Nigeria is phasing out fossil fuels as part of its climate commitments to achieve net zero by 2060. Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan (ETP)  developed as a pathway towards realizing the set target adopts natural gas as Nigeria’s transition fuel to aid the process of phasing out carbon-polluting fuels like crude oil. Meeting this target will put an end to Nigeria’s historical dependence on crude oil. National energy transition plans are silent on communities who have borne the brunt of fossil fuel extraction for several decades and whose livelihoods are dependent on crude oil and local refining.  National transition plans and policies neither made arrangements for cleanup, remediation, compensation, and rehabilitation nor for addressing the massive environmental damage that has accompanied the country’s protracted dependence on fossil fuels.

Energy transition proposals by corporations retain the tradition of shallow commitments to communities. Oil and gas corporations have unveiled energy transition agendas that make veiled references to communities, but a deep scanning reveals shallow commitments that require little, if any, deviation from current corporate behavior and practices.  Communities want inclusion, participation, enforceable contracts, alternative livelihoods, and environmental justice in the green economy.  Oil-rich communities want to play an active role, and not be relegated to mere spectators and recipients of handoutspacked as corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiativesin the green economy.

Community support for energy transition is conditioned on the presentation of a clear and predictable roadmap for righting the wrongs that fossil fuels have done to extractive communities.  From the community perspective, a just transition also means recognizing the gender-differentiated impacts of hydrocarbons and the availability of adequate remedies for these impacts.

To prevent a repeat of the mistakes of the fossil fuel economy, Nigeria needs to dismantle the governmental grip on natural resources, with the attendant centralized systems for resource governance. To leapfrog into prosperity in the green economy, a phased wind-down of economic dependence on the center, giving states the autonomy to manage their own natural and renewable resources is imperative. The new report is downloadable here, ENERGY TRANSITION IN NIGERIA’S OIL-RICH COMMUNITIES