OrderPaperToday – A House of Representatives member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia North/South federal constituency, Mr. Sam Onuigbo, has taken the campaign on the need for Nigeria to shift to renewable energy to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Onuigbo was one of the panelists at the 2020 Legislators Forum of the 10th Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency which held at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from 10th to 12th January, 2020.
He also advocated for more inclusion of women in the renewable energy sector.
The former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Climate Change in the immediate past assembly also delivered a speech on ‘Measures to improve women’s engagement in the renewables sector’ at the forum.
Presenting an overview of the renewable energy sector in Nigeria, he highlighted the numerous challenges it is faced with, ranging from distribution to business profitability and funding.
The representative of Nigeria at the global forum explained that while “It is easy to generate solar or hydro in some areas, ability to distribute is a challenge.”
He continued, “Secondly, some people find it difficult to make these things available because they consider their option in banking and investments, they check their return on investments to be and then, they choose other options.
“Funding is critical. Availability of critical infrastructure is also important. These are critical challenges that are facing our efforts to make sure we make these things available.”
Onuigbo also spoke on strategies for getting legislations related to the sector passed by the various assemblies, saying success depends largely on cooperation among fellow lawmakers.
He buttressed this point by saying that when he sponsored a bill on Climate Change while serving as chairman of the House Committee on Climate Change, he ensured that he involved other lawmakers in the process, as well as the private sector players.
Though the bill was denied presidential assent, it has been reworked and resent for assent, he added.
“I think having said all these, I would like to talk about the importance of having a law enacted. In the 8th assembly, I sponsored a bill on Climate Change and the bill passed through all the stages and went for assent but the assent was denied because of some issues which were communicated to us and that brings me back to the issue of working across party. I have reworked the bill and resent it for assent.
“When you work together as a team, you are likely to identify those that have the potential to obstruct or hinder what you want to achieve. For me, the political will is important because if you talk about leaders who talk about certain things just to impress but when it comes to actual implementation, you then discover that even when it is not advertised, that conflict and interests are beginning to obstruct their decisions. We have to continue to pressure our leaders.”
“When we are sponsoring bills, there is need to bring almost everyone in, getting the private sector to get involved. In sponsoring the bill on Climate Change, we said we are going to work on a ratio of 40:60; 40% of whatever money that is available to the government and 60% of the money should be accessed from the private sector that has good initiatives on issues like renewable energy.”
The vice president (Africa) of Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE), also advocated at the event for inclusion of women in the sector to ensure its success.
The lawmaker explained that the inclusion of women would lead to attaining set goals faster as they are known to excel in causes they are dedicated to.
He recalled that during his re-election campaign, he relied heavily on women to rally for votes in his constituency, noting that they have the potential to make situations better.
“They are the people who make it possible for us to run for office. If you check the statistics of women who vote for you to be elected across the world, you will discover they are always more in number than the men. I will also bring it to the church. My father once said, if you go to the church and see more men than women, you better assess that church.
“So, women are the backbone of whatever we are doing. If we want to create groups and get them involved, and reposition them as far as this challenge is concerned, then this is time to capture them. At home, I have communities from which I ran for office but I know it is my work with the women that made it possible for the communities to know what I have been doing over time.
“My relationship with mothers and also attending their meetings, I have been doing that since 2000, they have seen that you mean well, and, therefore, when you interact with them, you will know their concerns. I have always involved women and it has helped me even in my re-election,” he explained.
Going further, he informed the gathering of legislators that the initiative to diversify from the use of firewood in his community was as a result of the sensitisation of women.
“Women are eager to impress because they have the potential. Once they have heard about this, they would want to look for alternatives,” Onuigbo added.