You have likely heard or noticed, the world is navigating towards an alternative future—a future shaped by the principles of green and renewable energy, encapsulated in what we term the Energy Transition. Nigeria has crafted an Energy Transition Plan (ETP), a commendable step towards a sustainable future. However, this plan was conceived without the vital input of the youths.
In recognizing that the future belongs to the young and that they will bear the brunt of this transition, we proceeded to unearth the perspectives and aspirations of the youth, understanding the anticipated impacts on their lives and discerning the necessary measures to mitigate potential challenges.
Exploring host communities in Akwa Ibom State, where the rhythm of life is intertwined with the pulse of oil production, we embarked on a journey to three vibrant oil-producing communities in Mbo, Ibeno, and Esit Eket, to capture the voices of the youth on energy transition and here’s what we discovered:
Utibe Ateh’s Perspective – Uyenghe, Mbo
Utibe Ateh, hailing from Uyenghe, Mbo, spoke about the importance of the government providing training in globally relevant areas for the youth. He pointed out that such training could mitigate potential crises like robbery and resistance stemming from job loss during the transition. Utibe advocated for youth education in technology, solar installation, and usage to ensure ongoing relevance and sustenance.
Voices of Resilience – Nkoyo Etim Ekpe and Eno Edet Dan
In the words of Nkoyo Etim Ekpe and Eno Edet Dan, young women from Uyenghe, Mbo, they expressed the need for essential provisions before any transition takes place, given their current hardships. These provisions include access to potable water, well-maintained roads, quality healthcare facilities, adequately equipped primary and secondary schools for their children, consistent power supply, scholarships, and empowerment initiatives for women in business. They emphasized that addressing these fundamental needs would significantly improve their quality of life amid the impending changes.
Voices of Concern – Vera Afaha
“I am not familiar with the energy transition plan, I’m even more surprised that Nigeria has an energy transition plan. There are many more others like me who are not aware of this plan, so have mass buy-in, more awareness is needed”.
Martins Asukpa’s View
Martins Asukpa of Ibeno brought a unique perspective, highlighting the need for oil companies to restore the community to its initial state before any transition occurs. He said; ” before such a thing happens, there should be plan, strategy or steps that should be put in place and one of such is that there should be a decommissioning fund put in place to restore this environment back to its initial state because our environment has been badly polluted”.
Precious Samuel’s Suggestion
“I have reviewed Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan, it relies too much on gas and gas is also a fossil fuel, the plan also speaks of renewable energy jobs in general terms without a clear pathway to those opportunities. My opinion is that the government should develop a clear framework on how they will deliver the 840,000 jobs the plan promises.
“Digital skills should be encouraged before transiting to cleaner forms of energy, what is the point of the transition if youths will suffer unemployment? Therefore, digital skills should be viewed as a part of the transition.
In these communities, the words of the youths resonate with a common call for proactive measures, thoughtful investments, and collaboration to navigate the evolving landscape of energy transition. The resonance of these voices reaches beyond individual perspectives, forming a collective plea for a universal approach.
To pave the way forward, it is imperative for stakeholders—government, oil companies, and communities—to engage in open dialogue, fostering a shared vision of sustainable development. Empowering the youth with diverse skills, addressing essential needs, and implementing restorative measures are integral steps toward a just future.
In this chorus of perspectives, the way ahead entails not just listening but also actively responding to the desires of these communities. By working together persistently, we can guarantee a future where energy transition becomes a driver of beneficial change, leaving no community behind in the quest for a more sustainable and equitable tomorrow.