Will Nigeria Survive the Climate Challenge?

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku
Climate change

Numbers are eternally fixed. Two is two and five is five. Two is not five and five is not two. Their combinations often produce infinite results. Two plus two cannot be twenty two and five plus five cannot be 55. When five plus five begins to be fifty five, we will not need a rocket scientist to know that the numbers are going crazy, and pulling the world along with it in a relentless seizure. Yet, isn’t it real that our world as we know it already spinning out of control right before our eyes? Isn’t it real that the numbers are not adding up and their infinite factors are experiencing challenges today?

Let’s talk about our environment. About a decade ago, the world learnt from scientific data that we were already at a tipping point of climate change. Part of recommendations from scientists to mitigate that unpleasant prospects of climate change was for global climate action plan aimed at a gradual disengagement from a reliance reliance on fossil fuels and to replace it with a lifestyle based on renewable energies. So that the numbers may add up eventually, research into reducing reliance on fossil fuels is ongoing, and if the news is not fake, Europe and the Americas will soon begin to run their cars on batteries, water and other renewable energies. All of this is a product of ongoing diurnal and nocturnal research and activism taking place across key cities, seeking to situate the issues and raise the level of awareness and preparedness if the apocalypse hits.

Our earth is burning up. Australia has been up in flames, sea levels are rising and five plus five is becoming fifty five. In the light of these global occurrences, does Nigeria see the big picture and her place in it? Is anyone, any policymaker, formulator or executor actually feeling today’s unusual heat, something we all inoculate ourselves from, with our air-conditioned spaces – our rooms, our cars and our offices? Has anyone in authority, after the ban on the okada or kekenapeps actually taken a walk around and felt the direct heat on top of the heads of Nigerians? But I guess not, and we suppose this goes a long way to vindicate those seeking to change the narrative around the concept of ‘Climate Change’ to a ‘climate challenge’. We note that our nonchalance and our irregular pose concerning issues related to the climate challenge surely baffles the rest of the world. How are the numbers ever going to add up for a country earning fantastic monies from that same commodity the world holds responsible for climate change, yet fails to invest in or take a strong position on issues related to renewable energy?

And of course it is not hard to say that Europe is eager to claim ownership of the climate campaigns because of our seemingly disinterestedness on the issues. In nearly all the meetings that have taken place at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCC, Nigeria has been laid back and happy to let South Africa and Kenya take the lead, and to let Uganda be cropped from Climate change photos. Ours has basically been aloofness taken to odd levels and based on the specious argument that it is the West that precipitated the climate issues and should handle it. In Nigeria in the year 2019, the rains fell almost non-stop at the coastal cities, and right up till Christmas. If we say this is normal, we may want to find out why it is as hot now in the coastal cities in Nigeria in 2020 as in some parts in Nigeria like Borno, Sokoto and Kebbi, known to have relatively high temperatures at this time of the year. Why has Nigeria’s voice not been heard over the years as a key player on climate issues?

Over the years, and in Biblical times, nations and peoples have fought bitter wars over ownership and management of water bodies. These wars are being fought on a consistent keel in Nigeria today and it puts a certain focus on Nigeria. Here is a country with a region ravaged by desertification and droughts. The region parades the lowest human development index in the whole of West Africa. It has underage children being married off before their 15th birthday and abandons children on the streets to eke a meal from the streets. Consequently, nomadic herdsmen moving in droves to the South have often clashed with farmers, and resulted in unnecessary conflicts and unfortunate deaths. The UNDP Climate Change Adaptation recommended several strategies for Nigeria, and which can be found on their site. But what is the government response to the calamity of human development in that region? It is a suspicious programme known as RUGA, apparently to force landowners in the Southern and Eastern parts of Nigeria to give up their lands to cattle herdsmen. It is a suspicious programme apparently because the word ‘RUGA’ in the language of the president means ‘human settlement’ or an acronym for Rural Grazing Area.  But whatever name it is, the idea ordinarily exposes Nigeria and the individual at the head thereof as very far away from the realities of the day.  The killings and kidnappings in Nigeria today, are all connected with the climate crisis which Nigeria is unwilling to participate to mitigate. Our being bereft of ideas is a reflection of the fact that Mr President seems all too keen to pursue an ethnic agenda over and above all other matters with the potential to emulsify Nigerians.

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