Opinion: Nigeria’s floods -A call to action on climate change

by Amusa Temitope Victor


The rains can no longer be predicted, the simple agrarian African setting is groaning. It seems a curse has hit the land as all seem to be at extreme measures.

From unstable weather patterns to diminishing water supply and poor water quality, from dwindling agriculture to poor food production, from deteriorating human health to shelter, from attendant hard times on vulnerable population especially women and children to massive disruption in Eco balance, climate change threats are evidently pervading the length and breadth of Africa. The typical communal lifestyle that characterized Africa is being threatened and measures formerly taken by leaders of clans and villages have failed, the quest for a detailed explanation of the eventualities of these threats is daily on the lips of residents.

Nigeria with a population of over 180 million people has actually earned its ranking as the most populous black nation, making it a case study on significant impact metrics of the damning consequences of climate change.

The devastating results of flash flooding that in times past (and even now) ravaged the entire nation is not news. In the last half of the year 2012, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), 363 people were killed and over 2.1 million people displaced, 30 out of Nigeria’s 36 states was affected. It was estimated that the losses and destructions associated with the floods were worth about N2.6 trillion. The recent flooding in Benue has displaced over 100,000 persons. These floods have led to a drastic decline in crop yields and livestock productivity, as they are most times lethal, especially in densely populated city shanties or even rural areas, where there is an attendant inadequacy in the drainage system.

In Nigeria, huge stretches of inland waters are now facing environmental devastation owing to pollution as half the population is denied access to clean water due to human activities that border on climate change.

It is therefore imperative to put in place strategic financial investment in mitigating and adapting to climate change in Nigeria. There are quite a number of finance models – climate finance strategies to address climate change issues on the local and national scale.

As widely reported in the media, the figures budget for Solar Street lights installation and Solar powered water pumps in the 2017 budget are quite impressive, communities that depend majorly on burning wood for cooking now have access to Green Stoves, an innovation that allows for commercial distribution of biofuels to women in rural neighborhoods as championed by representatives of such constituencies in the legislative arm of government although still grossly inadequate but is relatively a good step in the right direction.  Nigeria seems to have a newly discovered love for renewable energy, as the diversification in power generation has led the government into exploring Solar and Wind energy in the Northern part of the country. It is believed that if explored in commercial capacities, these two energy sources can further give a boost to the struggling power sector of the nation.

It has become a national policy on the administration of ecological funds that areas prone to flooding have camps built to serve as immediate relief to people that are displaced from their homes in times of floods and as well serve as a finance vehicle to dredge blocked water ways, most of which are clogged by debris dumped into flowing water channels by residents who engage in indiscriminate disposal of waste across the country. Although there is no implementation of carbon pricing laws in Nigeria, the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) recently took a huge step at ensuring big polluters in areas of industrialized cities like Lagos State, Nigeria pay more in areas of tax to buffer projects aimed at mitigating environmental degradation, however with recent focus of the government on Green Bonds, it’s imperative that in the nearest future a proper legislation will take place and laws will be enacted to drive the quest for proper carbon trading schemes. It is, however, worth mentioning that private sector has been highly involved in the pursuit of a sustainable climate finance, a lot of big spenders in the manufacturing sector are giving a positive nod to the long-anticipated Environment Green Bonds, aimed at enabling capital-raising and investment for new and existing projects with environmental benefits.

This is a step in the right direction, indeed, as it shows Nigeria’s commitment and allegiance to the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in staring down the damning impact of climate change. This fund is as well in line with the current government’s development focus targeted at agricultural revitalization, power generation resuscitation and carbon emission targets. It is very well commendable though that when on global scene some very important stakeholders like the United States are pulling out of the Paris agreement, Nigeria is further strengthening national policies to sustain the pact through localizing climate actions, this is relatively important in sustaining the fight against climate change and mitigating its threats as we likewise adapt as a nation.

Another very commendable initiative subscribed to by Nigeria is the Great Green Wall Programme conceived to address desertification and land degradation, strengthen food security and help communities adapt to climate change in the Sahel-Sahara region of Africa.

This program is aimed at sound ecosystem management, sustainable development of land resources, protection of rural heritage and improvement of the living conditions of the indigenous populations.

These discourse won’t be complete without mentioning the Ogoni Clean Up Project. On June 2nd, 2016 in Bodo Rivers State, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, launched the clean-up project of Ogoniland. Over a year after, major activities are yet to resume and this has raised the question of sincerity on the part of the government as the usually restive Niger delta region has experienced commendable calm in the past months. The bureaucracy of involved institutions of government have been blamed for the slag, the expectations of the local residents are gradually fading away as the hope that a lot of young people in the communities affected will be gainfully employed in the process remains hanging in a balance. In recent past, vast funds have been said to have been earmarked for relative projects like Power Generation, Infrastructural development and other government social contracts with the residents, but didn’t see the light of the day as the hydra head of corruption took a large chunk of the resources leaving nothing to make the projects a reality. If the objectives of these climate financing strategies will be achieved, a lot has to be done to fight corruption in both private and public sector, the whistle blowing policies of the current administration seems also to be a giant leap from the past, however, lot is yet to be done in making corruption less attractive.

As a nation, there are still a lot of grounds to cover in areas of implementing climate finance, as the focus and objectives of which each initiative above mentioned are been strategized are very much yet achieved. We should come to an understanding that “ we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrowed it from our children” If we will go all the way to rescue the unborn generation from the consequences of our own human activities directly responsible for climate change, we would as a matter of urgency and national responsibility set in motion pro-active and serious measures of sustainable climate financing that are targeted at encouraging local climate actions with prospects of global impacts.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Amusa Temitope Victor is an Environmentalist, Social Entrepreneur and Zero-Waste Advocate. He is the Chief Executive Officer, Vicfold Recyclers- A Recycling Firm based in Ilorin Kwara State Nigeria, which Promotes Incentive Motivated Recycling. (www.vicfoldrecyclers.com). He blogs at [email protected]

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