By Seyi Gesinde
The United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry has described Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, as someone who has been “so terrific,” whose “seriousness, purpose and knowledge” he admires.
Kerry, a former US Secretary of State, who was on a working visit to Nigeria, made the statement during his meeting with Prof Osinbajo in his office, at Statehouse, on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, after a prior audience with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Kerry told Osinbajo: “You have been so terrific. Your seriousness, purpose and your knowledge, and you have really been trying to pull people together which is great and I admire that. The team at the embassy is prepared to be all in, so, I am here to say that we are prepared to work with you in the same way we do in partnership.”
Earlier in his meeting with Kerry, VP Osinbajo, addressing the energy issue, had said the use of gas as a transition fuel would not only help in stemming deforestation, it would also advance Nigeria’s broader development goals, especially because Nigeria has one of the largest gas reserves in the world.
He said the same would be true as other developing countries would also benefit from the adoption of gas as a transition fuel.
Speaking further in the meeting with Kerry and the US delegation, the Vice President highlighted the need for Nigeria to continue the exploration and use of gas as a way of arresting deforestation, transiting away from dirtier fuels like diesel, kerosene and petrol, while at the same time ensuring that the country has the necessary energy baseload for industrialization.
Pointing out that Nigeria has one of the largest gas reserves in the world and should benefit from its exploitation, the VP also highlighted the significance of Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan, which is the first in Africa.
Recalled that Prof Osinbajo had discussed the Energy Transition Plan during his recent visit to Washington, DC, where the VP met with his American counterpart, VP Kamala Harris at the White House, among other top US government officials. Before the recent US trip, the Federal Government had launched the Energy Transition Plan at a global virtual event.
In addition to a review of the Energy Transition Plan, including a discussion about its implementation, both the Vice President and Mr Kerry also discussed the issues of renewable energy sources and the global transition.
Also responding to the energy issue and Nigeria’s transition plan, in his remarks, Kerry had high praises for the plan and also for the efforts already being made in Nigeria to step up the use of renewables, especially solar and hydropower, as major components of the energy mix.
While acknowledging that Nigeria ought to benefit from its gas reserves, Kerry urged an even more rapid adoption of renewables, especially electric vehicles, which are certainly the next wave in auto manufacturing.
He observed that the technology of renewables keeps improving daily adding that batteries are already in production which lasts far more than those that are now in the market.
Upon a specific request by the Vice President, the Special Envoy promised to assist Nigeria with the necessary expertise to scientifically determine the most appropriate energy mix that will move the country toward the goal of energy for all by 2030 and net zero carbon emissions by 2060, without compromising the country’s energy security.
The US Special Envoy also affirmed the readiness of the US Government to assist Nigeria in a bilateral partnership to realize its Climate Change adaptation and resilience capacity, thereby consolidating the nation’s place as a model for other countries on the planet.
He added that he looked forward to Nigeria presenting an inspiring position, which will no doubt attract all necessary global support at the upcoming COP 27 in Egypt later in the year.
Kerry was accompanied by other US officials including the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Mary Beth Leonard.