From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have charged communities devastated by oil pollution to seek environmental justice before resumption of oil exploration on their areas.
They have also tasked federal government to ensure that oil impacted communities are remediated, and alternative livelihoods provided for the people.
Also, the CSOs have urged federal government to involve oil and gas host communities and women in its energy transition action plan.
The Executive Director of Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria), Mr. Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, said youths must be given alternative livelihoods, while women who bear the brunt of fossil fuels should be involved in decision making
Fyneface spoke at Stakeholders and Community Engagement on Just Energy Transition in Gio, Tai Local Government Area of Rivers State, saying that sensitization was being carried out in Rivers, Bayelsa, Imo, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States, in partnership with Spaces for Change, with funding from Africa Centre for Energy Policy.
Fyneface said the engagement was imperative to sensitize the local communities on government policy of just energy transition, since the country has chosen gas as its energy transition fuel and that people should make contribution to be included in government policies.
He Said there should be spaces, direct and indirect platforms, for debates and engagements on the energy transition models proposed, while also advocating for skills and jobs to be made available for communities
Fyneface further advocated for incentivising the local youths to explore other legitimate low-income generating alternatives, as well as Community-based monitoring and evaluation for compliance with contracts and agreements.
He expressed: “We are here to let the people know that Nigeria is transiting from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources and that gas has been chosen as the energy fuel for the country to go to a cleaner and greener economy.
“We also called on the government to involve people along in the energy transition process for the country. The people are not involved and even women who are most impacted in oil pollution are not included.
“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. They should be involved, included and their voices
heard in energy decision-making in the green
“Environmental injustices endured by oil communities must be resolved first before major shifts away from oil are implemented. A clear roadmap 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 concentration of artisanal refineries.”
Earlier, Executive Director of Spaces for Change, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, represented by Assitant Programe Officer, Jecinta Mbamara, said there should be a clear roadmap for host communities before leaving fossil fuel to renewables.
“The purpose is to phase out from polluted fossil fuel to cleaner energy sources. Such as solar, wind, gas.
“There should be alternative livelihoods for the people since there is a value chain within the fossil fuel economy. As well as training of youths in alternative skills.
“You (community) must demand for a benefit of the oil you have now because if you don’t benefit form it now, oil will soon become obsolete, just like coal is now obsolete.
“If there is no alternative livelihoods, militancy, piracy, armed robbery will return. So it is important that the kpofire boys be trained and given alternative livelihoods.”