May 29, 2015 was a remarkable day for Nigeria as a nation, when the handing over took place and a new government mounted the saddle. Lots of promises were made to tackle climate change and environment issues. With this, fellow citizens are now ready to track and see how the signal sent out by the new government would be implemented.
What needs to be monitored are the promises made and what mechanisms will be deployed to implement these processes. Also to be watched closely are all the sectors – civil societies or youth groups to be carried along to work with the government in the implementation of this promise.
To confront climate change however, it is vital to have an understanding of the subject matter. Thus, climate change refers to an increase in average global temperatures. And one of the known factors that contributes to increase in average global temperatures are natural events and human activities primarily caused by upsurge in greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Nigeria is currently experiencing adverse climate conditions with negative impacts on the welfare of millions of people, and, the main suspect for this havoc is none other than climate change. As it stands, Africa, which Nigeria is part of, will be worst hit by the effects of climate change should things be left unattended to.
According to a 2007 study commissioned by the World Bank, Nigeria accounts for roughly one-sixth of the global gas flaring which in turn spews some 400 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, the World Bank survey also listed Nigeria and 15 other oil producers as countries that have progressively reduced gas flaring. What this portends is that the impact of the change will be difficult to handle, as it will be potentially very long lasting. As such the scientific evidence on global warming is strengthening daily, and there are risks over and above those that are usually considered. This disproportionate impact on Nigeria will be for a combination of reasons. Also, there is glaring evidence that climate change is not only happening, but it is equally changing people’s lives. Already, declining rainfall in desert-prone areas in northern Nigeria is causing cumulative desertification. This is making the former food basket in central Nigeria, now empty. And people in the coastal areas who used to depend on fishing have also seen their livelihoods destroyed by the rising waters.
Adapting to climate variability and mitigating its impacts is something that everyone does in everyday lives. It is vital to understand what climate change is, how humans contribute to it, and how they can adapt and reduce their vulnerabilities, among others.
And with the current government promising Nigerians the following:
- Ensure compliance with policies and measures to halt the pollution of rivers and waterways in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country;
- Create shelter belts in states bordering the Sahara Desert to mitigate and reverse the effects of the expanding desert;
- Support and accelerate the implementation of regional water transfer initiatives across the country;
- Adopt a holistic approach to erosion and shoreline protection across the country;
- Create teams of volunteers to plant and nurture economically viable trees in arid regions;
- Restructure the Ecological Fund Office to enable it meet today’s environmental challenges;
- Regulate the timber industry to ensure that double the number of trees felled are planted by the loggers;
- Ensure full compliance with town-planning and environmental laws and edicts.
With these listed points, it is obvious Nigeria can heave a sigh of relief and think ‘yes, the much expected change is actually at our doorstep’. Also, for climate change advocates, the listed points are strongly supported and being already visualized as realities if the government shows a committed signal to all sectors in implementing these plans.
Without mincing words, climate change is of great concern to the health of every nation including Nigeria. Government is therefore expected to boost financial obligation towards finding a lasting solution to the issue of climate change. However, inadequate funding could hamper progress in achieving Nigeria’s objectives on climate change. The Nigerian government and all concerned in this global phenomenon need to increase public awareness, promote research and establish a commission or an agency that will handle issues related to global warming and climate change.
At the Federal, state and local government levels, development partners and international agencies, all are required to set aside and commit funds to issues of climate change projects in Nigeria for a more sustainable solution in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This can only be done if we put our promises into practices.