Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
Despite its net-zero carbon emissions pledge by 2060, the federal government has signalled the return of coal mining in the country, with the putting up for sale of five coal blocks in Enugu.
In an invitation for expressions of interest for the public bidding of five coal blocks, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) stated that the coal fields were currently being held by the Nigerian Coal Corporation (NCC) on behalf of the federal government.
The BPE therefore called for a public bid of the five blocks by prospective investors, listing them as the Amasiodo coal block, Onyeama Coal Block, Okpara Coal Biock, Inyi Coal Block and the AgwasiAzagba Coal Block.
Almost defunct before now, the NCC was established in 1950 and it is 100 per cent owned by the federal government. The headquarters is located in Enugu.
But the new development appears to contradict Nigeria’s pledge for cleaner sources of fuel. In November 2021, at the COP26 Leaders’ Summit, President Muhammadu Buhari in Glasgow, Scotland, pledged that Nigeria would cut its emissions to net zero by 2060.
He argued that greater effort should be channelled towards assisting developing nations to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) commitments through the pledges made by the developed countries to provide at least $100 billion yearly.
‘‘I do not think anyone in Nigeria needs persuading of the need for urgent action on the environment. Desertification in the North, floods in the centre, pollution and erosion on the coast are enough evidence.
‘‘For Nigeria, climate change is not about the perils of tomorrow but what is happening today. Nigeria is committed to net zero by 2060,’’ the president said, although Nigeria still remains a severely energy-poor nation.
But the BPE in the document advertising the fields for sale, recalled that the federal government had the exclusive rights to mine coal in Nigeria until 1999, when it established a policy and legislation that deregulated mineral exploration and exploitation.
This, it said, opened the sector to private industry participation and resulted in entering into joint ventures on an equity participation basis. It added that the federal government is currently divesting from all of its operating interests in the sector.