Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Teusday urged the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries to fulfill their promise of $100 billion to assist developing countries achieve net-zero emissions.
This is just as the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday criticised the Nigerian media for undermining its watchdog role by increasingly organising ceremonies and presenting awards to some top officials of the government that are supposed to be held accountable.
They both said this, at the closing session of the 27th Nigeria Economic Summit (NES 27) with the theme: “Securing Our Future: The Fierce Urgency of Now,” adding that being aware of the challenges of defunding fossil fuel projects was important.
Net -Zero Emission means removing all man-made greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere through reduction measures by 2050.
Osinbajo explained: “Frankly, a lot of African countries, especially African petroleum and gas producing countries have been like someone asleep at the wheel on these questions of defunding of fossil fuel projects and all that.
“I think that what is crucial is for us to pay attention to this because the world is confronted by the climate crisis and we are part of the world.
“But, we are also confronted with an existential crisis of poverty and even of maternal mortality and all of the various challenges that come with extreme poverty.
“So, while the wealthier countries are focused on climate change and climate change alone, we have to focus, not just on climate change, but access to energy, which is the major constraint that we have.’’
He added: “We, here in Africa is about 0.1 per cent and we have far less power; we have far less access to energy.
“So, the truth of the matter is that this transition to zero emission by 2050 or 2060 or whenever, must he based on fairness, equity and justice.
“And I think it is important for us to keep emphasising this and to also negotiate this; so, we should not be negotiating just national contributions, which is what we spend a lot of our time doing; we must negotiate the terms of this transition.
“We must ensure that the $100 billion a year that the OECD countries promised as funds towards a transition of developing economies, they are faithful to that promise; I think that really it is time for hard bargaining. ‘’
He said what the developing countries contributed was a minor fraction to what the rest of the world was responsible for, citing the US as accounting for 15.5 tons per capita of emissions.
He noted that developing countries must insist that although they were part of the movement for zero emission and believed in it, but they were not the worst polluters and were being asked to make the greatest sacrifice.
He said, “Today, we are experiencing severe manifestations of climate change, flooding in various parts of our country, but these manifestations of climate change were not caused by us.
“But, we receive practically all of the problems associated with it.”
Speaking further, Mohammed argued that while the criteria for giving the awards such as: ‘Governor or Governors of the Year; Minister or Ministers of the Year; Politician or Politicians of the Year,’ were dubious, it was preventing the media from carrying out its watchdog role and from holding power accountable.
“Let’s forget that some of these awardees support the awarding organisations in one form or the other, especially during the awards. To what extent can such media organisations hold their awardees, most of them top officials of government at all levels, accountable? Is this not antithetical to the watchdog role prescribed for the press in the Constitution?” he said.
He said the role of the media in building a virile democracy, especially by holding power accountable was much recognised by the framers of the Constitution, under Section 22 of 1999 Constitution which says: “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media to, at all time, be free to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.”
Although he conceded the Nigerian press was one of the most vibrant in the world , he said the case in the country was that the government always had to contend with endless bullying by the press.
“In Nigeria, however, there is an increasing concern about the ability of the fourth estate to hold power to account. This concern is due to a number of factors. One is bias. For example, there is a national television station here in this country that has, as one of its anchors, a partisan, a known opposition party man.
“Yes, the said anchor is also a journalist. But what kind of objectivity can we expect from such an anchor? No matter how professional he seeks to be, his partisanship will always be a blur. Can such anchor or his medium be trusted to objectively hold power accountable?”
He also expressed concern about the role of some online platforms.
“Can a media organisation that engages in fake news and misinformation uphold the Constitutional role prescribed for the media? Can you be a watchdog when you are a dog of fake news and misinformation? Is it not said that he who must come to equity must come with clean hands?” he remarked.
Presenting a summary of the outcomes of the summit earlier, the Vice Chair, NES 27, Technical Committee, Mrs. Adenike Adeyemi, said there were key thematic areas of focus.
She listed the areas as High and sustained growth, Quality of life, National security, Political economy and digital transformation.
The summit however, urged the federal government to adopt more recommendations from the just concluded National Economic Summit (NES) and previous summits to form policies that would deepen economic growth and development in the country.
Chairman, NESG, Asue Ighodalo, said the group was not fully satisfied with the level of implementation and the trajectory of development, but, commended the federal government for the partnership so far.
He said, “In the 26 years that we have been recommending, we are not as happy as we would like to be as to the trajectory of development. But, we are happy with the support we get from government.
“Over the years, we feel fairly satisfied that most of the recommendations have been extremely impactful to the government.”
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, while fielding questions on debt management, assured that Nigeria already had a strategy to ensure that all loans are paid as and when due.
Ahmed said the loans were largely being used to develop the country’s infrastructure, saying Nigerians would soon begin to feel its impact.
“We don’t just pull out numbers and borrow, this is a result of work that has been done to determine expenditure and what we expect to generate in terms of revenue. We have a debt management strategy that guides how we borrow, it is carefully planned, calibrated so that we are able to meet the debt service obligations when they are due,” she said.
The minister further expressed concern about the worsening number of out-of-school children due to the level of insecurity in the country.
James Emejo and Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja