The Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Senator Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday faulted the procedure adopted by the federal government in awarding the N9.3 billion clean cook stoves contract.
Saraki, in a statement signed by his media aide, Bamikole Omishore, and made available to journalists in Ilorin, said that he was faulting the intervention on the grounds of “misplacement of immediate priority and lack of transparency and accountability in the procurement process.”
He described the government’s funding of the Clean Cookstove from the ecological fund without due process as a mockery of the Procurement Act and the Cookstove initiative.
The ecological fund 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 cookstove which are suppose to be funded through appropriations by National Assembly,” he stated.
Saraki, who is the highest political office holder in Nigeria to lead the clean cookstove initiative in Nigeria, is a member of the Leadership Council of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, believes that an intervention of that financial magnitude should be driven in partnership with the private sector through various forms of Public–Private Partnerships.
Saraki said this clarification became necessary to avoid a situation whereby his integrity would be put at stake, for example when he attends the next Leadership Council Meeting and he is asked to make a presentation on how the N9.3bn was used to create markets for clean cookstoves in Nigeria and he cannot lay his hand on any convincing strategy.
He lamented how it has been very difficult for his committee in the past to appropriate even N100 million for the same initiative due to insufficient federal government allocation for the environment sector.
The former governor of Kwara State said that the presidency’s decision to spend N9.3billion ecological fund on clean stove initiative is questionable.
He added: “The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is striving to create an enabling market for clean cookstoves and such fundamental best practices should be emulated for a sustainable clean cookstoves programme in Nigeria.
“Creating a market and enabling environment and adoption of innovative business models to attract business investments in scaling up the use of clean cookstoves in Phase two of the Global Alliance’s vision were part of what was agreed at recently concluded Cookstoves Future Summit in New York”.
Saraki noted that the distribution of stoves is important in stimulating the demand for the product, “but the amount of intervention that was announced by OSGF who knows only little of the issue instead of the Federal Ministry of Environment who has been championing the issue, came without adequate research, when there are still awareness gaps, and more immediate life threatening ecological issues currently confronting the nation”.
Saraki however agreed that in order for Nigeria to achieve her 20 million clean cookstoves target by 2020, some government interventions are required to stimulate the demand for cookstoves which include distributing stoves for free to Nigerians in the lowest part of the economic ladder.
“However, distributing 750,000 stoves at once is market distorting. It doesn’t encourage investment and is counterproductive to the Global Alliance’s vision of creating a sustainable market for clean cookstoves,” he noted.