“How to stop global warming?” is one of the essential questions raised within International summits and meetings devoted to environmental protection. This process requires immediate concerted efforts of all countries around the world. They have already felt the harmful influence of climate change: drought, floods, hurricanes, and tornados – these natural phenomena occur more often in such areas, one may hardly ever expect it to be!
Prevention of global warming
Global warming is a process when one can observe a gradual magnification of the mean annual temperature of both the atmosphere and surface area of the Earth as well as the World Ocean. It happens due to various reasons connected with the concentration of warming gases in the atmosphere, volcanic or solar activity, etc.
Rather often, a word-combination “greenhouse effect” is used as a synonym to a notion “global warming”. One has to mention that there is a slight difference between these two notions.
The greenhouse effect is the phenomenon, which denotes heating within the Earth’s surface, lower atmosphere and the World Ocean because of a big concentration of greenhouse gases (methane, carbon dioxide, water vapor, etc.). At daytime, the sunlight penetrates through the atmosphere. Its warmth heats the surface. At night, the planet cools down, releasing the warmth, which is later accumulated in the upper levels of the atmosphere.
This evaporation plays a role of a glass greenhouse. Gases freely increase the temperatures and cause the melt of the Arctic ice and enlargement of the sea level.
What actions can prevent global heating?
Be smart – drive Less. One can use alternative means of transportation like bikes. If you still can’t imagine your life without a car, try to diminish the volume of CO2 generated by your vehicle: hold the tires of a vehicle nicely pumped up. This action can improve the petrol mileage by more than 3 percent. Moreover, the world of car industry has hugely enhanced its efficiency during the last years. The buyers are also offered to try electric and hybrid cars.
Save and safe. The consumption cycle is one of the ways to enlarge global climate change: large factories produce new clothes each day due to the high level of demand in the market. When one starts wearing used clothes, he helps to reduce the number of resources necessary for production as well as for recycling useless garments. The less you buy, the more you do for the environment.
Reuse, reduce and recycle. Every day millions of goods are sold. Each of them has got a package. To help our planet “breathe” more freely, one should start to buy products with minimal packaging. At present, people learn to reuse plastic bottles as containers for plant growing. Small scraps of fabric can turn into a beautiful blanket for fans of patchwork etc. Plastic, paper, and iron belong to a category of recyclable materials. Special organizations provide help to motivate people to collect and recycle them.
Wise house or heat less. Make sure that your house is insolated with special materials, which help to save warmth inside the house and spend less electricity.
Save energy! Old lamps need much energy to work properly. The new-age technologies allow people to get the same results with less harm: use fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs to save your time and money.
Lower electricity consumption. If you cannot change the environment within 1 second, you can proceed small steps on a way to perfect future. Switch the light off, leaving the room, the flat or a house. Switch all techniques off if you don’t use it at the moment. Consume that “enough”, which is necessary.
The green lungs of the earth. Use a possibility to plant a tree or two. These plants produce oxygen and consume carbon dioxide. If people plant more trees, the clearer environment will possess.
Think “green” or Facebook, Twitter and Social Network help either! Millions of people use their gadgets and have no idea that these technologies can bring use to climate change: one can share information about the ways to reuse some packages, old clothes and useless things in a new way; one can arrange competitions and clear the neighboring area. Become an example of a person showing that “being green” is normal. It helps to make the Earth healthier.
Alternative energy. Alternative resources are an ideal means that belongs to inexhaustible resources. Moreover, solar panels or wind stations produce electricity without CO2 emission.
Save water. It takes much time and resources to renovate the quality of water. Try to make the shower shorter and more efficient (use special showerheads, which use 50% water and 50% air).
Support local food manufacturers. People can’t live without food. But have you ever thought about the number of efforts and resources were put to produce, pack and deliver a product onto a shelf of a supermarket and a shop? Large vehicles drive enormous distances, consume plenty of the petrol and produce CO2. Each day millions of cars repeat the action. If one supports his local manufacturer, he decreases a demand in the market and saves resources.
Rethink your transportation. The planes are said to be the primary source of air pollution. If you can drive by train or by bus, do that and save the nature.
Control of global warming
It is evident that in future humankind will have to attempt strict control of global warming. One may already see the results of climate shift now. The situation may become even worse so that humans will become extinct. Sounds frightening, isn’t it?
One may ask a question whether it is possible to control CO2 emission. At present, the development of regulatory documents and their improvement is a great work done by all countries together. Many countries have assumed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992) and the Kyoto Protocol (1999).
Unfortunately, many countries that have the highest percentage of CO2 emission have rejected the latter one.
How to prevent global warming
The development of a new, environmentally friendly nation is an essential task for each country. The experts think that the strategy of overcoming global resource crisis should include the following steps:
develop a “healthy energy” economy – to get effectual technologies involved in the industry;
widen the usage of revolving energy (alternative sources);
сhange the current energetic system into a less dependent (on gas, coal, etc.) and healthier one;
reduce energy consumption and make it more efficient;
restore forests to enlarge natural carbon dioxide absorbers from the atmosphere.
The full damage, done by humanity to the environment, cannot be compensated within one or even ten years. But, small steps on the way to bright future are worth taking! Nature does not forgive mistakes. Anyone who learns to live in peace with the environment sooner or later will be rewarded and ensure a healthy future for his children.
This story, originally published by Legit, has been shared as part of World News Day 2021, a global campaign to highlight the critical role of fact-based journalism in providing trustworthy news and information in service of humanity. #JournalismMatters.
Looking at Mr Innocent Okparah, as a smile lights up his handsome fair face, it is hard to imagine that just some months ago, he was battling to stay alive in the hospital.
But that was exactly the case. For almost two weeks, Okparah danced between earth and the great beyond.
But he is now full of life.
Okparah pulled up a chair, sat down and looked straight into the eyes of Juliana, our crime journalist. His smile slipped as recollections flashed through his mind.
Settling further into his chair, he recounted his bloody encounter with the Americans and military men, saying: “I was beaten with guns, boots and fists. It was just too much for me. I couldn’t fight back. They overpowered me.”
Okparah may have forgotten many unpleasant events, but he will never forget the day armed soldiers – allegedly working for the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) – gave him the beating of his life.
The assault intensified after Okparah attempted to use his smart phone to take snapshots of the soldiers and BEDC officials. For his temerity, he had to spend weeks in the hospital fighting to live.
Aside from Okparah, other victims have also claimed to have experienced the same encounter with soldiers and white men. BEDC officials also tried to disconnect the power supply to their homes.
Despite sounding irrational, the beatings were discovered to be over the struggle for possession and ownership of electrical wires, ladders, power disconnections and estimated billings.
Consumers wanted their electrical wires handed back to them after they were disconnected, insisting they had purchased them. However, the BEDC refused to release the items.
For many Nigerians, it was abnormal to see DISCO officials, armed soldiers and white men coming to disconnect power supplies , but residents of Benin, Edo State, alleged that it was an everyday occurrence, which they had now got used to.
The acronym DISCO refers to electricity Distribution Companies in Nigeria.
Our correspondent gathered that many electric consumers are petrified of going to the media, fearful that the soldiers might pay them an unscheduled visit.
This was even after human rights activists dented the trend after ferociously fighting against such practices.
Recalling the encounter, Okparah said: “We had been hearing about it, but that day was my first experience. The BEDC officials came with military men and white men! After disconnecting the light, we told them that we wouldn’t allow them to go with our wires.”
“Four Nigerian soldiers fought me. They tore my clothes, flogged me, used their boots on me and hit me with their guns. I resisted to an extent, but I finally succumbed because I couldn’t contend with the power of four military men, who were fully armed.”
Okparah added that the new chapter opened by BEDC was difficult and consumers couldn’t cope. He explained that BEDC was urged to return to the original operating system, but it allegedly refused.
He said: “They became mad and we joined in their madness, and then they brought soldiers. They disconnected our house, we told them no problem, but that the ladder and wires belonged to us. We bought them with our hard earned money. The only thing that belonged to them was the energy.”
Okparah disclosed that the fight with BEDC started in 2017 after a court case, where DISCO was instructed to stop disconnecting consumers until further notice. He said that BEDC failed to recognise and respect the judiciary, so consumers also decided not to obey and respect the company.
“BEDC was doing illegal billing. The court judgement was given in Lagos and we wanted them to adhere to it, but they refused. We decided to protest their billing system. We decided to pay what we feel we consumed. Most of us know our billings and nothing was removed or added in our electrical consumptions, so how come the billings increased?
“Assuming your bill before was N5,000(US$13) or N10,000 and you’re suddenly given a bill of between N30,000 and N45,000, what will you do?”
That was our case. Part of the court order was that if a bill is being contested, the consumer should be allowed to pay what he or she was being billed before.”
He claimed that some bills even surpassed the consumer’s rent.
Some apartments had bills that increased from N1,500 to N5,000 while the rent for the apartments cost N3,000.
He added: “The court asked them to return to the original billing system, but BEDC refused. While we were busy paying our normal original billing system, they were busy compiling their new system of billings for us, which we had earlier refused to pay.”
After Okparah walked out of hospital, he embarked on a quest for justice, supported by the Edo Civil Society Organisation (EDOCSO).
He reported the situation to the Nigerian Army, the Police and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS). He demanded that the white men should be investigated for human rights violations and be repatriated.
Okparah shared that he filed a complaint against the soldiers at 4th Brigade of the Nigerian Army and also petitioned the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.
It was discovered that the white men were working closely with some DISCO officials in three different states. The soldiers were attached to the white men.
Okparah also learnt that the white men were in Nigeria under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the Power Africa Project.
“We heard that another company brought them to Nigeria and the arrangement was that each white man should be escorted by two soldiers. So, they are now using those military men to molest people. We are law-abiding citizens because we obey the court order,” Okparah said.
“When the Army called me about the matter, they asked me if I wanted the soldiers to be sacked, I responded that they were my brothers. There was no way I could watched them being laid off just because they became stupid by obeying total strangers. The truth is that I expected the soldiers to realise that as Nigerians, we are all brothers,” said Okparah.
Shaking his head in disbelief, the man said that despite everything, BEDC’s crazy billings have not stopped.
The New Telegraph learnt that because of BEDC rights violations, human rights activists in the state teamed up and embarked on a series of protests, often staged at the front of BEDC’s head office in Benin, demanding that the firm and its Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Funke Osibudu, should go.
The Coordinator General of Edo State Civil Society Organisations (EDOSCO), Leftist Omobude Agho, also had an encounter with the soldiers, white men and BEDC officials.
Agho said he received a call that power to his apartment was about to be disconnected and immediately rushed over to his community, to find out what was going on.
He was shocked to see armed soldiers, white men and BEDC officials.
Agho said he initially tried to reason with the delegation, but the situation soon snowballed when he was barked at and ordered to sit on the ground.
He was speechless with outrage. The incident occurred on Medical Road, Benin, where Agho lives.
He said: “I was in the middle of the meeting when I received a call that some white men and soldiers were at my house and wanted to disconnect my light. They said that I owed electricity bill.
“When I got there, I was annoyed. I went to meet the sales manager of BEDC, later identified as Mr. Ayiayi, who was also there. I asked what led to white men, who are foreigners, coming to our land with soldiers to harass us. He said that he was sorry; that the white men were from BEDC headquarters.”
“I was still speaking with him when one of the soldiers pointed his rifle at me and asked the sales manager if I was the one. The next thing I knew, the soldier placed the nozzle of his rifle at my chest and ordered me to sit on the ground. I didn’t know if the gun was corked or not.
According to Agho, when he started writing petitions against the military men and reached the DSS office, the DSS boss said his men were not attached to BEDC.
Agho said that although he had heard of such incidents, his own experience was an eye-opener. Armed with this experience and knowledge, he petitioned the Nigeria Police Force, DSS and Nigerian Immigration Service, to call for thorough investigations of the activities of the white men.
“Initially, we found such stories hard to believe until it came to our doorsteps. Nobody had been brave enough to take snapshots of them in operation. Mr. Innocent Okparah who tried it was almost killed. The soldiers and BEDC workers do not want to be captured on video or picture. Okparah spent two weeks in the hospital.”
Agho said that customers’ challenge with BEDC was not getting better, with everyone angry and the atmosphere tensed. According to him, Edo State indigenes no longer want the contract of BEDC to be renewed.
Agho, who said that the only solution to such human rights abuses was for the revocation of BEDC’s licence, added that opportunity should be given to someone, serious about providing power supply to take over.
Mr. Kelly Osunbor Omokaro also has a story to tell, but not as shocking as that of Okparah and Agho.
Omokaro explained that he was able to achieve peace, because of his vast experience in working with security agents and understanding their minds and psychological dispositions. The incident occurred at Oko GRA, Airport Road, where Omokaro lives.
He said: “The time was about 11am. I was at home when I heard my security guard knocking at my door. I opened my door and saw BEDC officials standing at the gate; I went out to meet them. I noticed that two soldiers and some policemen were with them. The policemen were not in uniform. They said we bypassed our meters.”
“On that day, they asked why my meter was bypassed. A BEDC lady led the delegation, but a soldier was the person asking questions. They were 13 people, including soldiers, policemen and BEDC officials.
“I explained about the court injunction on ground. I presented them with a copy of the court’s judgement and where BEDC was asked to revise the N13.50k, which they added on the tariff. Before increasing, BEDC was supposed to call a meeting where we discuss and negotiate the price increment. Thus they failed to do so and refused also to obey court order.
“If I was not well-grounded with the rules and regulations of the military, I would probably have started shaking and begging at the sight of the military and other uniform men.”
Omokaro said that he knew and had cordial relationship with some military commanders in the state. He said that when the soldiers noticed how he spoke, they were taken aback.
They soon relaxed their hostile stance.
The soldiers decided to return to BEDC office, insisting that Omokaro made a lot of sense with his argument.
“Four Nigerian soldiers fought me. They tore my clothes, flogged me, used their boots on me and hit me with their guns. I resisted to an extent, but I finally succumbed because I couldn’t contend with the power of four military men, who were fully armed.”
According to Omokaro, the Edo State people’s argument is that before such increase, BEDC should call a stakeholders’ meeting.
He said he went to BEDC headquarters to register his displeasure and renew argument, where some of the staff he meant on the ground told him that some of them were even suffering more than the consumers because, “their salaries had been slashed with almost 70 per cent.
They said that their welfare was now quite poor compared to the era of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).”
Omokaro said that he made efforts to report the soldiers and also to find out about their connection to BEDC. But the Army in the state only promised to look into the matter.
He said that even BEDC’s MD, Funke Osibudu, had military details attached to her. He said that Osibudu was the owner of BEDC and actually did buy it from the government.
“She is guarded night and day by soldiers. She stays at Protea Hotel in Benin. Go there right now; you’ll find soldiers everywhere. Even if you go to BEDC headquarters, you will see soldiers there. According to our law, the only person entitled to be guarded by soldiers is the Nigerian President. Even the Edo State governor is not guarded by soldiers. He is only guarded by police and DSS operatives. But to be guarding a private citizen, even down to the hotel she stays is against the law,” Omokaro fumed.
He added: “If you are spending more days in Benin and move around, you will hear a lot of stories. The major problem is that because soldiers are involved, victims shy away from speaking out. They are all afraid.”
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of EDOCSO, Comrade Osazee Edigin, said the fight against such rights violations by BEDC had been on for years.
He remembered that on December 25, 2015, BEDC officials with soldiers went into a community at Country Home Road, off Sapele Road and attempted to disconnect the community transformer because some people owed electricity bills.
Edigin noted that the BEDC officials stormed the community in two trucks filled with soldiers. The disagreement was over estimated billing.
On August 15, The New Telegraphs’ correspondent, Julia Francis, went to the BEDC headquarters to see Osibudu, but the effort was futile. She was directed to the Assistant General Manager (AGM), Corporate Affairs Office.
At the BEDC headquarters, there were three soldiers in full uniform. One of them, patrolling the outside perimeter of the building, was armed.
The Head of Public Affairs, BEDC, Mr. Tayo Adekunle, was not around, but Mr Ibeh Odoh, his assistant, attended to the Julia.
Reacting to allegations that their company uses soldiers to harass, intimidate and brutalise energy consumers, among other atrocities, Odoh said it was a pack of lies.
He said, “ Those white men are USAID members working with BEDC. They are not our staff; they are more like technical partners, under USAID Power Africa Project.”
When asked why BEDC officials in company with the white men and soldiers struggle for possession of electrical wires with their consumers, Odoh explained: “We collect the wires to discourage customers from reconnecting illegally. Before we embark on disconnection, we usually give first, second and third warnings.”Speaking further on soldiers brutalising customers, Odoh said: “If there are victims, let them come to our office to complain and we shall carry out investigations.”
The New Telegraph’s correspondent also contacted the US Embassy, Lagos to question it about the allegations of human rights violations.
On September 5, she contacted Mr. Sani Mohammed, Senior Information Specialist, US Embassy, Public Section, Abuja.
He replied the following day, asking for further information about the journalist and the story she was working on.This information was provided and emailed to him.
However, as at the time of filing this report no response has been provided.
This story is a compilation of articles from Oct 18, 2018 to Oct 25, 2018.
BEHIND THE STORY
The story is about the energy crisis in Nigeria with special focus on victims of the Benin Electricity Company (BEDC), a firm that handles power distribution in Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ekiti states. The report detailed the pains of the consumers in the hands of BEDC using the military to intimidate and brutalise them. New Telegraph’s Crime Editor, Juliana Francis, who went to the Edo State to speak with the actors involved. The saga began after a court case in 2017, where DISCO (electricity Distribution Companies in Nigeria) was instructed to stop disconnecting consumers until further notice. The BEDC failed to recognise and respect the judiciary, so consumers also decided not to obey and respect the company. After the publication of the report, the Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, openly decried the capacity of the electricity company. Also, the Benin traditional leaders have visited President Muhammadu Buhari to make similar complaints. Already, BEDC have told electricity consumers that it is working hard in addressing the challenges. However, no punitive measures have been taken against the soldiers used to deal with the electricity consumers. The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has declared that the electricity firms lack the capacity and infrastructure to provide power supply to Nigerians. Consequently, the Federal Government has vowed to look into the entire privatisation process.
Angelle Burrus (nee Udo) was just months old in her mother’s womb when her father Ndubuisi Dele Udo, a Nigerian-American athlete, was killed in Lagos.
With the help of The Nation, Nigeria’s widest circulating newspaper, Angelle reunited with her long lost kin 37 years later.
An interior decoration professional who lives in St Louis, Missouri, United States, Angelle grew up and married without knowing her father or any of his Nigerian -based family.
An international sprinter, her father was in Lagos for a tournament when he was shot by a policeman during an argument in traffic.
Based on all she heard about her father from her mother and what she read from a collection of 32 newspaper articles, stories and pictures, Angelle’s desire had always been to reconnect with her father’s relatives, especially the Udo family back in Nigeria.
A chance meeting in St. Louis Missouri last December with Taiwo Abiodun a US-based journalist who writes for The Nation presented Angelle the opportunity she had been looking for.
Expressing her desire to the paper, she told her story well enough to get what she had always wanted.
“My name is Angelle Burrus (nee Udo). I am 37 years old, please I want to come to Nigeria to locate my father’s family and see where he was buried,” she said in the report titled ‘I Want To Know My Father’s Family in Nigeria, says late Dele Udo’s daughter’ that was published on Dec 30, 2018. “Please write my story. All I want is to meet my father’s siblings and see my father’s grave in Nigeria,” Angelle declared.
Within hours of the publication’s release, the hitherto hard to find Udo family members who read about Angelle reached out to her on Facebook.
In her Facebook post, an excited Angelle wrote about the link she had looked forward to finding for years:
“I FOUND MY NIGERIAN FAMILY.
Dec-7th met Taiwo Abiodun in Missouri
Dec-9th interview conducted about the death of my father 37 years ago.
Dec-30th article published in Nigeria.
Jan-3rd FaceTimed w/her, uncle Luke Udo and cousin Oke ( Nkechi’s brother).
On this day I find out Oke lives 1hr away
Jan-5 First in person meeting with cousin Oke and his wife Dami. He’s the first person EVER to meet me in person from my Nigerian family.
God is amazing I am so blessed and happy!”
To help Angelle accomplish her dream, The Nation’s correspondent in South-Eastern Nigeria where the late Udoh hailed from, Okechukwu Nwankwo ,was briefed by the Lagos headquarters and went in search of her family members back home.
After a series of enquiries, he found Angelle’s stepmother, younger brother, close friend and other acquaintances who were glad to know that the baby Angelle’s mother was carrying when she attended her husband’s burial was indeed alive and keen on meeting them.
A second story was published on Jan 13 titled ‘Late Dele Udo: We are eager to receive his American daughter, wife – Family members’.
“When the news about Angelle trying to reconnect with the father’s family members surfaced in your newspaper, we were very happy. You know at that time, it was only Dele that was the breadwinner, but now, his siblings are doing well in their endeavours. We will be happy to receive her,” said the late Udo’s step mother, Joy Okechukwu.
“Please write my story. All I want is to meet my father’s siblings and see my father’s grave in Nigeria,” Angelle declared.
Udo’s younger brother also spoke about Angelle’s interest in meeting the family: “I think her quest to meet with her father’s family is genuine. 36 years of not knowing any members of her father’s family is long. We had expected this to happen before now, but we are happy she is alive and willing to reunite with her family”
Angelle’s mother, Angella who was initially reluctant to speak with Abiodun about her late husband, was eventually convinced to do so. Her interview titled ‘My lasting memories of Dele Udoh’ was published on Aug 25.
She is happy that her daughter eventually found her father’s family. She had always told Angelle that it was up to her to look for her father’s family and she (Angella) could not do that for her daughter.
While she would be happy to come to Nigeria if invited by the government, Angella who still retains her marriage name, said emotionally “I was (a) bride, a woman, mum and a widow in one year. I am going to write a book on it.”
Comments on Angelle’s social media post on finding her Nigerian family incited excitement amongst relatives and friends as well as highlighted the impact the publication had made on her life.
Some of the comments included:
Janet Burrus: Wow. Angelle this is awesome …exactly what you have been seeking. You know you are part of our family, but now you know your roots, have blood relatives, you can talk with and answers.
Gail Feldman: I cried when I read this article. Finally after all these years- answers, stories, connections- your dad is alive through you and through your relatives. Beautiful
Luke Udo: We’re all excited my dear, it’s just the beginning, you definitely going to Nigeria soon with me to meet the rest, can’t wait for the trip
Lilian Ify Udo: Can’t wait to meet U and your lovely family. Thanks to all my family member’s for their effort and response to the search/media. Y’all did amazing beautiful in reaching out to Angelle. This is the Lord’s doing.
This story is a compilation of articles by Taiwo Abiodun and Okechukwu Nwankwo that was originally published by The Nation from Dec 30, 2018 to Aug 25.
BEHIND THE STORY
Angelle’s re-connection with her father’s family would not have been possible if not for US-based Journalist Taiwo Abiodun’s article, which enabled the first contact between both parties in 37 years to happen within twenty four hours of publishing the first story. The Nation correspondent, Okechukwu Nwankwo, also aided the reunion’s success as he spent the last days of 2018 searching for Angelle’s family through various contacts.Nation journalist Abiodun had gone with his wife to the African Palace Restaurant in St Louis owned by a Nigerian when she was introduced to Angelle, daughter of late Udo, who was also visiting the restaurant at that time.
With the support of a friend, Lobo Agaun and his wife, Abiodun was able to book an interview with Angelle at a Mcdonald’s eatery after several phone calls.
Convincing Angella, Angelle’s mother, to speak was much more difficult as she initially declined. With his persistence and support of his wife, Ronnie, Abiodun was finally able to get the 74-year-old woman to eventually open up and talk about her late husband. Through the effort of these reporters, Angelle was able to understand the family she had always longed to meet.