A climate change and development activist on Friday, August 4, 2023, in Abuja called on the Federal Government to increase investment in health and environment sectors.
Mr Michael David, Africa Regional Coordinator, Citizens Climate, made the call in a statement following a three-day visit of Mr Ajay Banga, the president of the World Bank Group to Nigeria. The visit which started on Wednesday and is expected to end on Friday.
David called for institutional reforms to expand investment in the health sector and environment as part of measures to guarantee human rights and climate safety.
He said such investment would support integral human development through community participation.
“World Bank loans for Nigeria should be directed to drive climate-resilient development considering Nigeria’s vulnerability to climate change impacts and huge debt burden.
“The necessary removal of subsidies that support predominance of petrol has brought untold hardship on millions of Nigerians, especially those who are exposed to climate impacts.
“We need a fair, phased, vulnerability-sensitive approach, so no one is required to choose between combating poverty and supporting climate-resilient development,” he said.
David advised that the $800 million loan from the World Bank should be used cushion the impact of high fuel prices on Nigerians.
“Nigerians should be given the opportunity to share meaningful input on what the loan, and others like it, would be used for.
“For instance, the Bank can study how money can be dispensed directly to households in need.
“Experience has shown that without robust, continuous stakeholder input, they may just be putting water into leaking buckets,” he said.
David also advised that citizens and communities should be given the opportunity to contribute to the design, delivery, and tracking of development finance in Nigeria.
“The era when citizens wake up, without worrying, about the news that the World Bank has approved millions of dollars as with all details and conditions decided behind closed doors, should become a thing of the past.
“Specifically, we call for recognition of the Bridgetown Initiative; grounding of reforms in human rights and gender equality; meaningful, on-going citizen input; and direct delivery of money to households in need,“ he said.
He appealed to the Federal Government to address longer term needs of climate-resilient infrastructure, and recognise sovereignty and the rights of indigenous peoples.
“New modes of international development finance should support multilateral cooperative arrangements to accelerate climate resilience and integral human development,” he said.
By Abigael Joshua