By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah
Being part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s delegation to any function outside the country is no pleasure trip at all. It entails that you must be up and doing to withstand the rigorous routine of the retired General. Trust an old soldier who, as the saying goes, never dies. The axiom, ‘once a soldier a always a soldier’, is quintessential of President Buhari. Once he is out for an official assignment that entails delivering the goodies for Nigerians, Buhari is ready to work round the clock, holding talks with relevant stakeholders of the international community on investment opportunities in Nigeria.
During the week, I was among the presidential delegation to the One Planet Summit in Paris. Two years ago, Nigeria signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which was ratified in June this year before Nigeria officially became a signatory to the Climate Change agreement.
On Monday morning we landed in Paris and the first thing that greeted us was the freezing cold weather, which was at four degrees. On our way from the airport, I reminiscently thought within myself that this was the city of Napoleon Bonaparte, Victor Hugo, Charles De Galle and presently the most expensive footballer of all time. Neymar who plays for Paris St German lives in Paris. Going through the city I remembered a quote by Ernest Hemingway, that “if you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you; for Paris is a moveable feast.”
That same evening, President Buhari landed in France and we went to receive him in his hotel in Paris. The hotel is a walking distance from the famous Eiffel Tower.
On Tuesday was the summit proper and as early as 6:00am we left for the venue of the event. After being screened at the gate, we made our way to the impressive Press Centre where about 2000 journalists from all over the world, accredited to cover the event, were being attended to.
One disappointing aspect of the conference was when the internet disappeared for close to two hours in the press room. A colleague of mine joked that maybe the person in charge of the internet is a Nigerian because he couldn’t understand why an international summit of this magnitude would be poorly organised in such a way that an essential working facility like the internet service keeps fluctuating at intervals. It is even more petrifying when it is considered that a journalist needs the internet like a junkie would pant for his next fix.
I was also fortunate to find my way into the hall of the Summit where the plenary was taking place. I was privileged to be in the same room with 50 heads of state and presidents who attended the global event. Business moguls like Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Micheal Bloomberg were also in attendance. Hollywood stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sean Penn were also in the hall. It was a humbling experience; while in the plenary hall, I waited for someone to wake me and tell me it was a pleasant dream that would soon unfold into a disappointing reality.
In his submission for Nigeria, President Buhari declared that some fundamental restructuring of the economy was required to fight climate change. He appealed to the international community to support Nigeria’s commitment to reducing the negative effects of Climate Change.
Speaking at the One Planet Summit in the French capital attended by over 60 Heads of State and Governments, as well as representatives of non-governmental and private organisations, with the theme, ‘Climate Change Financing’, the Nigerian president said, “We cannot implement our Nationally Determined Contribution without adequate financial, technical and capacity building support from the developed countries.”
Buhari noted that since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, Nigeria has been strengthening its national efforts towards the implementation of the Agreement and the Marrakech Call for Action. Recalling that Nigeria had already ratified the Paris Agreement in May 2017, President Buhari however said the country’s “Nationally Determined Contribution to reduce our emission by 20% by 2020 and 40% by 2030”, cannot be attained alone. According to him, “having just come out of recession, we are under no illusion of the challenges that we face in Nigeria.”
The event took the whole day and we were exhausted. But after all said and done, it was an unforgettable experience one working with a passionate and energetic leader like Buhari to secure the climatic future of Nigeria in a strange land.
On Wednesday, the Nigerian Embassy in Paris hosted us to a dinner, with some Nigerian professionals in Paris also in attendance. Prior to that we spoke to the three governors who accompanied the president to the summit- Mohammed Jibrilla of Adamawa State, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State- who told us what Nigeria and their states tend to gain from the summit.