- Nigeria Should Stop Playing Catch-up, Says ‘Friends of the Earth Nigeria’
In spite of the growing concerns around the world on how to cut down on the dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, the Nigerian Senate on Wednesday rejected a bill that sought to phase out the use of petrol cars and introduce electric cars on Nigerian roads by the year 2035.
The bill presented by Ben-Murray Bruce, a Senator from Bayelsa — an oil-producing state in the Nigeria’s Niger Delta region was first read on the 10th of April and it aims to replace petrol and diesel vehicles with electric cars in the next 16 years.
The rejection of bill is something that flies against the 2015 commitment by Nigeria and 194 nations at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris to halt the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C, above pre-industrial levels, limiting it to 1.5°C.
Asides the worries coming from the use of fossil-fuel powered cars and generators, Nigeria’s position as Africa’s biggest oil producer makes her to top the list of the highest contributors to global warming on the continent.
To many climate activists, it will be another retrogressive step in the effort to combat climate change as the bill was never approved for a second reading because the Senate considered it irrelevant. More so, for the umpteenth time, the Senate’s decision laid to bare how officials at different levels of the Nigerian government had continued to treat climate change issues with kid gloves, leaving it for the future generations to deal with.
Reacting to the bill’s rejection by the Nigerian Senate, the Head of Communications, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Mr. Philip Jakpor, stated that the carbon model is phasing out globally and Nigeria must tag along. He went on to observe that “the lawmakers may be kicking against it (the bill) because they’re benefitting from oil today, but by the time the whole world has moved on, they would have no option than to move. For instance, look at the GSM example.”
“But it will not be good for us to start playing catch-up with other countries in the future when we can actually start early to put those things in check,” Jakpor told The New Diplomat.
Meanwhile, Senator Ben-Murray had said the introduction of electric cars in the country will help Nigeria actualise a clean energy policy, encourage the use of modern technology, de-emphasise on oil consumption, and also reduce air pollution.
“Combustion engine cars have continued to cause death through uncontrolled pollution. Secondly, we have been spending over N1 trillion annually subsiding fuel in this country.
“By introducing electric cars, fuel subsidy will automatically be gone and those funds will be used for infrastructure and education,” the senator said.
He continued: “Electric cars are out selling petrol cars as witnessed in Norway a few weeks ago. It makes more sense to build Nigeria’s biggest power plant than refineries.”
Senator Ben-Murray further argued that maintaining an electric car is far cheaper than petrol cars . “This is because the country would finally make use of its abundant sunshine to power the cars.”
According to him, combustion cars were causing pollution and contributing to global warming and developed countries are gradually phasing them out. He noted that phasing out petrol cars would help fight the twin environmental menace of global warming and air pollution.
Latest report from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2018 had estimated the total number of fossil-fuel powered vehicles in the country at about 11.7 million with commercial vehicles holding about 58.08 per cent of the number.
However, while coming down hard on the bill, Senator Jibrin Barau said there was “no need to make any law compelling Nigerians to use electric cars at a particular period.”
He said in view of the economic strength of individual Nigerians, it would be unwise to come up with such legislation.
Also, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said it would affect Nigeria’s economy as an oil-producing country.
Following the harsh criticisms suffered by the bill, Ben-Murray later withdrew it after his colleagues managed to prevail on him to do so.