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Amid planned petrol subsidy removal, Obasanjo says Nigeria must commit to renewable energy



Amid the unpopular plans by the Federal Government to raise electricity tariff in December and remove petrol subsidy next February, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that Nigeria must commit to generating power from renewable energy and clean carbon-free sources.

He stated this on Friday in his remarks at the formal inauguration of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library 2MW solar power project in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Nigerians mainly generate power for domestic and industrial use through electricity supplied by the distribution companies, which has been epileptic for years. The use of petrol and diesel to fuel generating sets has been an option adopted by many in the face of the power monstrous power challenges confronting Africa’s most populous nation with over 200 million people.

However, the Federal Government recently announced its plans to remove subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit popularly called petrol beginning February 2022. The government also disclosed that it would pay N5,000 each to 40 million Nigerians to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal, a move that has been widely criticised.

According to the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari, petrol would sell for between N320 and N340 per litre from February 2022.

The current pump price of petrol at filling stations is between N162 and N165/litre, although the product is mostly sold at the upper N165/litre rate due to recent challenges in the downstream oil sector.

Similarly, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has said that it would review the country’s power tariffs by next month, barring any unforeseen. This means electricity users would pay more when this is implemented.

Many Nigerians have lamented the untold hardship and reactionary inflation the development would bring as the Nigeria Labour Congress and other pressure groups have voiced their grievances but the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has been unyielding despite the public outcry.

At the launch of the solar project on Friday, Obasanjo, who was Nigeria’s democratically elected President from 1999 to 2007 and military head of state between 1976 and 1979, said renewable energy is cheaper and good for the environment.

He said, “Today, I am speaking to you in a facility powered by the sun – solar energy. It is the way of a future Carter envisioned all those years ago. It will help build the future we want. The Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library solar power project is a reflection of our commitment to clean and renewable energy and is the single largest investment this not-for-profit organization has made.

“As large an investment as it is, it is remarkably cost effective. It costs less than two and half years supply of diesel to power our generators. So in diesel terms it pays for itself in less than 3years. So in effect the electricity it produces after three years is almost at no cost.

“In addition, because it is not emitting any green houses gases that diesel generators do, it has the potential to earn carbon credits which are currently priced at US$ 40/ton.

“Based on estimated annual production of 2,307,000 kilo Watt hours per year, we can expect to earn nearly US$39,589 in carbon credits per year.

“By monetizing this facility with strategic sponsorships and marketing alliances we will be able to generate revenue.

“Combined, this solar facility can generate electricity, generate revenues that contribute to the upkeep of the library, help save the planet making a small contribution to climate mitigation and adaptation, provide shade for parking, and be an inspiration for future generations. Who says you can’t make a profit out of saving the planet?”

Obasanjo, 84, said that he is a responsible steward for nature, adding that the  “facility marks one of the enduring personal legacies I am proud to be call my own.”

Continuing, the ex-president said, “The recently concluded UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) was attended by over 1,000 universities from 68 countries, who witnessed powerful speeches and renewed commitments to reach Net Zero emissions by 2050, in some cases 2060 and in Nigeria’s case 2070. This is the best time for all Nigerian universities to sign-up to the United Nations’ Race to Zero campaign, and commit to reducing their carbon emissions to zero by 2050 at the latest.

“We hope that by committing to consume renewable energy we inspire others to follow and still inform others to do their bit for the environment. Our great nation also needs to commit to producing our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources. This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Nigerians – in every walk of life, to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen.

“This is a generational moment. I’m asking each of you to join me and build this future. Our success depends on our willingness as a people to undertake this journey. We have a duty of care to the planet and to every person upon it. We must fulfill it by making our energy system clean, efficient, affordable and sustainable.”

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