The citizens of Nigeria are expressing strong condemnation towards the extensive group of delegates that the country has sent to the ongoing climate change conference in Dubai. These citizens have been urged by President Bola Tinubu to endure the increased costs of goods and services resulting from government measures. A multitude of Nigerians resorted to various social media platforms, including X, to express their deep discontentment following the release of a preliminary roster of authorized representatives by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) during the ongoing 28th session of the UN Conference of Parties (COP28) held in Dubai.
This year’s summit in Dubai has attracted 1,411 delegates from both Nigeria and China, as reported by the published list. Each of these delegates has been accredited with badges to participate in the event. Among all the countries gathered at COP28, Nigeria was positioned as the third highest, coming after the UAE and Brazil, as revealed by a thoroughly examined published list. Within the group of 1,411 delegates from Nigeria, precisely 821 individuals possess the Overflow badges, whereas 590 attendees received authorization to wear the Party badge. Negotiating nations and the European Union, who have officially endorsed the convention and actively participate in the negotiation process, are given party badges. On the contrary, overflow badges are designated for individuals outside of these parties, including civil society advocates, media personnel, and business representatives.
A large number of delegates lack knowledge of COP negotiation procedures.
Nigeria’s Party delegates review highlights a myriad of individuals, comprising both past and present ministers, advisors with specific roles, executives presiding over MDAs, and even members of the presidential staff, encompassing positions like baggage officers and chefs. Individuals wearing the Party badge ought to function as representatives of their respective nations in the various negotiation spaces. These delegates would then provide updates to the designated country focal point person within the UNFCCC. In Nigeria, it is widely presumed that a significant number of the Party delegates lack comprehension of both COP negotiation procedures and the intricate climate negotiation processes.
According to an unnamed official from Nigerian environment ministry, individuals possessing Nigerian party badge are expected to actively monitor and evaluate the ongoing negotiation text, and subsequently provide feedback. However, a majority of these individuals lack the necessary understanding of the operational process involved in this matter. The official, who requested anonymity, revealed this in Dubai. The environment ministry’s official stated that efforts are ongoing to educate individuals bearing ‘Party’ badges on the mechanics of the process. Participants at the COP event who possess a Party badge are granted extensive privileges in terms of accessing various meeting rooms within the venue. Conversely, individuals with Overflow badges often face limitations.
Party badges are worn by primary negotiators and delegates.
Nnimmo Bassey, the director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), shared his insights on COP negotiations. With his extensive decade-long experience, Bassey mentioned the distribution of Party badges to primary negotiators and delegates, while issuing Party overflow badges to additional attendees. He further stated that the chances of the federal government providing funding for Party Overflow delegates are slim, although it is possible that state governments or government agencies might consider doing so. He pondered the reason behind the considerable number of Nigerian agencies participating at COP, instead wondering why they didn’t convene within Nigeria itself to establish a shared agenda.
Mr. Bassey, the presence of agencies at the COP who are only interested in seeking tiny amounts of support for individual projects poses a significant threat. This could potentially undermine the authority of the main national negotiators. He mentioned that it is important to consider that Nigeria typically tends to align its views with those of the African negotiating bloc. This necessitates tactful involvement to develop the country’s worldwide stance and prevent fragmented and limited focus on specific organizations. Nevertheless, several specialists express doubt regarding the possibility of the Nigerian government having financed the entire cohort of 590 delegates.
Nigerians are perplexed by this government’s decision.
President Bola Tinubu’s policies, such as the elimination of petrol subsidies and the implementation of a fluctuating naira exchange rate, have exacerbated the already dire situation in Nigeria, where more than half of the population, exceeding 200 million, struggles to escape poverty. Despite admitting that his policies have negatively impacted the economic situation of numerous Nigerians, Mr. Tinubu asserts that these policies are essential for fostering long-term economic growth. Amidst the economic downturn, Nigerians are perplexed by the government’s decision to allocate a substantial number of representatives for the COP28 conference.