Climate Change: How Should Nigeria Respond?

By Emeka Ezemenaka

Times and trends keep changing and as of today, climate change has become a salient issue associated with human security. Lots of policies have been meted out on different sectors in Nigeria with little attention to climate change. In the world today, climate change is being taking serious and nations strive to mitigate its effect and finding solutions on how the changes can be managed.

However, the situation of this fight against the effect of climate change is different in Nigeria. The worrisome concerns about climate change as a whole, does not really lie on its effects, rather it lies on effective and adequate measures adopted to curb its menace. As a Nigerian, I am not only concerned about my well-being but also the society.

Furthermore, I have observed and seen from experience that the Nigerian government takes necessary actions after things go awry or been hit by anticipated problem. For example, there was a warning about the Ebola virus disease earlier before it entered Nigeria and yet the Federal government did not take adequate measure to protect her citizens from infection by a blockade from infected countries like what a good leader should do. Also the case of BokoHaram which got out of hand had its own beginning and was not tended to, and this also applies to the militant boys in Niger Delta that are still armed despite the disarmament program that was carried out.

In every occurrence of disasters, there are always early warning signal and these signals are used to build scenarios for future occurrences. As of today, it is pertinent to know that the Nigerian governments have no ready made plans to mitigate climate change, what they propose is always on paper and not practicable. The case of Gas flaring which has a direct contact to the atmosphere comprising of climate configuration is a major issue in Nigeria since the production of Natural gas in Nigeria from 1999.

The gas is flared continuously to the atmosphere unabated till now and yet when the minister of health or environment is called they will come on air to say "we are on top of the situation". Nigeria is a country that plays a major role in Africa and in the world based on its natural resources ranging from Crude Oil, Natural Gas and Coal production amongst others, yet the measures adopted to clean up the mess of human effect on environment through industrialization becomes a major problem.

Examples of industrialization effect which distort the ecosystem and in turn affect the climate of Nigeria is seen at the Crude Oil spillage in the Niger Delta regions in Nigeria and Gas flaring. The resultant effect of the problems caused by Oil spillage which adversely affects the climate, environment and livelihood of societies can be seen at Bayelsa and Delta communities where crude oil is produced at larger quantities.

Nevertheless, the majority of Nigeria's natural gas is flared off and it's estimated that Nigeria loses 18.2 million US$ daily from the loss of the flared gas. Nigeria still flares about 40% of the natural gas it produces, while official Nigerian policy is to end gas flaring completely by 2008. Looking back at the year 2008 and now, it is alarming to know that the gas flaring is still going on. We are now in 2014, that's 5 years, difference! Imagine how the atmosphere and climate course is been forced to change.

Emphasis on the effect of human activities on climate change cannot be overemphasized but allowing the problems of climate change to overwhelm us as humans is the choice we make. The debate is on, climate change is a global phenomenon and other nations are striving to combat and manage its effect, the question to our government is what are they doing to address the issue of climate change for the safety of their citizens and the global community? This is not the time for politicking. Extraordinary times deserve extra ordinary measures and that is what is required of the Nigerian government.

There are different entry points to addressing the problems of climate change. It is worthy to note that there are some Non-Governmental Organizations who work on environmental issue such as climate change but their contribution is like a stick of fire boiling a tank of water. As much as this article brings to fore the inherent problems associated to climate change in Nigeria, I plead that our government should do something and not wait until the country is struck with climate change disaster.

The effect of climate change has already began in Nigeria, apart from the gas flaring and oil exploration which harm the atmosphere, we are already losing large hectares of land to desertification due to climate change in the North and has forced depleted resources provided by the forest. Finally, the battle of climate change is a call for all and all hand must be on deck to address it.

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