In the run-up to Nigeria’s historic 2023 general elections, the campaign agendas of presidential hopefuls have paid less attention to issues of climate change and environmental concerns in the country. Against this backdrop, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) in collaboration with other leading civil society organizations hosted a presidential town hall meeting on February 7, 2023, to interrogate the programmes of presidential candidates on climate and environmental issues.
The forum attracted over 150 participants and provided a crucial opportunity for aspiring leaders from four political parties in the country to present their vision and strategies to address environmental issues and climate change, ahead of Nigeria’s pivotal polls scheduled for February 25 and March 11, 2023. Presidential candidates in attendance at the meeting included Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC), Dumebi Kachikwu of African Democratic Congress (ADC), Adewole Adebayo of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali who represented the party’s presidential candidate, Rabiu Kwankwaso.
Moderated by prominent professionals, including Prof. Sheriff Ghali and ace broadcasters Nkoli Omhodu and Edmund Obilo, the meeting began with candidates being questioned on their plans to improve the environmental well-being of Nigerians.
AAC candidate, Omoyele Sowore promised to increase access to clean electricity, thereby reducing the country’s reliance on fuel-powered generators and limiting carbon emissions. He also promised to remediate the environments of host communities across the country suffering from the impacts of oil exploration and gas flaring.
Kachikwu pledged to fund more local research to develop homegrown solutions to managing climate change while utilizing Nigeria’s natural energy resources in more sustainable ways. He also promised to promote clean drilling and end the routine of gas flaring by creating an investment-friendly climate for the product and making defaulters pay heavy fines. Kachikwu also promised to dredge more rivers to prevent perennial floods, relocate flood victims from low-lying areas to higher ground, and empower citizens with critical information on environmental issues.
On the other hand, Adewole Adebayo vowed to harmonize the country’s social and natural environments in ways that would promote Afrocentric and healthier lifestyles. He also highlighted the impact of the operations of big oil corporations on vulnerable areas and communities in the country and the mission of his government to demand compensation and always place the interest of citizens above profits and global investments. Adebayo noted that the SDP would work on the twin principles of environmental justice and social equality to promote a healthier and sustainable Nigeria that benefits all citizens.
Speaking on the NNPP’s mandate for the environment, Prof. Alkali emphasized the party’s commitment to enhancing sustainable agriculture and driving economic growth through the effective management of land and food production systems and distribution of locally produced fertilizers that align with the country’s environment and people.
The very engaging meeting concluded with reactions and questions from members of the audience to the presidential candidates on their plans for managing the environment. In their closing remarks, the candidates agreed on the need to promote a greener and safer environment for all citizens, pledging to manage the resources of the country judiciously if elected.