As part of strategic advocacy on energy transition, officials of the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) closed the year 2022 with a courtesy visit to the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, Ms Amina J. Mohammed.
Chairman of HEDA, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, met with Mohammed in her office in New York on Tuesday, December 27, 2022, and the issues discussed included the just energy transition, Nigeria’s climate change response, and also the nexus between corruption, illicit financial flows and the country’s ability to deal with poverty and climate change.
Consequently, HEDA has called for effective action on Illicit Financial Flow (IFF) in the New Year 2023 as, according to the Lagos-based group, it impacts negatively on Africa’s ability to address climate change and plan for transition to clean energy.
In a statement issued to commemorate the Year 2023 in Lagos and signed by Suraju, HEDA recounted various activities it carried out in 2022 aimed at addressing the problems of climate change and threats it posed to sustainable development.
“We also implemented various engagement to assist governments in the fight against corruption and IFF as we are very much aware of its implications on the planned energy transition and sustainable development generally,” HEDA said.
Detailing some of the engagements, Mr Suraju said: “Very recently, in a workshop titled: ‘Ramping Up Climate Information Service Delivery for Dry Season Farming: Averting a National Food Crises Post-2022 Flooding’, we engaged permanent secretaries at a high-level technical meeting organised in collaboration with NiMet in Abuja.
“In partnership with Oxfam in Nigeria, we also organised a forum titled: ‘Climate Justice Circle (CJC)’, with an over-arching theme: ‘On the road to COP27’ which was aimed at an equitable, inclusive response to various impacts of natural and human-induced effect of climate change and a just energy transition, as articulated by over 70 stakeholders physically and a host of others who joined online. The event featured no less than 37 experts including from among women, youth and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) who led discussions across 10 panel discussion and a plenary congress.
“This was followed by the post COP27 dialogue, a one-day event titled: ‘COP 27 Outcomes and Implications for Africa: An Assessment’, which HEDA also organised.
“Also recently, we engaged critical stakeholders in Abuja on the need for International Anticorruption Court (IACC). In December as part of its tracking and document corruption cases, and rewarding uprightness, HEDA launched the 6th Edition of its ‘Compendium of 100 High Profile Corruption Cases in Nigeria.’
“We also presented in the same month, the 5th Edition of the Gani Fawehinmi Impacts and Integrity Awards (GFIIA) which was chaired by Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, JAMB Registrar, who presented the awards to various category of winners including the Outstanding Integrity Awards presented to Pa Muibi Sonubi, a 90-year-old man who, as a cab driver then, found and returned huge sum of money to the owner 40 years ago.
“In the course of the year, the organisation did secure a favourable judgement against the office of the Honourable Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division, Holden in Abuja, when the court compelled the Minister to supply HEDA with the information it requested under Nigeria’s FOI Act.
“During the year, the organisation engaged the protection of the shrinking civic space with issuing solidarity statements, supported victims with litigation and followed up on actions.
“From indiscriminate suspensions and fines slammed on broadcasting stations including Vision FM and Farin WATA TV by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) among others; and the attacks on journalists including arrest and detention of reporters of Peoples Gazette (an online media platform) by officers and men of the Federal Capital Territory’s Police Command, among others; to the attempt to silence dissent indicated by the persecution of civil society organisations, including the flagrant attacks by agents of Akwa Ibom State government on Policy Alert as well as the persecution of HEDA Resource Centre and its leadership by corrupt individuals fingered in the OPL 24 scam amongst a host of other issues, show that indeed, the shrinking civic space is leaving no one untouched.
“We engaged appropriately on each of the cited cases and others including the harassment and persecution of the former Chairman of the Kano State Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Commission (PCACC), Mr Muhyi Magaji, and indeed the latest version of judicial tyranny exhibited in form of an order by Justice Ekaette Obot’s to jail a Human Rights Lawyer – Inibehe Effiong – in Uyo Correctional Centre for what she (Justice Obot) termed ‘insolence and dishonourable acts’ by the young lawyer. We hope that there will be a freer civic space in 2023,”
On the food security front, HEDA said it produced State-specific Seasonal Climate Prediction documents based on NiMet’s predictions, organised series of sensitisation workshops and radio programmes to support farmers.
Indeed, it is noteworthy that the organisation cruised to victory on the frivolous charges against its Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, as a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja struck out the cyberstalking charge filed against him by the Nigerian government for lack of evidence.
“Recall that a former Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke, one of the accused charged with fraud in the OPL245 scam also referred to as Malabu scandal, had petitioned the police and accused Mr Suraju of being behind the petitions resulting in his prosecution for corruption and money laundering. That they circulated fabricated evidence against him to unduly incriminate him in the multi-million-dollar scandal. The Court dismissed the case,” HEDA noted.
The organisation said it also engaged the issues of elections as it instituted Election Monitoring Situation Room during the Osun State Gubernatorial Election.
“We also hosted a discussion of election monitoring and observation stakeholders and the Advance Election Monitoring Mission of the Dutch Embassy,” HEDA said, noting that, it is fully prepared to observe the 2023 general elections with a view to ensuring a free, fair and credible elections.