The Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria) in collaboration with Spaces for Change and Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) engages community stakeholders in Rivers State on Just Energy Transition in Nigeria.

The event which held at Gio community in Tai Local Government Area on Tuesday, January 31 was the second in the series after it also took place the previous day in Emeyal 2 community in Bayelsa State.(Jecinta Mbamara giving a goodwill message at the event)

In her goodwill message declaring the event open, Spaces for Change represented by Jecinta Mbamara said the project is aimed at creating awareness about just energy transition plans in Nigeria and for community folks to know how it is going to impact them and the need for their involvement in the plans for the government and other stakeholders. She said by 2060, Nigeria is expected to transit from fossil fuel to gas which is Nigeria’s energy transition fuel and that the fossil fuel that they have would no longer be useful thus, there was the need for the government and oil companies to address the ills of the fossil fuel era before major shift to a new energy source.

Speaking during the event, the Executive Director of YEAC-Nigeria, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface started by thanking the community leadership for accepting to host the event and the people for turning out in their numbers for the event. (The community engagement facilitator and Executive Director, YEAC-Nigeria, Fyneface Dumnamene speaking and sensitizing participants at the event)

He said a report titled “Energy Transition in Nigeria’s Oil-Rich Communities” has been published under the project and the sensitization was being derived from the findings. He told the participants that the event was part of activities in “EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRY AND CLIMATE CHANGE GOVERNANCE PROJECT” being implemented by YEAC-Nigeria with funding support from ACEP with part of the objectives is to advocate for the inclusion of community stakeholders and those engaged in act of artisanal crude oil refineries in the informal and illegal sector in the national transition plan to be it a “Just” exercise that leaves no one behind. Hence the slogan “FROM EXCLUSION TO INCLUSION IN NATIONAL JUST TRANSITION PLAN”. Sensitizing the community stakeholders further, Mr. Fyneface spoke about what a just transition should look like and stated that it should;

  • Environmental injustices endured by oil communities must be resolved first before major shifts away from oil are implemented.
  • A clear road map for righting the wrongs of the fossil fuel era in extractive communities must be provided.
  • National and corporate-led energy agenda should address the flaws of the fossil fuel economy before transition.
  • Involvement of local communities must be prioritized in the green economy.
  • Alternative livelihood schemes should be made available in communities with a concentration of artisanal refining. 

Elaborating the key points from the published report further as also contained on the IEC materials printed, the Facilitator further explained that “COMMUNITIES SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN ENERGY TRANSITION THROUGH:

  • Having spaces and direct and indirect platforms for debates and engagements on the energy transition models proposed.
  • Incentivizing the local youth to explore other legitimate low-income generating alternatives.
  • Community-based monitoring and evaluation for compliance with contracts and agreements.
  • Making skills and jobs available for communities”

(Cross section of participants at the stakeholders/community engagement in Gio)

In the area of women in relation to just energy transition, Mr. Fyneface said women Women are key stakeholders in energy efficiency and environmental sustainability initiatives; They have borne the brunt of environmental and economic damages of the fossil fuel era and they should be involved, included and their voices heard in energy decision-making in the green economy. 

The community folks, now aware of the energy transition plans asked questions and made comments about the plans and got responses.

A woman asking question on how she can be able to cook when there will be no kerosene that she uses to start her firewood cooking again if there is a transition to gas as she does not have money to buy and use a gas cooker. A youth spoke and said he was an artisanal refiner and that Government should give the Modular Refineries promised them as alternative livelihood opportunity so that they can carry out legitimate refining of the crude oil in their community under their soil before it becomes obsolete following the planned transition to gas. A community elder speaking at the event. He said there is no ‘big man’ in their community who will go about following up with government on the Just Energy Transition so that the benefits will come to them and in that case, what can the NGOs do to make sure that his community do not lose out of the benefits of Just Energy Transition like they have been losing out of other development opportunities due to lack of someone to speak for them. Responding after general laughter in the hall over his comments, the Facilitator and Executive Director of YEAC-Nigeria, Fyneface Dumnamene said the community has big men and he is one of the big men and spokesman of the community by virtue of the comments and advocacy he had just made. He was also told that with the presence of the media at the event to take his concerns to the appropriate authorities, he should be rest assured that the community, being an oil-rich community will not be excluded but included in the Just Energy Transition Plans which is the essence of the stakeholders/community engagement.

Highlight of the event was the unveiling and distribution of stickers and fliers with messages that spoke to the summary of the project activity. The fliers and stickers unveiled and distributed are;

(A cross section of participants after the community engagement in Gio community, Rivers State)