and using to harmonise budgets.
“Norway, for example, has raised over $700 billion in its sovereign wealth fund. But Nigeria cannot boast of such amount as it keeps drawing from the wealth fund. The intention was to have savings and divestment to other areas so that the country will move forward,” he said.
Ojo cautioned that oil would become obsolete in the next 30 years, adding: “There are now electrical cars, there is now a global de-carbonisation taking place gradually. You will see a transition from fossil fuel dependency to renewable sources of energy.”
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