According to this newspape, LEADERSHIP, in its report on Sunday, no fewer than 1,411 Nigerian delegates, registered to participate at the 28th Climate Change Summit in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
The report cited Carbon Brief, a UK-based website that reports the latest developments in climate science, climate policy and energy policy which published an analysis of the list of participants that showed Nigeria with the third highest number of registered delegates.
This paper in the report also noted that apart from the cost of flying and parking the presidential jet in the United Arab Emirates for the duration of the conference, hundreds of millions of Naira would be needed for flight tickets for the majority who could not squeeze themselves into the presidential jet, adding that many more millions of Naira would also be needed for accommodation and feeding in Dubai, a city known to be one of the most expensive cities in the world.
The LEADERSHIP report also noted that an average ticket on Turkish and Ethiopian airlines is about $2,400 for a return ticket from Abuja to Dubai. With a prevailing rate of N1,160 at the parallel market, a return ticket would be about N2.78million according to this paper’s findings. Now multiply that by 1411, the number of delegates and you will arrive at the bank breaking figure of N3.923 billion for just flights alone.
This does not seem to be the right way for a cash strapped country to behave. Clearly, the large delegation will give a very wrong impression to the countries that we may be approaching for assistance and bailout. It is like a poor man killing a cow for his birthday while owing his Landlord rent.
The Denial Of Carbon Brief Report
However, a statement by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration said the government was not responsible for all the delegates. The Presidency on Sunday said only a handful of the 1,411 Nigerian delegates who registered to attend the COP28 Climate Summit, are sponsored by the Federal Government. It said, a bulk of the contingents comprised private sector players such as business people, civil society organisations and delegates from Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta region.
It also argued that the delegates are at the Summit to promote their respective causes and not for a jamboree. “It is important to state here that delegates from all countries, whether from government, private sector, media and civil society groups, attend COP summits and conferences as parties and the number of attendees are registered against their countries of origin. This does not mean they are sponsored or funded by the government,”! All these were in a statement signed by President Bola Tinubu’s Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Temitope Ajayi.
The defence put by the government would have made more sense if the government had given the actual number and names of the Federal Government delegation to the summit.
However, a report published by Punch on Sunday claimed that the federal government nominated at least 589 delegates to attend this COP28 Climate Change Summit in Dubai.
The fact remains that whether it is 1,411 or 589 federally funded delegates as reported by Punch, the numbers are outrageous. As we say in business, what are the cost benefit analysis of this horrendous spending?
With the exorbitant cost involved, with each delegate costing Nigeria approximately $2,400 on a return ticket from Abuja to Dubai, serious questions are being raised about our government’s sensitivity to the plight of its citizens. This fact emphasizes the urgent need to address the cost of governance, by aligning most resources to national development and citizen welfare. As we say in local parlance, “man when never see food chop no dey select meat.”
The over thousand delegates registered in Nigeria’s name to that international summit, at significant expenses, reflects a misalignment of priorities with the current realities faced by ordinary Nigerians. There are many unconfirmed reports that the number is actually higher than registered as many did not even bother to attend the Summit’s opening ceremony. This columnist sincerely hopes that that is not the case.
The Climate Summit Is A Noble Cause
The climate summit is a noble cause. Undoubtedly, addressing climate change is a global imperative. Participation in international forums is crucial for every nation including ours. It is such fora that we can contribute to and benefit from sustainable solutions for the sake of humanity as a whole. However, the optics of such a massive delegation, coupled with the financial burden it imposes on a country facing economic hardship, raises ethical questions.
The World Climate Action Summit is an opportunity for nations to collaborate on environmental solutions. It is indeed a welcome event that is aimed at building worldwide consensus that may well save humanity. However, our nation’s 1,411 delegates to the summit underscores a disconnect between the government and the people. At a time when many Nigerians are grappling with hunger, unemployment, and inadequate access to basic amenities, such a huge delegation appears insensitive and incongruent with the principles of responsible democratic governance. After all, democracy which we ostensibly practice is partially defined as “government for the benefit of the people.”
The cost to the nation of the huge delegation could have been redirected to projects aimed at alleviating poverty, improving healthcare, and addressing pressing infrastructure deficits in Nigeria. This column thinks that such financial misallocation further emphasizes the need for a reevaluation of government spending priorities and overall policy thrust.
Call For A Lean And Responsible Governance
In light of the economic challenges facing the nation, it is imperative for the Nigerian government to exercise fiscal responsibility and prioritize the welfare of its citizens. A comprehensive review of governance costs is essential, with a commitment to streamline and cut down on unnecessary expenses. This involves not only scrutinizing international delegations but also addressing domestic expenditures, such as recurrent costs, allowances, and the overall size of government.
The need for prudent resource allocation cannot be overemphasized. Rather than burdening the already strained economy with unnecessary expenses, the government should channel resources towards initiatives that directly benefit the people. Investments in critical sectors such as education, healthcare, agriculture, and infrastructure will have a more meaningful impact on the lives of Nigerians.
Transparency And Accountability
To regain public trust, the government must prioritize transparency and accountability in financial matters. Detailed breakdowns of expenses, including allowances, accommodation, and miscellaneous costs for international delegations, should be made accessible to the public.
This transparency fosters a culture of accountability and ensures that citizens are informed about how their tax contributions are utilized. The large delegation to the World Climate Action Summit at such a significant cost reflects a lack of sensitivity to the economic realities faced by many Nigerians. It is imperative for the government to reassess its priorities and allocate resources responsibly. Cutting down on the cost of governance, increasing transparency, and redirecting funds towards critical sectors are crucial steps towards fostering a more equitable and sustainable future for Nigeria and its citizens.
As Nigerians get into the festive mood of Christmas, it is imperative that I urge my good friend, Nuhu Ribadu, the able National Security Adviser, NSA to redouble his efforts at securing Nigeria and Nigerians. The news is awash with increasing kidnapping activities across the country. Can we employ drone technology rather than the failed strategy of roadblocks. Criminals tend to use bush tracks rather than roads, so, the road blocks achieve very little indeed. Drones and real time satellite surveillance is the way to go.
MAY NIGERIA REBOUND