””’COP28: Obi, Presidency bicker over 1,411 Nigerian delegates in Dubai’COP28: Obi, Presidency bicker over 1,411 Nigerian delegates in Dubai
Labour Party presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections, Peter Obi, and the Presidency, on Sunday, traded words over the 1,411 Nigerian delegation at the ongoing COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Many Nigerians have kicked against the high number of Nigerian delegates, the third highest at COP28, amid the growing economic hardship being experienced by millions of citizens as a result of government policies, including the rising cost fuel and food.
Obi, in a post on his X handle, sarcastically commended Nigeria for having the same number of delegations like China.
Obi tweeted, “In a twist of sad irony, let me congratulate the giant of Africa, Nigeria, for matching the great China, with the same number of contingents at the ongoing COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Nigeria’s contingent to COP28 totaled 1411, the same number as the Chinese contingents.
“While China’s budget for 2024 is about $4 trillion, about $2,860 per head; Nigeria’s budget is about $33bn, about $165 per head. China has a high Human Development Index, HDI, with a ranking of 79 out of 191 countries measured, and Nigeria has a low HDI, with a ranking of 163 out of 191 countries measured.”
According to the LP flagbearer, Nigeria has more people living in ‘multi-dimensional’ poverty than China, despite its huge population, which is seven times more than that of Nigeria.
He added, “Most importantly, the vast majority of those in the Nigerian delegation to COP28 are either non relevant civil servants or relations, friends and hangers-on of high government officials. Most of them hardly understand or have anything to do with Climate Change.
“This huge contingent is out at public expense at a time when most Nigerians can hardly afford food and basic needs as a result of economic hardship. I pray earnestly that a day will come soon enough when we can focus on competing with China on productivity and the miracle of migrating the highest number of its citizens out of poverty over a relatively short time.
“As we have kept emphasising, we must stop waste as a tradition of our government and nation. We urgently need to cut the cost of governance and invest in production.”
Obi said Nigeria needed to de-emphasize unnecessary ceremony and showmanship as a mode of government behaviour and to tie spending to necessity and national priority.
But in a swift reaction, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Temitope Ajayi, said that Nigeria’s 1,411 delegates at the ongoing COP28 in Dubai were not all government-funded.
The presidential aide said in a statement on Sunday that Nigeria’s delegation include civil society actors, business persons and others who have different roles to play at the conference.
Ajayi listed the Nigerian delegation to include business leaders, environmentalists, climate activists and journalists.
But he did not state the exact number of delegates being funded by the government, despite speculations that over 600 were funded by the government.
His statement read, “In Nigeria like so many other countries, interested parties comprising government officials from both the Federal and sub-national governments, business leaders, environmentalists, climate activists and journalists are present in Dubai. Also participating are agencies of government such as the NNPC and its subsidiaries, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, NIMASA, NDDC.
“Many youth organisations from Nigeria especially from the Northern and Niger-Delta regions whose lives and livelihoods are most impacted by desert encroachment and hydrocarbon activities are also represented.
“The President of Ijaw Youth Council, Jonathan Lokpobiri, leads a pan-Ijaw delegation of more than 15 people who registered as parties from Nigeria. Among delegates from Nigeria are also over 20 journalists from various media houses