It is a known fact that journalists face challenges in covering climate change issues ranging from difficulties in accessing experts to speak to, and understanding climate change terminology as it’s being considered to be too technical, thus making it hard for journalists to understand and correctly relay the message to the public.
This is because their capacities have not been enhanced to receive and dissect climate change-related information from an ordinary person’s perspective.
It is on this note that Natural Resource Governance Institute and BudgIT, together with the Dune Newspaper, took a step to organise and build the capacities of journalists on a one-day capacity workshop with the theme, “Energy Transition: Setting Agenda for Clean Economy at Sub-National Level”, which resource persons from Well of Science, Clement Isong Foundation, and Development Research and Synergy Initiative were on hand to furnish journalists on the need to effectively report renewable energy to enable states to plan towards meeting the targeted energy transition period of 2030 and 2050.
The training which was held at the NUJ Press Centre, Information Drive, Uyo with about 30 journalists in attendance, provided a forum for interaction between representatives of government and resource persons who are experts in the energy transition sector.
Speaking at the event, Commissioner for Information, Comrade Ini Ememobong, while addressing participants, said the training was timely as it availed stakeholders the opportunity to ask the right questions and seek answers that would redirect the thoughts of government and individuals towards the planned energy transition.
Comrade Ememobong made a case for the National Assembly to rise to its responsibility of putting together appropriate legislation, stressing that though the proposed energy transition is humongous, a successful switch will be better for the poorest of the poor in Nigeria.
In a paper presentation on the theme; “Energy Transition: Setting Agenda for a Clean Economy at Sub National Level”, the Executive Director, Well of Science Foundation, Mr. Mfon Gabriel examined the dangers of being left behind in the ongoing Energy Transition Plans, ETP and urged states to strongly consider keying into the nation’s Energy Transition Plans rather than rely on fossil fuels that are gradually being phased out.
He outlined the consequences of ill-preparedness on energy transition to include; loss of revenue, inability to meet financial obligation to creditors, increased borrowing and indebtedness, increase in unemployment, loss of investment in the state, increased poverty and insecurity, as well as stranded assets in communities.
In Akwa Ibom State, the Well of Science Executive Director noted that the A.R.I.S.E Agenda of Governor Umo Eno does not have a plan for energy transition and a renewable clean economy.
“Akwa Ibom State Government is not prepared for the energy transition. Its MTEF and the Umo Eno Arise Agenda do not speak to Energy Transition. There is no fiscal document in Akwa Ibom State that aligns itself with Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan. Akwa Ibom State Government is not aligning itself to climate change decisions across the world in spite of having representatives in previous COP.”
Having noted that these severe consequences will lead to a very bleak future if nothing is done to mitigate or arrest the situation, Mr Gabriel suggested that the State Government can have a vision of becoming the first and largest cleantech State in Nigeria and Africa.
According to him, “As journalists and civil society activists, we can advocate to the Akwa Ibom State Government to do the following: Develop a strong stable government policy speaking to SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy, SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and SDG 13 (Climate Action) Localize the Nigeria Energy Transition Plan for Akwa Ibom State. Invest in Research and Development on clean and renewable energy.”
On his part, the State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State Council, Comrade Amos Etuk expressed his delight that the training was deepening the conversation on climate change, which was the theme of the recently concluded press week.
He expressed confidence that training journalists in the state will result in better reportage, as they will be well equipped to build up editorials and articles, drive narratives on proper implementation of the Petroleum Industry Law, and set agenda for policymakers on enforcing action against harmful practices that compound effects of climate change in the country.
On his part, training facilitator, Comrade Abasifreke Effiong of the Dune Newspaper, informed that the workshop was aimed at bridging the knowledge gap on issues of energy transition as discussions thicken at global space towards achieving the 2050 target.
The training came to a close with the formation of an advocacy group called “MEDIA ADVOCACY GROUP ON ENERGY TRANSITION (MAGET) AKWA IBOM STATE” which issued a communique, calling on the Akwa Ibom State Government to domesticate the National Energy Transition plan and strive to achieve SDGs 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and 13 (Climate Action).