Jean Lambert, Green Party Member of the European Parliament, has hosted a London event to discuss how to boost employment and reduce corruption in Nigeria when Africa’s largest nation seeks to move beyond its reliance on oil exports.
The discussion, which was co-hosted by the Henrich Boll Foundation and attended by top ‘Nollywood’ actor Ejike Asigebu and prominent Nigerian campaigners, heard that more than a million jobs would be created if the country switched to growing its own rice – currently much of the grain, a staple food for millions of Nigerians, is imported from India and Thailand.
They also heard how Nigeria was already bearing the brunt of some of the most devastating effects of climate change – with desertification, drought, extreme storms and sea-level rises contributing to land degradation and conflict.
The event was one of a series of meetings called to bringing together the research of Heinrich Boll with the activism of Occupy in a vision of an alternative future for Africa’s most populous country.
Experts predict that as oil reserves dwindle and much of the world seeks alternatives to fossil fuel imports, Nigeria’s $25bn a year income from oil generation will collapse – meaning the country will have to create wealth, employment and exports from renewable energy technologies and better small-scale farming.
Speaking after the event, Jean said: “Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil exporter – but it will need to move beyond oil and realise its huge potential for solar energy generation if it is to build long-term resilience into its economy.
“Currently, Nigeria bears the brunt of some of the worst impacts of climate change, as well as seeing much of its wealth – and particularly oil revenue – skimmed off by corruption at all levels, both of which fuel poverty, hinder development and are fuelling conflict.
“Part of the answer to all of these problems lies in a large-scale switch to solar and other renewable energy generation and a return to local food production – in short a Green New Deal for Nigeria.”
Jean has long been interested in Africa’s largest country and most recently visited Nigeria as part of the EU Election Observation Mission for the 2011 Presidential election. Jean has also been instrumental in placing pressure on the European Commission to take a tougher stance on fighting corruption in Nigeria’s political institutions.