..says Nigeria’s $321m stole funds stashed away in Switzerland
Nigeria’s Finance minister on Wednesday vigorously accused the Western world of not being fair by frustrating Africa which suffer huge energy gaps from using cheap coal to expand power generation on the continent.
Adeosun said it is hypocritical that the developed world which continues to pollute the atmosphere since over 200 years and has caused enormous climate change problems is now preaching ‘green energy’ and frustrating efforts by African countries to fire coal power, citing carbon emission.
“Yes in Africa, we do need the macroeconomic stability to attract funds for infrastructure but we also need partnerships like the ones with the multilateral like in coal. We in Nigeria have coal, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that it makes sense to build some nice coal fired power plants because it solves two problems.
“Yet, we have been blocked because it is not green. I think that there is some hypocrisy in that. We have the entire western industrialization that was built on coal fired energy and that’s the competitive advantage that has been used to develop, for instance, New Yorkshire and the rest. It’s coal, from coal to industrialisation,” Adeosun said at a panel session on “Towards a better infrastructure in Developing Countries” at the ongoing IMF/World Bank Annual meetings in Washington DC.
“But today, Africa wants to do coal, oh! It’s not green, you can’t do it, you should go and do solar and wind which is the most expensive power option.
“Yes, we have got that narrative around Africa must invest in infrastructure but we must also make sure that the playing field is level. The West cannot say after polluting the atmosphere for a 100 years, now Africa wants to explore its coal resources, its no, no,” she argued.
She admitted that Africa will come up with bankable projects and “we will behave ourselves, but I think we also have to be very fair. If you want to sign out coal and go to fuel, no problem, but those who started it must also lead. First stop using coal before asking Africa not to go into it, because by doing so, you are just pushing us into this destructive cycle of development.
“You continue to be more competitive than us like in manufacturing and that is because you have power and we trying to catch up and we are having our hands tied behind us.”
She called the West to take away what she called “difficult, unfair green goals/demands” which are hindering infrastructure development in Africa, arguing that the “kind of power being recommended by the developed world is too expensive for the continent except they are willing to compensate the continent.
“We are happy to go green and wind as long as they are ready to pay for the difference. You don’t want us to do coal, no problem, we will do green, we will do wind, hydro, everything else that is not coal but someone has to compensate us.
“We cannot afford to be burdened with the additional cost of going green when those who polluted the atmosphere are continuing to use coal, that’s not fair,” Adeosun stated.
The minister also accused the West of playing safe havens for looted funds from Nigeria, noting though, a more cooperation from foreign governments to ensure those funds are repatriated back to country.
Responding to the hypocrisy of the West that billion of dollars of stolen Nigerian monies are stashed away in the foreign counties and not being repatriated back to the country to support infrastructure building, Adeosun said, “I agree with you about the West hypocrisy around looted funds from Nigeria.
“These looted funds are not sitting in Nigeria, but outside Nigeria, in Britain, America. We are getting much more cooperation since president Buhari came in from Western governments in trying to repatriate these monies. And they are significant sums. I think that Switzerland alone has $321 million which has stayed there for 17 years at no interest at no interest, yet, we have been borrowing every year. And that’s jut from one person who looted Nigeria’s treasury,” she noted.
” We are getting better cooperation. We hope those monies will come in soon and we are earmarking them for infrastructure development.”
At the session, Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Oxford agreed that tackling climate change problems was critical and would involve closing the coal to power energy. But Collier corroborated Adeosun’s position that the process needs to start with the West.
“It has to start with the richest countries,” he told participants at the event as he extracted a commitment from Adeosun that Africa would comply to green energy if the industrialized nations also seize to deploy coal to power generation.
“That’s an ethical global commitment from an African minister and that seems to me that’s the right thing,” Collier said, maintaining that, “Africa needs a fair deal.”
Collier was of the view that Africa’s future is urban, “so we got to get the cities work,” he stated. “We got to crack the huge power problem for Africa and that has to be coal and hydro power.”
Aldo Calari, Director of Rethinking the Bretton Woods Project at the Centre of concern was also of the view that if there was going to be an improvement in power in Africa, there has to be some carbon component.
“There has to be cheap production of power in Africa. Therefore, I’m in strong agreement with Kemi here,” he argued.