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You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>>Nigeria Floods: Fund is not the answer
Thursday, 15 November 2012 16:06

Nigeria Floods: Fund is not the answer

Written by GREG ODOGWU
Nigeria Floods: Fund is not the answer Reuters

With the recent fundraiser success recorded by the Federal Government through its special flood relief committee, with Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chief Mike Adenuga and others as members, where they raised a whopping N11bn last week – while vowing to meet their set target of N100bn – it would certainly seem that the nation is about to have its current ecological pains wiped out completely. For sure, the average optimistic Nigerian is likely to assume that the Internally Displaced Persons, the ravished farmland and obliterated homesteads in various states of the Federation are about to be rescued, replenished and rehabilitated. That with this ample stash of cash, Nigeria would once again become invincible to the terrifying visitations of climate change. And that we would recover, and life would go on as usual.


However, at the risk of sounding like a pessimist or a doomsday prophet, I hereby bring to your view the truth that no matter what we do today as a nation, without analysing this year’s environmental trauma against the backdrop of climate change and competently addressing the fundamentals, our efforts would simply be tantamount to treating a singular systemic symptom without diagnosing and treating the disease which necessitated the particular indicator. It is a sure recipe for national disgrace. Granted, natural disasters are emergencies, which nobody or nation, no matter how sophisticated, would claim to be impervious to; after all, that is why they are called acts of God. Still, nobody can deny the all-time axiom that preparation mitigates damage from emergencies.


For instance, it is a scientific fact that the volume of rainfall recorded in Lagos State this year is higher than that of 2010, but this year’s damage is less. Reason: the state government adequately prepared for the ecological emergency. It freed waterways, cleaned up drainages, and carried out vigorous enlightenment campaigns on its teeming population. In fact, the two main policy responses to climate change are mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation addresses the root causes by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while adaptation seeks to lower the risks posed by the consequences of climatic changes. The floods that visited Nigeria this year are part of the changes already set in motion by climate change. So as it is now obvious, Nigeria is nowhere in this two responses.


The Executive Director of ICEED, an environmental NGO, Ewah Otu Eleri, and one of Nigeria’s environmental experts, remarked matter of factly that: ‘‘These are not acts of God. What we are faced today needs a lot of planning, coordination, and political attention at the highest level. In fact, with the way we are going, in 2013 we would not fair any better, because there is no long-term planning and no institutional review on the part of the government regarding climate change. This year’s flood caught the nation unawares; it should not be this way. We were warned by the 2010 floods that devastated Lagos, Oyo and parts of the North. That it caught us unawares is totally embarrassing. The fact remains that climate change is a global phenomenon; it will keep expressing itself in floods, in droughts and other natural disasters. The trend is that we should expect these disasters, the difference is how prepared are we for them. Unfortunately, the federal and state agencies have not prepared Nigerians for this calamity.’’


I believe that the only way for the Federal Government to prepare the people for this is by entrenching a centrally coordinated plan of action to fight climate change; a framework which has already been taken care of in the National Climate Change Commission Bill, but which has not seen the light of day because of lack of political will on the part of the nation’s leadership. Sadly, this is why we find ourselves only waiting to manage ecological disasters, instead of to proactively structure response infrastructure while consolidating the activities of the nation’s various environment-based agencies and ministries. The root of the matter is that while other nations such as Kenya and Pakistan – which has a full-fledged ministry of climate change – are ahead of us in matters relating to climate change, Nigeria has yet to domesticate the Kyoto Protocol, which would give it an edge in this global environmental war, and make its citizens more prepared and protected, while also benefiting from the opportunities that climate change presents.


It is instructive that the National Climate Change Commission Bill has not been signed by President Goodluck Jonathan who received the harmonised bill from the National Assembly on December 9, 2010. To start with, it is only such a national agency that would usher us into the global economy. On December 11, 1997, the world made a bold statement in Kyoto, Japan, when they adopted the Kyoto Protocol, a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, aimed at fighting global warming. The Protocol entered into force on February 16, 2005, and as of September 2011, 191 states have signed and ratified it. Nigeria ratified it on December 10, 2004, and by this the country is entitled to a window of opportunity in the fast evolving climate change-induced economy, known as green economy. The Protocol reaffirms the principle that developed countries have to pay billions of dollars, and supply technology to other countries for climate-related studies and projects, but these developing countries must establish designated national authority to manage its Kyoto obligations.


Second, the agency is expected to provide room for agricultural insurance cover for Nigerian farmers in the event of produce losses due to the escalating global climate change challenges, including flash floods and droughts that are causing serious havoc to the agricultural sector. It shall also serve as a convener and fulcrum for the inter-ministerial body that shall coordinate a coherent inter-sector response to climate change challenges. This includes enabling Nigeria to generate energy from renewable clean sources like wind, water and the sun, reducing green house gases, turning waste to wealth, enhancing private sector participation in climate change issues and above all reducing Nigeria’s vulnerability to the impact of climate change. In other words, were the Commission in existence, those farmers who committed suicide as a result of their loss this year would not have done so as insurance would have been a veritable succour.


Third, President Jonathan’s ambitious but laudable gas master plan cannot really see the light of day without a political will to stop gas flaring, which actually shall be one of the major functions of the Climate Change Commission. Gas flaring contributes significantly to global emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, two of the green house gases (GHG) which contribute to global warming. With the government’s tepid attitude to gas flaring, we are actually making a statement as a nation through our oil industry that we do not want to join other countries in fighting climate change. But to start with, we must have an agency with the technical competence and regulatory mandate to respond proactively to issues pertaining to global warming, and not the usual knee-jerk response we are used to when emergencies catch up with us. By now, the gas we waste would have been reabsorbed into conduits, producing resource so that our textile industry would come back to life, and new jobs created.


Finally, the capacity of the nation’s citizenry is abysmally poor as regards climate change, while the agencies and ministries that represent us in these matters are at loggerheads over whose responsibility it is to coordinate for the nation. It is either NIMET versus NESREA [or NEMA]; or Ministry of Environment versus Ministry of Agriculture [or Ministry of Foreign Affairs]. To worsen the plot, the National Assembly is now working on establishing others: Ecological Fund Commission and Erosion Control Agency. I recall that during COP 17, the Nigerian delegation almost brought shame to the nation as ministers literally fought over the microphone in an international forum because each wanted to be the spokesman for the nation’s ‘Climate Change War Machine’. Meanwhile, a country like Kenya had youths full of life and knowledge speak for them while attracting tremendous goodwill for their country. Surely, they were properly equipped by a nationally coordinated climate change process. That reminds me, the National Climate Change Policy, with which we console ourselves as having a document of national response, is not even available on the internet.


Greg OdogwuGREG ODOGWU ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it




Last modified on Thursday, 15 November 2012 16:13

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