Today, the Senior Executive Course 45, 2023 of the National Institute for Policy & Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Study Group 5 on Study Tour of Akwa Ibom State led by Prof. Dung Pam Sha, Director of Studies and Leader of the Delegation; Brig-Gen W.D. Nasiru, Team Lead and Directing Staff; and Group Captain Mohammed Farouk Borgu, Group Chairman invited the Center For Human Rights & Accountability Network (CHRAN) for an interaction on the theme; Industrialization, Climate Change and Energy Security in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and Prospects. The interactive session held at the Conference Room of the Secretary to the State Government of Akwa Ibom State, Uyo.
Below is the presentation of CHRAN:
BEING A PRESENTATION BY THE CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS & ACCOUNTABILITY NETWORK (CHRAN) TO THE STUDY TEAM OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR POLICY AND STRATEGIC STUDIES, (NIPSS), KURU, AT THE CONFERENCE ROOM OF THE SECRETARY TO THE STATE GOVERNMENT OF AKWA IBOM STATE, ON THURSDAY, 6TH JULY, 2023, ON THE THEME: INDUSTRIALIZATION, CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY SECURITY IN NIGERIA: ISSUES, CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS.
The Center for Human Rights & Accountability Network (CHRAN) is a renowned internationally recognized non-governmental organization cum pro-democracy civil society group in Nigeria with the mandate of advocating for good governance through better legislation, people-oriented government programmes/policies, and perseveration of our democracy, in addition to human rights crusade and holding public office holders accountable to the people.
CHRAN notes that since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, Akwa Ibom State has made tremendous progress in all spheres, including the areas of industrialization, energy security and climate change. We can say that significant progress have been made in these areas but we need more concerted efforts to be made by the Government of Akwa Ibom State.
The second civilian governor of the state, Arc. (Obong) Victor Attah laid a solid foundation for the industrialization of the state by conceptualizing and executing projects that laid industrial foundation for the state.
CHRAN wishes to put on record and it must be noted that resources available in the state are more than enough to put the state as number one in the federation, if the resources had been effectively harnessed and judiciously utilized in the best interest of the state by successive administrations.
CHRAN, however, observes that the successive administrations, to wit; Obong Victor Attah (1999 to 2007), Senator Godswill Akpabio (2007 to 2015), and Mr. Udom Emmanuel (2015 to 2023) had made deliberate efforts to industrialize the state as a way of creating jobs and boosting its economic activities in their own rights.
For example, the Victor Attah’s administration initiated some life-touching projects like; the Ibom Deep Seaport, Ibom Power Plant, Victor Attah International Airport and the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility, Ibom Icon and Golf Resort, the Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU) to name a few. The Godswill Akpabio’s administration while consolidating on his predecessor’s projects, added: the Godswill Akpabio’s International Stadium, Ibom E-Library, Ibom Tropicana, Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, amongst others. The Udom Emmanuel’s administration while consolidating on the projects of his predecessors – Attah and Akpabio, added to the industrialization of the state. His administration birthed the Ibom Airlines, the first state owned airline reputed to be the best in the Nigerian state. The administration also constructed the international wing of the Ibom International Airport, MRO and terminal building and runways to pave way for regional airline activities.
The Udom Emmanuel’s administration secured all the federal government licenses and approvals needed for the take-off of the Ibom Deep Seaport – one project that will see the state becoming a regional hub for maritime activities. Under the Udom Emmanuel’s administration, the state witnessed the influx of industries such as the Metering Solution Factory, King’s Flour Mills, Saint Gabriel Coconut Factory, Jubilee Syringe Factory, Vehicle Assembly Plant, Oil Palm Processing Plant, etc. Akwa Ibom State became the second state after Lagos with the highest number foreign direct investments. There was the opening of the Market Square (Ibom Tropicana) and 21 storey Dakkada Smart Building to provide befitting office accommodation for investors.
Climate change is real and a global event. What affects the rest of the world affects Akwa Ibom too. As an oil producing state, a lot of gas flaring, emission, among others arises from the operations of the oil companies. We are already seeing the effects of climate change on the people and the economic activities. These effects include water, land and air pollution leading to destruction of aquatic life, arable land for agriculture and unhealthy air. Also, there are issues of extreme weather events, such as flooding, gully erosion, severe storms, and rising sea levels, leading to homelessness, poverty, conflicts, etc.
In Uyo, the state capital, for example, in spite of multi-billion-naira pipe jacking drainage system at strategic locations including the IBB flood control system put in place by the Udom Emmanuel’s administration assisted by World Bank, flooding still persists at IBB Avenue.
Areas worst hit by reoccurring ravaging flood incidents include: Abak Road, Nkemba street, Michael Abraham off Nkemba street; Oron Road by Uruan street; IBB Way by Ukpong Ebet and Akpa Ebet streets; Dominic Utuk (Brooks) street by Gibbs street; middle of Nsentip street; Udo Eduok street; Ikot Ekpene Road near former AKTC Park; Ibom Plaza; Ewet Housing Estate, Shelter Afrique Estate, Osongama Estate, Atiku Abubakar Avenue, Ukana Offot street, Obio Imo street, Nwaniba road, Aka road by IBB junction, Nsikak Eduok Avenue, among others are gradually being lost to effects of flooding.
There is need to actively respond to natural disaster and monitor the weather to be able to take proactive actions because prevention is better than occur. If we are able to monitor the weather, we should be able to predict the outcome and put in place better steps towards integration. Protecting and sustaining the development of forests and reduction in emissions will help a great deal. Planting and replacing trees also need to be encouraged.
Reviewing of environmental policy and establishment of a full fledge climate change Agency managed by professionals, people who are more knowledgeable in climate integration and adaptation is key.
Frequent and timely evacuation of refuse from our drainage system and on our streets and roads by the government agency responsible with the assignment will go a long way to reduce flooding in the state capital.
Climate change is putting energy security at risk in Akwa Ibom State. Climate change directly affects fuel supply, energy production as well as the physical resilience of current and future energy infrastructure. Heatwaves and droughts are already putting existing energy generation under stress, making it even more important to reduce fossil fuel.
To generate her own power to meet her energy needs, the Akwa Ibom State government established a power-generating company called Ibom Power Company which generates over 100MW of electricity. To further boost the capacity, the following sub-stations were built and put into use by the Udom Emmanuel’s administration:
• 33/11KV, 2 X 15MVA injection sub-station in Uyo, the state capital;
• 33/11KV, 2 X 15MVA substation to provide dedicated grid power supply to the state-owned Victor Attah International Airport;
• 132/33KV, 1 x 60MVA transformer at Afaha Ube in Uyo; and
• 132/33KV, 2 x 60MVA transmission substation at Ekim Town in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area.
To independently manage its power resources and distribute them effectively, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has approved an independent power distribution network license to be known as Ibom Utility Company for Akwa Ibom state, to distribute electricity in selected locations in the state. This will boost distribution of energy generated by Ibom Power Plant and managed by Ibom Power Company.
The major challenge of the energy sector in the state remains that of vandalism of facilities, constant collapse of the national grid, dearth of energy infrastructure, lack of robust policy on distribution.
1) The state should explore the abundant renewable energy resources and the innovative energy technologies.
2) Domesticate the Climate Change Act 2021, enacted by the Federal Government, by ensuring implementation of Energy Transition Plan to allow for significant investment opportunities such as; the establishment and expansion of industries related to solar energy, hydrogen, and electric vehicles.
3) One important ways of reducing the impact of climate change is the adoption of waste to wealth initiative. The state currently produces over 20,000 tonnes of wastes daily. Government should partner relevant firms for the conversion of waste to electricity, fuels, heat, recyclables, value-added products, and chemicals. This will also lead to wealth and job creation.
4) The Government of Akwa Ibom State under Pastor Umo Eno’s administration should as a matter of necessity, come up with a deliberate industrialization policy in order to galvanize the gains recorded by the previous administrations. The benefits of foreign direct investments should be translated into wealth and job creation as well as boost the economic activities of the state.
5) To solve the issue of climate change in the state, three nature-based solutions to adopt are: agroforestry, improved forest management, and forest restoration.
6) We must replace coal, oil, and gas with renewable and efficient energy sources. Solar energy from all year round abundant sunlight has become the norm.
For and on behalf of Center for Human Rights & Accountability Network
Otuekong Franklyn Isong