Deep social discussions with a never seen before “friend” and fellow Nigerian environmentalist met on twitter @DoksP, made me realize how interested the Nigerian government is in developing bio-fuels as energy alternative in Nigeria. During the discussion, he shared with me a major policy document produced by the Nigerian government on their readiness to also integrate bio-fuel production into the downstream oil sector as part of the incentives to drive attraction to the idea of energy alternatives, a subject with extremely low popularity in Nigeria. The document that was produced in 2007 [4 years ago] made provisions for the regulatory framework for the establishment and functioning of the bio-fuels energy commission, the aspect that I personally feel may be the major flaw of this laudable idea considering the vulnerability of establishing commission to politicization in Nigeria and the potential to draw up unnecessary bureaucracy and the general lack of trust in governance in Nigeria.
Bio-fuels are derived from natural carbon fixation on wastes from households, restaurants, livestock and other organic matter with potentials as energy source [biomass]. Bio-fuel is an energy alternative that has added so much value to nations economically, and investments in bio-fuels have improved the image of such nation as progressive and innovative, as nations that are ready for the future where innovation is important for development. A few minutes research made me realize that some nations have taken major steps in their effort to trade bio-fuels as commodity across international borders, and I had to imagine the chains of opportunities meaningful investment in bio-fuels could bring including job creation and local economic development that Nigeria desperately needs. Also looking at the role of bio-fuel development within the concept of building a green economy [socio-economic ideology inclusive] as slightly mentioned earlier, nations that has seen the need to gradually shift bio-fuel production to the mainstream will also enjoy great opportunities to build social equity [comes with the holistic package of building a green economy] and improve the standards of living of its citizens [opportunities Nigerians also despirately need]
Coming back to take a better look at the potentials for bio-fuels in Nigeria, with the belief that investments in bio-fuels will open opportunities for economic and social development, I will start with the critical analysis of the policy document with the intention to highlight its weaknesses and strength.
As described in the policy document, the government has the intention of dividing implementation process into two phases, where the first phase caters for the integration of bio-fuel use into the downstream oil sector in order to establish solid market use of the product, and to also add some market value to the product. This aspect again shows some good intention, but a little confusing considering the lack of clear specifics on the intended bio-fuel production and use [i.e. type of bio-fuel, quantity and brief anticipated results/clear forecast]. The first phase of implementation also became more confusing with the too early role of importation while the document disappointingly ignores the very numerous local sources of raw material for bio-fuels. This role given to importation also goes against the main goals of the increasing calls for and use of bio-fuel globally which includes reduction of waste/recycling, local economic development, development of the green energy sector from the grass-root, energy independence amongst others.
The impressive second phase of the bio-fuel implementation programme that will run concurrently with the first phase strongly identifies with the need to engage the agricultural sector and investments will be private sector driven [though am not sure if there is any policy support for bio-fuels in the agricultural sector, and a still not sure on how the private sector will be engaged]. Going on further to study the policy objectives, it’s so clear that the Nigerian government has seen the potentials in developing bio-fuels, and they are ready to optimize the little opportunities they have seen in the bio-fuel project. The government has been able to identify the potentials for job creation, rural and agricultural development even though this policy document was designed in isolation from what is obtainable in the Nigerian agricultural sector as “the early stage” of this project.
It’s also important to consider the fact that the approach outlined in the document if not well designed may threaten the nation’s food security leading to poverty and more under-development.
Where I have my reservations on the policy document on this bio-fuel project is the plan to attract foreign investments into the intending Nigerian bio-fuel industry. This aspect of the document indicates the vulnerability of the plan for bio-fuels to dangerous capitalists or let’s says capitalists without conscience. Bio-fuels got the attraction it has now because it’s one of the products that drives sustainable development in societies and achieving sustainable development in the new global world [driven by capitalist interests] is all about giving souls to societies and breathing life into dead conscience of emerging capitalist societies. So basically, a bio-fuel project is something that should give a lot of preference to social development with strong objective to enhance energy independence and grass-root economic development in Nigeria.
On a last note, the plan on bio-fuels in Nigeria as presented in the policy document has failed to properly define all inclusive stakeholders that could have given the document a strong point as a project developed for the good of the masses. Though I have not condemned the approach explained in the document because it is very valid too considering the fact that the project needs to survive in the global economy driven by capitalist theories and practises. But the plans on bio-fuels should expand to the grass-root with the intention to save the environment and drive sustainable development too.
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Based on the conclusions in the last post [climate change in southwest Nigeria], the passed Nigeria’s climate change bill on the act to establish the National Climate Change Commissions aka “The Commission” appears to be a right step in the right direction. Institutionalization of the approach to tackle climate change in Nigeria is a single big and fundamental step that will organize multiple activities directed towards climate change in all sectors [private and public] within Nigeria towards the set goals.
The establishment of “The Commission” is sure a laudable step, and to a great extent re-confirms to me our potentials to rightly combat climate change. Reading through the bill, the stakeholders of “The Commission” in personal opinion appears to have been properly defined but wrongly constituted.
I personally agree with all the sectors involved as stakeholders in building and operating “The Commission” but to a great extent disagree with the intended representatives of these sectors who are “political appointees” with more than enough duties and probably without the passion that is the strongest element to achieving the desired result in this fight. Also observed from the bill to create “The Commission” is the possibility of over-constitution of the organization exposing it to the usual problem of any Nigerian government institution “bureaucracy”, informally used to describe a “very-reactive-system” in Nigeria. This alone has the potentials to work against the efficiency of “The Commission” created to tackle a natural phenomena that appears to be out of control. Moving on to the intended duties of “The Commission” as stated by the passed bill, keeping in mind the proclaimed financial state of the nation, the needed professional capacity and the Nigerian government’s non-challant attitude on building a green energy sector, my easy conclusion is that the bill to establish “The Commission” is too bogus, too ambitious, and the timeline i picture in relation to most of the duties is not realistic.
Reading the bill further to understand the possible framework of operations, the design i kept on picturing despite my effort to see beyond that is an over-centralized organization that is extremely vulnerable to politicization considering the priority given to the need to build the framework of operations around the geo-political zones, ignoring the need to build the framework around a nationwide standardized research that clearly identifies the extent of climate change and its geographic impact in order to give adequate response proactively and professionally.
In my opinion, i think its time our government realized that the fight against climate change is a different fight, a “never-seen” before fight that requires more than they are commiting into it. Its a fight that requires the proactive commitment of the whole nation, and a fight relevant enough for the nation with huge diversity to bond over. Institutionalization of climate change far from what our government is doing requires the need to engage total quality management, where passion and extreme professionalism matters and engaged, and where timeframes for several actions is strictly adhered to. The fight against climate is the fight for national survival because climate change impacts are enough to distabilize any nation on earth.
In conclusion, the bill will need to re-define the constitution of the intended climate change commission and the mode of operations clearly defined reflecting the realities on ground. The personnel of the institution should be given the right orientation that will boost their passion, and also allow their creativity as professionals.
And finally, engaging the concept of “Total-Quality-Management” won’t be a bad idea, at least it has worked in government establishments in some countries, and its quite fundamental to the operations of most private organizations now.
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Research carried out on south-west Nigerian farmers as a postgraduate research student on climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts in agriculture revealed a lot. Using two interesting methods of data collection [i.e. semi-structured and literature review], i was able to gain informal access to these farmers, and lots of them opened up on their challenges and how they have exhausted their traditonal methods of coping with the changes they have observed in the climate.
Many farmers went back in history as far back as their childhood days, and they were able to give me a clear picture of how they have observed the decline in rainfall, increase in temperature, increase in pest infestation over the years, making it easy for me to even draw up a time-line for each farmers. To my surprise, there were correlations in the time-lines drawn up for these different farmers who practically spend all their years in rural farming [10 farmers in total or say n=10]. The farmers went back in time, giving me specifics on their experience with climate change over the years with illustrations based on their experience as villagers. The youngest of these farmers was 37 years old, while the oldest is about 80 years old.
These farmers have been productive all their lives, they have always produced for our farm-markets and in recent years they are all struggling with decline in agricultural productivity and depreciation in quality of living. All these from personal and standardized research pointed to some key things that ranges from bad socio-economic policies which is man-made to climate change that can be categorized as a natural phenomena.
Please note, article will focus on the aspect of Climate Change
The research revealed that climate change is increasingly affecting the agricultural operations in the areas studied, and farmers are unfortunately running out of their traditional options of adapting to this natural phenomena.
All the farmers showed and described to me all the methods they have engaged over the years, and how these traditional methods themselves are becoming old fashioned and facing resistant to the uncontrollable weather change not suitable for their various crops. Its was in the process that i and my team/friends got to realize that rural farming in Nigeria has lots of ideas on its own to develop and modernize on, and probably export, and it was in the process that i also got to realize how rich our traditional farming is.
Farmers showed me various local irrigation methods and how their farming societies has been able to manage conflicts surrounding the built ones, and i myself saw the limitations of these methods while i also saw the beauty in it.
The southwest farmers have sadly recorded sharp decline in various crop production, while they also expressed the increasing confusion in their ability to monitor the weather using their traditional farming schedule that appears to be racing against time.
The relatively short period i spent in the study areas, made me see the looming problem of food crises and the increasing failures of national government to avert the problem.
Finally, inquiring further on the role of government on adapting to climate change in these areas made me realize the disconnect between the Nigerian people and the Nigerian government. All the farmers acknowledged absence of their local government in their effort, and they also confirmed the politicization of their few requests by some corrupt elements of the local governments. It was clear understanding the multiplier effects of these looming problems due to climate change has never been a priority of all the local governments, and i was shocked to confirm the lack of knowledge on the extent of the problems climate change has caused in the agricultural development of these areas. Research and documentations on climate change never existed, and the link between climate change and agriculture in these areas are not defined.
My intention to do some semi-structured interviews of the local government workers/leaders never came through with all efforts, and my effort to gather enough facts through literature reviews was also weakened by the lack of properly conducted research documents.
In conclusion, there are needs to re-institutionalize any approach to tackling climate change in Nigeria. There are needs for a dedicated institution with the sole responsibility of monitoring and tackling climate change, efficient enough to coordinate micro, rural based operations professionally and proactively.
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Our New organization as part of our effort to bring sustainability to the mainstream in Nigeria introduced the first magazine in Nigeria to solely focus on sustainable development issues. We were encouraged by a few organizations while others ignorantly felt the sustainability was far from the mainstream, and still not a marketable topic in Nigeria.
We are now using this medium to re-introduce this product to Nigerians, while we take our fight back to the grass-root. We understand this will be a tough fight, but we are ready to push it through because we strongly believe in the concept of sustainability, and we understand that it holds so many princples and ideas that will liberate the nations of the future.
This new blog has been created in our effort to introduce the concept of sustainability to Nigerians. In addition to our efforts on twitter, this free-blog will be a great platform to share our opinion on what sustainability is, what sustainability has done in other countries, and how engagements with sustainability has added value to socio-economic development.
Our blog will welcome short contributions from sustainability enthusiasts to make it reader friendly, and will also be a platform to share ideas spontenously.
Its important to also highlight that sustainability as a concept has several dimensions or in personal opinion has several elements. These elements includes amongst others, national and global politics, social and economic aspects, leadership and governance, environment (important aspects), accountability/transparency etc. So discussions on this blog will give room to topics relating to all the mentioned aspects of sustainability.
Please note, this is not a “know-all” blog, and we are subject to corrections.
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