For days now I have been thinking of the whereabouts of Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, the Former Governor of Delta. While I have no doubts he is safe and sound and most likely enjoying his retirement as Governor, yet I have been wondering where he currently stands in the green economy scene.
For those who don’t know, and for those whose memories are not long enough to retain great strides of past leaders, permit me to remind you that His Excellency, Dr Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan was the immediate past governor of Delta State whose very active and enduring passion for low carbon economy earned him the “Green Governor”.
Permit me to further remind you that for most part of his eight year lead as Governor, he did show uncommon leadership and commitment to issues of climate change mitigation and adaptation in Africa. With such zeal, he alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California launched the R20 (Regions of Climate) in 2011 and was elected the R20 Vice-Chair for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Also, in 2011 he signed a MoU with UNDP to implement the Territorial Approach to Climate Change Programme (TACC) in Delta State. The TACC became a signature project in Delta State and indeed in Nigeria pioneering all manner of carbon reduction initiatives that were geared towards sustainability of lives on planet earth. Diverse pilot programmes were developed for upscaling thereby positioning Delta as a model state when it came to issues of climate change, environmental protection, green economy and REDD Readiness.
In fact, during the National REDD+ consultation on New States Held in Calabar Cross River State in 2014, out of four states, Delta State was the only state that made concrete presentations that involved articulated projects that were all based on reducing emission and pursuing an integrated low carbon economy. The other three states (Ondo, Ekiti, Nasarawa) made presentations that are majorly based on plans and projections for forestry and REDD in their states. Only Delta state had started implementing their plans and projects.
The revolutionary Delta State Eco-Stove which as a pilot project of TACC was helping community women reduce deforestation, as well as help reduce the impact of fuel wood on their health attracted the commendation and recommendation of UNDP and the attention of Ecobank.
Dr Salisu Dahiru of the Federal Ministry of Environment was very excited in Calabar that he said “…the Delta Ecostove is highly innovative and this is the kind of interventions we will like to see in other states. I suggest that this project be put into the CDM platform.” The Eco-Stove was also recommended for exhibition at the LIMA Conference. Imagine a smart idea out of Delta State setting the pace.
To me such were the great strides that were inspired by the passion and leadership of Dr Uduaghan. The political will was just overwhelming.
In addition, Dr Uduaghan was the first Governor to launch a climate change policy document as well as an Integrated Territorial Climate Plan (ITCP) which was well articulated and developed in partnership with consultants from R20 Switzerland. The policy and the ITCP contained blueprints on strategic steps towards green future of Delta State. His efforts at creating partnership programmes that support
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy measures were indeed commendable. No doubt most of these efforts may have been trashed- not because they are not good, but apparently, the green vision can only be championed by uncommon leaders who think beyond normal. And that’s the bane of Sustainable Governance in Nigeria.
As a “credible voice” in the peril of global warming, Uduaghan’s influence over other leaders was clear. During the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP 19/CMP 9) at Warsaw, Poland he voiced passionately on “Enhancing adaptation and resilience at the local level”. At the Global Governors Climate Summit in California, he canvassed vigorously for a restoration of the ecosystem in polluted and environmentally devastated oil-producing communities occasioned by the activities of multinational oil companies operating in the creeks and riverine communities of the Niger Delta region.
Jane Davidson, who is the Minister for Environment in Wales, United Kingdom said “Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the Governor of Delta State, has been adjudged by AFRIPOL and the Global Network for Good Governance based in South Africa and Norway as a great respecter of the environment and I am very happy with this”
At the time, and maybe till now, he still remains the only Governor in Nigeria, maybe Africa with clear cut plan that seeks a diversified low-carbon and climate-resilient economy that will secure the future of our children. His vision of Delta Beyond Oil (is) still the only way to go for a sustainable Nigeria- with new levels of hope, of green jobs and of sustainability.
Having been a major Green Evangelist that also witnessed some of these efforts as inspired by the leadership of Dr Uduaghan, I am very concerned that this “credible voice” (Uduaghan) on the perils of global warming has become ‘latent’. And with it so many initiatives and aspirations seem to have diminished. I do not believe leaving office as a Public Servant means draining the pool of ideas that serve humanity. Such should not be the case. His peer, Arnold Schwarzenegger through the R20 still powers on providing solutions to various Sub-National Governments across the world.
In all these, my greatest distress is does Dr Uduaghan actually know the impact the green vision has on global development? Does he fully understand the economic worth of low carbon economy on developing countries and sub-national governments? I believe he does. But one then wonders, why the “silence of the lamb”. This sector is huge and is bigger than any political position that does not recognize your value. I urge him to pick up the gauntlet and ensure low carbon becomes the green passport to Africa’s development. To me, that’s his assignment. To me, that is his authentic voice.
Chibuikem Diala is the Executive Director of International Hospitality, Tourism & Eco-Sustainability Forum. He is a Green Enthusiast that volunteers for The Green Team. He is Author of Realities of Climate Change, Burning Questions & Possible Answers. He can be reached on 08030842207, greenteam.africagmail.com