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Nigeria can produce alternative energy to power the economy, Gov Segun Oni

The governor of Ekiti State, Segun Oni, is the national project champion of Green Energy Society of Nigeria (GESON). He spoke at the green economy investiture, held in Ekiti, on renewable energy initiative and what Nigeria stands to benefit from massive investments in biofuels production.

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Renewable energy is now a global issue and developed
nations see the sector as a lucrative one capable of turning around other sectors of an economy. As the national project champion of Green Energy Society of Nigeria, what will be your immediate priorities at ensuring that Nigeria moves on track with advanced economies?

Green Energy Society of Nigeria (GESON) is a society whose primary objective touches every aspect of the economy and human existence, be it health, culture and socio-economic development. I will work in collaboration with its leadership to deepen and broaden their reach, in a manner that allows the society to become well entrenched nationally. Here in Ekiti, we are investing so much in renewable energy sector to open up the economy for jobs creation, revenue generation and significant economic growth.

We will collaborate with all focal ministries, departments and agencies of government to harness resources and create awareness on global warming, how we can mitigate it and help those adversely affected to adapt to its consequencies. I will impress on the constituted authorities at both the executive and legislative arms of government the need to create an enabling environment that permits green economy of our dream to thrive. We must ensure that world attention is focused on the plight of Nigerians who bear the brunt of devastating effects of the phenomenon. We must all speak with one voice to be able to attract global support in our efforts to reduce Nigeria’s carbon footprint and alleviate the suffering of our people.

What do you see as the prospects and possibilities of developing a green economy in Nigeria?
The prospects of a green economy development in Nigeria are very bright. Although people may not know it, GESON members are already leading the way. For example, here in Ekiti, we are presently working with GESON members who will soon start producing bio-ethanol and bio-diesel from agricultural feedstocks. Our dams at Itapaji, Ero, Egbe and Ureje are to be developed to generate hydro electric power. Some members are engaged in energy efficiency projects across the country. The Omotosho and Papalanto gas powered electricity plants were designed and built by GESON.

Some of their members are daily producing bio-diesel for MTN to run their transmission stations. If you drive around the streets of Ado, you will see the pervasiveness of our solar powered street lights. Gas flaring will soon become history in Nigeria, thanks to the gas master plan, which I am proud to say has the indelible footprints of an Ekiti State indigene. So, with these developments, Nigeria is well on the way to a vibrant green economy that will fast track development in other sectors of the economy.

We cannot continue to depend on the fossil economy forever. Fossil is responsible for global warming, so we have to produce alternative energy that will power the economy without harming our environment. For Nigeria to achieve the Vision 20: 2020, we must move forward like the developed nations.

Experts are of the opinion that Nigeria could benefit from $30bn carbon credit funds annually from alternative energy production, which is capable of mitigation carbon emission from the environment. What do you thing the authorities should do to support GESON?
First of all, the political will must be there if GESON must succeed.

Nigeria is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and must be seen to be doing something in that direction. Many countries that signed the protocol have introduced E10. Some have even gone up to E25. Brazil, which I visited recently, runs some of their vehicles with 100 per cent ethanol. We must have the political will to introduce our own E10 or even E5 blending of ethanol with fossil fuel to reduce carbon emission from our environment. We must also have the political will to pool our resources and appoint a body, commission or agency to take the lead and become the rallying point for all issues involving global warming together with its mitigation and adaptation.

Just like the Organised Private Sector (OPS) has done in creating GESON, government must also create a body that will work like GESON and collaborate with it. Such a body must include the environment, agriculture, petroleum resources, finance, science and technology, transportation, aviation, and even the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) must play a role in such agency.

Legislation is another critical element required for the sector to become successful. Without legislative backing, nothing will be achieved. There must be law that guides the systematic development of the sector. In my position as the National Green Project champion, I will strive to ensure that the sector receives vital support.

At the recent climate change conference in Copenhagen, Nigeria did not seem to have achieved anything. What do you think was responsible?

It will not be correct to say that Nigeria achieved nothing at Copenhagen. Nigeria presented a very strong case to support her demand for global assistance to combat and adapt to global warming conditions.  All we need to do now is codify the effects and the measures we are adopting to mitigate it. You must realise that we are also a nation of carbon emitter. There is no country on earth that is not emitting carbon dioxide.

The only difference is that some countries emit much more than others. We emit approximately 100million metric tonnes annually through gas flaring, road transportation, use of power generators, incandescent lamps, human wastes and deforestation. The carbon we emit as I have enumerated is measurable and can be reduced over time. We can show what measures we are putting in place to ensure that this reduction is happening in a sustainable manner and can be verified. Once we do this, we can be sure of a reciprocal response and support from the world body.

It will not be enough to go begging for assistance if we cannot demonstrate what we are doing or going to do to help ourselves. This, I believe, is one of the objectives for which GESON was set up. Next time another climate opportunity presents itself, I am sure Nigeria will be better prepared.

How are you going to ensure that quacks and opportunists are not allowed into a society where you are the national project champion?
Before I accepted to become the national project champion of GESON, I conducted a thorough due diligence and can assure you that the people behind the society are men and women of honour and integrity. They have an internal control system for policing their members to fish out quacks.


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