President Tinubu takes over 1,400 delegates on multibillion-naira junket to Dubai COP-28 conference

Barely a year after condemning the proposed emission cut to Nigeria and other African countries, President Bola Tinubu this week travelled to the United Arab Emirates for a climate summit with over 1,400 delegates from Nigeria. 

According to the United Nations, this year’s Conference of the Parties will be held from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The body released a list of participants from Nigeria who would be taking part in the event, which ranged from people in the president’s office to private, non-governmental groups in Lagos and other parts of the country. 

The UN said at least 1,411 delegates attended from Nigeria. Of these, at least 589 people followed the president directly to the conference, including cabinet ministers and their aides. Civil servants are also on the list, including some officials whose purviews did not cover climate policy, like an interior ministry aide in charge of personnel management. 

The junket would easily cost Nigeria billions at a time Mr Tinubu’s administration is asking the country’s predominantly poor citizens to endure further hardship as a result of his removal of subsidy on petrol consumption in the country. Each delegate would spend millions of naira on accommodation and logistics during the trip, and the president’s closest delegates would be accommodated at top hotels with high-star services across the city. 

The president’s son, Seyi, who has no official designation and was recently warned by his father to stop meddling in government functions, was also at the conference on public dole. 

While the list also includes the media and non-governmental organisations, it was unclear how many. of them were funded by the public. But representatives of media organisations like the NTA, NAN, VON, and Radio Nigeria, among others, are already government employees and would be funded by the taxpayers of the UAE. 

The UN said Nigeria has the third-largest delegation to the event, behind only China and Brazil, which both have significant input in global climate policies than Nigeria. Nigeria’s delegation surpassed the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, according to UN disclosures.  

Nigeria will not be presenting any major policy proposals at the conference, and no official could justify the need for such a high number of delegates when asked by Peoples Gazette on Saturday afternoon. 

Mr Tinubu had in 2022 vowed not to cooperate with Western emission policies because of Nigeria’s underdevelopment, saying the developed countries should first give money to Africans before expecting any allyship in emission cuts. 

“We need to tell the West, if you don’t guarantee our finances and work with us to stop this, we are not going to comply with your climate change,” Mr Tinubu said in October 2022. “We are a poor nation. They say we need to plant more trees and they are not giving us money.” 

Millions of Nigerians have been plunged into poverty since Mr Tinubu assumed office in late May and promptly cut off petrol subsidies that have been in place to mitigate poverty since 1970s. The Nigerian leader argued the subsidies had become unsustainable in recent years, but failed to implement measures that would help feed the poor across the country. Nigeria, with its 200 million population, was already designated as the country with the largest number of people living in poverty, surpassing India, with 1.4 billion people, in 2017. 

The UAE trip also marked the latest indication that Mr Tinubu, who was elected president despite his history of identity fraud and drug trafficking, was not ready to make the sacrifices he had imposed on Nigerians. In September, the president spent over $500,000 on a hotel stay in Manhattan while attending the United Nationals General Assembly event. 

In a previous trip to India and the UAE in October, the president spent over $1 million with his coterie of aides. Most of the funds went into hotel bookings and private jets. Many aides often receive estacodes in dollars, despite the country’s acute dollar shortages that have worsened inflation numbers in recent years. 

A spokesman for the president did not immediately return a request seeking comments, saying he was too busy on the trip. 

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