The Coalition for Socioecological Transformation of Nigeria (CoSET), in collaboration with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Nigeria, held its 2020 core meeting, in Abuja, from 18 - 19 March 2020. The two-day meeting of CoSET members was laced with high-level advocacy visits to the Minister of State for Environment, H.E. Sharon Ikeazor, and the House Committee on Environment led by the Chair, Hon. Johnson Ogwumah.
Nigeria, at different international fora, has pledged to end gas flaring by 2020. It was important for the Coalition to meet and finalize the strategy to amplify the #EndGasFlaringNow campaign. The first day of the meeting entailed brainstorming and campaign designing and the second day witnessed CoSET’s advocacy visit to the Nigerian Minister of State for Environment who received members of the coalition in her office.
CoSET sought government commitment to ensure the end of gas flaring in Nigeria by 2020, as it has committed to. The coalition expressed willingness to work in synergy with the Ministry of Environment to ensure this deadline is met. Furthermore, CoSET requested the pronouncement of an actual date to end gas flaring, clarify the difference between Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions target and National target on ending gas flaring, and urged the Ministry of Environment to act as a driving force in ending gas flaring and not abdicate their duty to the Petroleum Ministry. Other suggestions included requesting the Ministry to compel oil companies to publicise their plans for ending gas flaring and managing associated gas as well as carry out health audits of the affected communities.
The Minister, in her response, reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring that the environment is protected against exploitation and business interests. She assured that the inter-ministerial committee set up by the government on environment and related matters will deliberate on CoSET’s request and find workable ways to deliver the right result. She mentioned that a definite date to end gas flaring cannot be confirmed immediately but hopes that it is one of the things that engagements with the inter-ministerial committee will address. The Minister also urged members of CoSET to, beyond activism, engage in political processes to directly influence critical decisions.
The coalition also visited Nigeria’s House of Representatives to meet with the House Committee on Environment, Chaired by Hon. Johnson Ogwumah. CoSET requested the House to ensure an actual date to end gas flaring is pronounced by the Presidency, and warned that payment of fines is no longer viable as it is part of production cost covered in percentages partly by government and oil companies. The House expressed willingness to work with CoSET to achieve the common goal of ending gas flaring in Nigeria, noting that it hurts them and their communities. They vowed not to compromise on standards to ensure that their communities experience environmental justice.