BY MATTHEW BLESSING
The Presidency clarified on Sunday that only a handful of the 1,411 Nigerian delegates who registered to attend the COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, are sponsored by the Federal Government.
It also said that a bulk of the contingents comprised private sector players such as businesspeople, Civil Society Organisations and delegates from Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta region.
The Federal Government noted that the delegates are at the Summit to promote their respective causes and not for a jamboree.
A statement signed on Sunday by President Bola Tinubu’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Temitope Ajayi, said “It is important to state here that delegates from all countries, whether from government, private sector, media and civil society groups, attend COP summits and conferences as parties and the number of attendees are registered against their countries of origin. This does not mean they are sponsored or funded by the government.”
The response followed social media uproar over the significant presence of Nigerian delegates at the ongoing United Nations Climate Conference (COP28) in Dubai.
While noting that the large contingent from Nigeria is not solely government-funded, Ajayi said, “It is important to state here that delegates from all countries whether from government, private sector, media and civil society groups attend COP summits and conferences as parties and the number of attendees are registered against their countries of origin.
“This does not mean that they are sponsored or funded by the government. It must also be said that the fact that people registered to attend a conference does not mean everyone who registered is physically present.
“As the biggest country in Africa, the biggest economy and one with a bigger stake in climate action as a country with a huge extractive economy, it is a no-brainer that delegates from Nigeria will be more than any other country in Africa.”
He pointed out that because of the significance of the climate conference, stakeholders from Nigeria beyond the government are also involved.
They include UBA Chairman, Tony Elumelu; Chairman of BUA group, Abdul Samad Rabiu and other billionaires “whose businesses are promoting sustainability and climate actions through their philanthropies.”
“These businessmen and women and their staff who came with them to promote their own business interests are part of the 1,411 delegates from Nigeria. Their trip to Dubai is not funded by the Federal Government.
“United Nations Climate summit, by its very nature, commands attendance of big names from across the world – statesmen and women, politicians, lawmakers, corporate titans, journalists and activists, etc. who promote big global agenda. So, people attend the summit for many reasons,” the Presidency clarified.
Ajayi also explained that when the world comes together to take action to achieve a common goal and proffer collective solutions to a nagging global concern, there are parties involved from government, private sector, civil society, media and multilateral institutions.
He noted, “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 Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and its subsidiaries, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the Niger Delta Development Commission and many youth organisations from Nigeria.
“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.
“Their participation is very important. It is not for jamboree as it is being mischievously represented on social media,” he noted.