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HOMEF calls for stakeholders, community inclusion in Nigeria Energy Transition plan.

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HOMEF calls for stakeholders, community inclusion in Nigeria Energy Transition plan.

By Katherine Abayomi, Port Harcourt

Environmental stakeholders drawn from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and civil society organizations (CSOs) during a technical session at a one-day stakeholders meeting on Renewable Energy, organised by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital at the weekend spoke on the need for laws and policies that protect communities rights.

They emphasize the need for adequate environmental impact assessment (EIA) and as well, Social Impact Assessment, before citing renewal energy projects in communities.

These stakeholders took into consideration the situation of the Niger Delta region which communities were neither consulted or allowed to participate before their lands were taken for oil exploitation. They regretted that the communities were being left to bear the brunt while the companies divested and moved away, leaving behind pollution and damage.

The Executive Director of HOMEF, Dr. Nnimmo Bassey, said there will be a lot of stranded assets in the Niger Delta as oil companies divest and exit the region.

‘Just energy transition not only restores the livelihoods of the people of the Niger Delta but improves those of host communities for the renewable energy projects”.

“Nigeria has huge potential in solar and wind energy if well harnessed. As we move forward, let the people’s interest be at the forefront, that is why it is Just Transition. Whether the oil well is old or not, except it is decommissioned and the area cleaned up, the problem remains,” he said. People’s interests are at the forefront, so it is just transition.

Bassey called for a review of the energy transition plan in Nigeria to ensure community inclusion and participation.

“The issue of energy in Nigeria is a long-protracted one. We produce a lot of resources for energy, for example, crude oil and gas, but people don’t have electricity, and we do know that even though we produce more energy today, we cannot transmit because the transmission system cannot carry much more power than what is being made right now. We believe the way forward is to invest in renewable energy, which is solar, wind, and others.

“The first step to take is for the country, especially for the government, to review the energy transition plan or to draw up a clear energy transition plan knowing that we have to move to cleaner resources and to invest in this, have conversations with communities because it won’t be enough to just transit from dirty sources to clean sources and the communities still have nothing to show for it.

“So communities must be at the centre of the discussion about the change of energy source. Because the land will come from them, the sea, whether it is offshore wind or solar, will still come from the communities, so it will depend on these natural spaces.

“This is the time to begin to invest in alternative energy sources. Just saying that we must depend on oil and gas means that we want to keep on depending on the resource without taking into account the harm that is being suffered by the communities and the environment,” he stated.

A lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Fidelis Allen, highlighted the need to employ the newly enacted Electricity Act while considering new energy sources, stating that the economic growth model the government relays for economic growth and recognition in the country is a contradiction of the policy provision that we have.

“Civil societies should push for better energy means in the country and state and also make laws in electricity supply, distribution. Also the local government and states should do the needful”.

“The new Act provides the states and local governments with the opportunity to solve their energy problem and calls for the domestication of the law by the various state assemblies concerning the peculiarities of each state.”

The stakeholders, who noted that Nigeria is rich in renewable energy sources, submitted that the country can have a better energy supply through the adequate use of its abundant renewable energy mix. They called on the federal government to light up local communities, especially those in the coastal areas, with renewable energy sources.

They also called on the need for Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) of communities where wind farms and other renewable energy projects will be cited to avoid a repeat of the devastation that Niger Delta communities are faced with as a result of oil extraction.

Environmental stakeholders have emphasized the need for host communities’ inclusion in Nigeria’s energy transition plan.

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