Senator Bukola Saraki, chairman Senate Committe on Environment and Ecology, has faulted the Federal Government’s award of N9.3billion for clean Cookstoves, describing it as a misplacement of priority and lacking in transparency and accountability in the procurement process.
Saraki believes that funding of the Clean Cookstove from the Ecological Fund without due process is a mockery of the Procurement Act and the Cookstove initiate. He pointed out that the Ecological Funds which is assumed to have been the source of this fund was established to fight emergency ecological problems in Nigeria like flooding, erosion and other unforeseen natural disasters and not for funding initiatives such as clean Cookstoves which are suppose to be funded through appropriations by National Assembly.
The senator, who is one of the promoters of the initiative in Nigeria and a member of the Leadership Council of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, noted that an intervention of that financial magnitude should be driven in partnership with the private sector through various forms of Public-Private partnerships.
He lamented the difficulty experienced by his committee in the past to appropriate N100 million for the same initiative due to insufficient allocation by the Federal Government to the environment sector, thus he stated that for the presidency to direct N9.3bn to be spent as sole source is questionable.
At the recently concluded Cookstoves Future Summit in New York, the Global Alliance agreed on creating enabling environment and adoption of innovative business models to attract business investments in scaling up the use of clean cookstoves.
Senator Saraki noted that the distribution of stoves are important in stimulating the demand for the product, but added that spending such an amount on the initiative without due process given the limitations of the country defeats the purpose of a long lasting solution.
The Senate Committee on Environment & Ecology agrees that in order for Nigeria to achieve her 20 million clean Cookstoves target by 2020, government intervention is required to stimulate the demand for Cookstoves which include distribution of stoves for free to Nigerians in the lowest part of the economic ladder.
It however pointed out that distributing 750,000 stoves at once is market distorting and does not encourage investment which is counterproductive to the Global Alliance’s vision of creating a sustainable market for clean Cookstoves.
For the exercise to be successful, Senator Saraki is calling for a review of the whole process, involving all critical stakeholders to ensure transparency and accountability.
“An efficient tracking, monitoring and implementation strategy domiciled and implemented by the Federal Ministry of Environment which will support our existing local manufacturers to build capacity should be pursued. We can’t be talking about stimulating demand and creating local jobs by sending foreign exchange to another country to import stoves. A N9.3bn PPP arrangement with the private sector with the potential of addressing all the subsectors of the clean Cookstoves initiative would build investor confidence and guarantee investments in the establishment of Clean Cookstoves manufacturing plants in Nigeria,” Saraki stated.
He further urged the Ministry of Environment to ensure that funds meant for the initiative should not be diverted to fund political campaigns, given the suspicious timing of the FEC approval.