Home News GIFSEP Trains Community Activists On Lobbying Tactics

GIFSEP Trains Community Activists On Lobbying Tactics


By Eric Ojo, Abuja

Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation (GIFSEP), has trained 25 community activists on lobbying for Climate and Environmental Action and for the review of Coal Mining Act and a coal-free Nigeria.

GIFSEP is a non-profit organization founded on the ideals of environment education, climate change adaptation and mitigation, renewable energy and sustainable development. Its mission is to mobilize communities to build resilience to a changing climate, to conserve and protect the environment

The training which drew participants from coal mining impacted communities in Benue and Kogi states, was held in Abuja.

Nigeria has a significant coal reserves, currently it is estimated that the country is host to 2.8 billion tonnes of high quality lignite coal lying from the East to the Northern parts of the country. Out of 28 coal blocks identified across 12 states by the Ministry of Solid Minerals and Steel Development in its 2016 report, Kogi leads with eight blocks while Enugu State trails it with six blocks. As at today, coal mining is currently active in Kogi, Benue and Gombe state.

The environmental impact of coal mining cannot be overemphasized, from mining, transportation, washing to burning and waste disposal. Moreover, burning coal poses severe health, human and environmental effects. Evidence around the world have shown that anywhere coal is mined the host community suffer.

Notably, emissions are responsible for respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular disease, asthma attacks, brain damage and cancer. Others include pollution and depletion of surface or groundwater and a major contributor to global climate change.

The objective of the training is to build the capacity of activists on lobbying as a campaign tool for canvassing for coal-free society and to strengthen and build a relationship between environmental actors and members of the Nigerian Parliament.

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To achieve this lofty goal, the participants took part in practical sessions which included mock lobbying exercise aimed at honing their advocacy skills, particularly in the aspect of lobbying for review of extant mining laws in the country.

Prior to the practical sessions, the participants were taken through the nitty-gritty of lobbying and building relationship with the relevant stakeholders in the legislative process.

Executive Director of GIFSEP and Africa Regional Coordinator of CCI, Mr. David Michael Terungwa took the participants through the 5-levers of building political will and engaging with members of the parliament. He also gave some tips on how to go about building successful relationships, adding that it is imperative to understand and uphold the values and constraints of the people involved in the Lobbying process.

Earlier in his paper entitled, “Parliamentary Procedures and the Place of Lobbying in the Legislative Process”, a Senior Staff in the Office of Senate President, Mr. Kelvin Dzeremo gave an overview of the legislative process and the concept of lobbying

Mr. Dzeremo observed that since laws affect people, organizations and society in various ways and in varying degrees, it therefore becomes common for those whose interests are likely to be affected by the proposed law or those who would like to benefit from same, to seek avenues to have such interests captured or protected at the formative stages of the legislation. This, according to him, is called lobbying.

He also described lobbying as the subtle but persistent effort to influence legislation in one’s favour, adding that it is done by tracking a proposed bill at the point of its introduction and engaging its sponsored and other concerned legislators on issues contained in the bill.

“It is worthy of note, that legislative lobbying is a key component of the legislative process as it ensures that the laws ultimately made are relevant to the issues they seeks to address. While lobbying could be viewed as a selfish endeavor, it shores up the knowledge of legislators who may be involved with law-making decisions but ignorant of the facts in issue.

“These representatives are not all-knowing or infallible, and are prone to errors, thus requiring experts for direction and hence, the need for lobbying”, he added.

He therefore harped on the need for lobbyists to build cordial and effective relationship with legislators through meetings, noting lobbyists must focus legislators for strategic meetings by evaluating their key influences with regards to the proposed legislation.

He also pointed out that it must be understood that some legislators who support certain legislation, do so in ignorance. According to him, it is the duty of the lobbyist, as a subject matter expert, to translate complex subjects into clear and understandable terms for legislators.

“Since elected officials come different educational and professional backgrounds and cannot be experts on all policy matters. Relying on these facts, lobbyists use research, data and their specialized skills and knowledge of the issues to fill those gaps and ensure that legislators make informed decisions in formulating the legislation”, he further explained.

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