I was in the same room in Lusaka, Zambia, at the African Development Bank annual meetings of 2016, when Akinwumi Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank, engaged in what you could call a very heated and bitter argument with an American lady. The subject was about the use of Africa’s coal resources. The woman had stridently argued for African countries to forget ‘dirty’ energy and embrace ‘green’ as a matter of urgency – once and for all. Adesina countered that he believes African countries should exploit their resources and optimise their use, after all the USA, Europe and Asia still used their own coal resources. He also stated that industrial growth – which Africa must pursue – cannot be anchored on renewable energy as yet. The woman shot back but Adesina would not relent. It was a tad bizarre as it was just the two of them on the podium. Other big wigs like Tony Elumelu were somewhere with us in the crowd.
Later when the USA opposed Adesina’s reelection, I remembered that incidence. I think that is one guy doing his best for Africa, within limits. These powerful countries are ready to barrage anyone to extinction with their own agenda. But it must be said that oftentimes these are not their national agenda but the agenda of a few guys who run the world and expect everyone to see through their eyes because they believe they know more than anyone and money should speak in all instances.
I have engaged many people on this climate change issue and found out that most people just jump on bandwagons without seeking the scientific knowledge of what the issues are about in the first place. Others have also been mentally battered by what they are exposed to by the media. Since most people don’t want to rock the boat or stand out, we have thus been reduced to robots who never dare to speak up. Gone are the days, like in the 1960s and 70s, when people engaged and spoke up, and chose their own paths. These days, we have been reduced to wimps, and at best, we just find a corner to crawl to, whimpering like kittens. Events since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown this in bold relief. Those who somehow knew more about the disease than every other person – the few people who own the world that is– deployed fear through the media. And even now as the world picks itself up from the dirt, no one dares to ask questions about the lies we were told as lives and businesses were destroyed – the false symptoms that were initially promoted about COVID (like people just falling dead where they stand… remember those scary videos of people having fits from COVID?), the confusion around how the disease really spreads, how long it lasts on surface, whether we would have a single dose, double doses, multiple doses or yearly doses vaccine, whether anyone needed a booster shot, whether vaccinated people could still contract COVID, spread to others or die from it, whether it was safe to jump from one vaccine provider to another, and the way these guys invented new answers along the way as new issues cropped up, among others. Any dissenting opinion was shut down, demonised, denigrated, cancelled, vilified, mocked. The same strategies have now been dusted up for reuse. Climate change is the next scare agenda.
The science of climate is simple and accessible. They said that the earth has warmed by one degree centigrade since 1750, which marked the beginning of the first industrial revolution, when heavy industries started manufacturing en masse for the rest of the world especially in Europe and later the Americas and Asia. This also was when they started keeping records. That is the science of it all. Someone could argue around the accuracy of the records, in view of the fact that it has spanned over almost 300 years and recorded only a beep (1 degree centigrade). The likelihood of errors is high for a 300-years old record that reports a one degree centigrade rise in general temperatures. But that is not for us here to say, given that we hardly keep any records in Nigeria. The bigger issue though is that in as much as we tag along with the rest of the world on these matters, Africa here is not known to have been part of the first, second, third, fourth or fifth industrial revolution – except as purchasers of things produced elsewhere. We are essentially fringe players, and very dependent on the rest of the productive world. Are we then jumping the gun? Are we kindergarten students trying to sit for PhD exams as far as climate issues and the environment is concerned? That is what I suspect though. We should be worried about being productive, about being fairly self-sufficient, and we would be unfortunate to shut the door against our own very liberation and independence from economic shackles.
Thankfully, it looks like the Nigerian government is waking up to the existential risk that the campaign portends – not only for Nigeria but for the growth, development and industrialisation of Africa. Vice President Osinbajo was the first in government to write about the danger, especially when these powerful countries and the few lords and masters pushed for total defunding of even gas production. He wrote a couple of articles asking that we should be allowed to use our resource at least for a while rather than get bootstrapped into a shock therapy, my words. I have always said climate change is not our issue. We need to find ways to industrialise and get out of dependency. My suspicion is enhanced when I see that the same people who push climate change are those who pushed COVID, and human depopulation, and same sex marriage, and so on. Famous Bill Gates did a video in 2015 about this issue in which he said one of the variables in his equation (which included carbon dioxide and human beings) needed to tend towards zero! We see the kind of future that those guys have in mind and it looks very much dystopic. We don’t want that future. Boris Johnson, the British PM, in his 2019 speech at the United Nations did warn us about the sweeping changes that ‘they’ superpowers were trying to put in place and suggested that the rest of us speak up so that some of the values of the traditional system that we are used to could transit into the ‘new normal’. Three months after his speech, COVID-19 went global. Climate change could be another such agenda and indeed a proper shock therapy for the world, with poor, inefficient African nations bearing the full brunt.
Recently, President Buhari also gave a speech on this matter, along the same lines as his VP. But they may both be too late. These climate proponents are uber-smart. They have projected several steps ahead already. And they usually get what they want. Like for COVID, the key instrument, is fear. CNN has said internally that their next agenda is climate change. Charlie Chester, one of CNN’s directors, confessed to this unwittingly while bragging to a date who was planted by a right-wing media house. On almost every global media tv station today, we are already being barraged every 5 minutes with the most ingenious advertisements that the world is about to end because we (human beings) dare to breathe and move around. As covid wanes, in comes the fear of climate change, and in comes the projection by Gates that human populations need to tend towards zero. Imagine that! As for environment, I say we should focus on the basics that we have since neglected. The basics that humanises us in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa – stop open defecation, build toilets, take care of flora and fauna, plant flowers, grasses trees, en masse, find better, sustainable ways around waste management, recycle, recycle, recycle. Then we must obsess about our open spaces, be like the Europeans, make sure there are people to tend every inch of our country to become picture perfect. We can even generate five million sustainable jobs thereby alone. Also, let’s expand our economy to be able to use our crude oil and derivatives even if the Europeans and Americans say they don’t want. A new economic order may yet emerge where every nation will just find a way to use its own resources. That is what agendas driven by fear achieves. We can already see that in kneejerk reactions all sorts of discrimination against Africa based on a mild COVID Omicron variant that could be a positive turning point for the scourge – a racist-tinged reaction.
Nigeria should absolutely be facing her fundamental issues with the environment as far as I’m concerned. We should be actively planting trees, grasses, flowers and shrubs, reclaiming deserts, fixing gullies, getting inventive with solid waste disposal, tackling open defecation among almost 50% of our people. But we always jump the gun and deceive ourselves that we have arrived with the rest of the world. On energy sources, we are not doing anything with our coal whereas USA, most of Europe, India and China, and all of Asia still use their coal. We don’t know how to add value to anything on our own despite the many university degrees since University of Ibadan was established 72 years ago and that is our problem here. Even the crude is garbage in garbage out as our import of refined petroleum, other oils and gas cancels out the gains of crude export. I put it down to laziness… physical and mental. We still are not attuned to the hard work and long-term vision and investments required for nation building and we totally lack leadership. Therefore, we run around from pillar to post, deceiving ourselves and being led by the nose… hopefully not to our perdition. Signing on to foreclosing the use of some energy sources for heavy industry when we have no industries means we don’t intend to ever have industries to produce what our people need. That means we are perfectly okay with being dependent on the other parts of the world. Sad and pathetic.
Oh I now see! The blowing out of Omicron variant as an ‘African’ variant, and the deployment on mass media of poverty-depicting images of the continent to present the variant as dirty and more infectious and dangerous even as science suggests the opposite, was meant to slow down the recovery of some of the oil export-dependent nations from COVID-19, and ease the pains of western nations who had jumped into the climate change agenda foot first and were seeing serious energy crisis as at one month ago. The fundamentals however remain; climate change as shock therapy is premature and unworkable… especially for African nations. The west should stop brutalising and traumatising us. And we should consolidate our friendship with China, Turkey and whichever nations show us some respect and has some genuine interest in our progress.