Most of the African countries are lagging behind in terms of the overall Industrial growth and employment opportunities for the local citizens. So, a robust growth plan and some honest execution is much required at this point in time. That said, there are certain people like NJ Ayuk that have come as a roadblock for any such development in the favour of the African citizens. 

NJ Ayuk of the African Energy Chamber has blatantly changed the regulations to defend the oil and gas business. He is nothing more than a businessman angry at western economic pressures for driving Africa to go green. From his strange dress code to his populist swagger and pro-fossil fuel rhetoric, he is shameless in his belief that Africa should be allowed to develop natural gas, even though he acknowledges climate change.

I was creating an African narrative about Ayuk. I saw on social media that he will speak at the Euro African Forum in Portugal alongside the President.

He was also scheduled to debate Portugal’s former environment minister, Joo Pedro Matos Fernandes. I knew it’d be good. Other speakers included José Manuel Duro Barroso, chairman of the EurAfrican Forum, Joseph P. McMonigle, secretary-general of the International Energy Forum, Benedict OkechukwuOramah, president and chairman of Afreximbank, António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, Marcelo Nuno Duarte Rebelo de Sousa, president of Portugal, and Cape Verdean President José Maria Neves.

Front seats were VIP. He declined VIP seating. He went backstage. He sat quietly with a notepad, while his assistant/bodyguard sat next to him.

During the break, a few admirers, largely white and European, approached him to shake his hand. You didn’t know if they liked him or just wanted to humanize a character that supports the oil and gas sector unapologetically.

I approached him and he recognized me. He looked at me with scorn, smiled, and said, “You’re Fake News.” You won’t stop me from fighting for Africa’s oil and gas industry. My questions were ignored. Dismayed, I stared at him blankly. His honesty was appreciated. Reuters, Forbes, and a teenage activist mopped him up. One of his answers was revealing. You knew he had a well-planned strategy and the climate activists outside were naive.

Professor asked him about decarbonization strategy. Ayuk: “We must drill more gas and produce more gas rapidly and immediately.” What’s the African Energy Chamber’s strategy for success? “Oil-and-gas-believing Africans and Europeans must distract, debate, and excite. 

I’m supposed to interrupt them. Focus on our personal condition using essential daily issues like energy poverty, jobs, personal responsibility, and free markets to destroy the current belief system and motivate Africans to become, as Mother Theresa would say, “a pencil in God’s hand” and start a new chapter in their life.

He encouraged Europeans to decarbonize swiftly because Africa must industrialize. He said their energy policy incompetence makes Russia and China laugh. When the Minister of Environment and Energy Transition questioned Ayuk’s pro-oil and gas attitude, he replied, “You are why politicians shouldn’t be involved in energy matters.” It’s global warming, not Africa warming, so global solutions are needed and Africans shouldn’t pay for European pollution. 

The Minister was outraged because Ayuk had insulted him by calling natural gas “Green Gas” He was smart. He knew the Minister would lose his cool if he hammered him on fossil fuels. The Minister lost his temper when he kept pounding him with oil and gas facts. He didn’t let Minister’s emotional response affect him.

“European and African politicians’ activities against the oil and gas business would chill energy workers and our energy security.” The African Energy Chamber is resisting climate activists’ attempt to block the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, Mozambique LNG, South African Seismic programs, and other oil and gas projects in Africa. Free markets, not dumb activists, should drive transition. Ayuk continued

A skilled debater, he informs the audience, “Africa’s green gas is still the only source of abundant, cheap, and reliable energy, not pricey solar and wind” Ayuk calmly told the gathering, “Oil and Gas are crucial to industrial civilization and made it feasible from the start.” Even Jesus liked natural gas, and oil and gas industrialization brought Western prosperity and excellent living standards. Why not? Industrialization and freer markets are reducing absolute and energy poverty in China and India. Some in Europe think Africans don’t deserve it.

Luis Magalhaes opposes Ayuk’s oil and gas beliefs. “Having a figure that wants more oil and gas talk here is harmful. Bad taste! I can’t believe a nice guy would sell out to the oil industry. Free markets are his faith”

Carlos Sousa favored Ayuk. No one should prohibit Africans from exploiting their gas to develop. Themselves. Even God offers heaven and hell. “Ayuk is going to hell for not supporting climate change.”

Ayuk’s grasp of his scary fossil fuels language is captivating and clever, and he consistently promotes a pluralistic vision. Indirectly, Ayuk’s is a punching bag for those who dislike the oil and gas business. This causes me to rethink Ayuk’s symbolism, person, behaviors, and thoughts.