Should we all go “Plane” crazy? By Peter Ikechukwu

If you pay a visit to the United Nations Climate Change ‘Cop 28’ website, you will find various statements proudly announcing the aims of their yearly summits.

Part of it says they serve as the formal meeting of the United Nations FCCC parties (Conference of the Parties, COP) to negotiate and agree on actions to tackle climate change, limit emissions and halt global warming. This year’s COP28 UAE in Dubai is targeted at providing a milestone opportunity for the world to come together, course correct, and drive progress.

While the 2023 event has been largely successful, rumours that the President of this year’s session, Sultan Ahmed al Jaber, said there is no science behind calls to phase out fossil fuels as a way of limiting global warming might have left a sour taste in the mouths of climate change advocates.

That said, countries relying on crude oil trade as their primary national income earner (this includes the UAE) are (understandably?) not going to be very enthusiastic about the march of climate change advocacy.

One can only imagine how upset the most popular climate change advocate, Greta Thunberg, is right now. The heat radiating from her famous red face is, no doubt, helping to warm her Swedish apartment. Or, in the case of her Nigerian counterpart, Adenike Oladosu, keeping her beans on the boil. But Greta and Adenike can only do so much.

The fallout from this will be widespread and, perhaps, remain a talking point until next year’s Cop 29 – wherever that may be.

While we are on the subject of proportionate reactions to news…

The Nigerian delegation flew into Cop 28 in the UAE and, as expected, social media was keen to offer observations on their arrival.

President Tinubu and his immediate entourage were filmed entering their hotel but certain parties seemed upset that his son, Seyi Tinubu, was also seen in the entourage, especially as he had apparently flown in on the same plane as the President and his team.

Other self-sponsored members of the contingent from Nigeria have also come under similar criticism. Understandably, government expenses should be measured – considering the times we are in.

At the same time, factual commentary would be conscious of the fact that less than a quarter of the total number were government-sponsored – and the relatively small government team was sponsored by multiple Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), not the Presidency itself as the commentary would have us think.

That said; as you may have already observed, there seems to be a fascination towards Seyi Tinubu and planes that is starting to border on obsession. I’m beginning to think an army of planespotters are patrolling all the airports, checking to see if Seyi is boarding or disembarking.

First, there was the furore over the incident involving Seyi’s trip to a Polo tournament, where taking a private plane without his President was deemed as unforgivable. Now, we find ourselves in a position where travelling on the same flight is also an unacceptable transgression.

Could you imagine if Seyi had taken a private plane to this ‘climate conference’? The ‘spotters’ would have been apoplectic over his thoughtless carbon footprint.

Although he has no official role in the government, Seyi is often seen escorting his father to events. However, even after helping the President to win the election this year, many deem this relation

A close source of Seyi Tinubu commented:“It’s always something. Seyi paid for his own room during the stay and yes, did indeed travel here with the delegation, as he felt it would be the practical choice – for obvious reasons. He is simply here to support his father, that’s all.”

I’m sure the ‘spotters’ will be eagerly tracking the Presidential plane when it touches down at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, desperate to grab yet another photo of ‘supersonic’ Seyi.

I only wish these individuals would expend as much energy covering the current climate catastrophe, its impact on the weather, agriculture and food production, flooding, or other associated core issues, as they do on Seyi Tinubu’s ongoing collection of frequent flyer miles.

Peter Ikechukwu, a social commentator, writes from Enugu