Executive Director, Nigerian Environmental Study Action Team (NEST), and Delegate to the on-going National Conference, Professor Chinedum Nwajiuba, recently in Abuja confronts Environment Minister, Laurentia Mallam, with some issues of interest
Some Nigerians, since the commencement of Committee work at the on-going National Conference, familiar with my work on Environment in the country, have written-in a number of concerns which they want brought to the Committee as well as to the Honourable Minister of Environment. Their interest as some of them wrote include making the issue of the environment national top priority that will be properly attended to, with sufficient finance, improved governance and supported by appropriate laws. There is the need to understand and appreciate that environment and sustainable development are major global, national and local issues that must be on the high scale in our development agenda. We cannot be on-lookers when other countries are addressing them at the highest level of governance.
Specifically we wish to highlight some issues which I believe you may already be familiar with. These issues are summarised as follows:
- Why is it looking like the National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action on Climate Change in Nigeria (NASPA-CCN) which has been recommended to other countries by the UNFCC seeming abandoned by Government? The signal in the international community with respect to Nigeria’s image in relation to the NASPA-CCN by Government is not very positive. Let me reiterate that the NASPA-CCN is a product of intense research and collaboration among a broad spectrum of Nigerians and non-Nigerians that lasted five years. It is a very high quality document that is a classical case of evidence-driven policy.
- Why does it seem there is the poor implementation of the Green Wall project, and South of Niger Republic greener than Northern Nigeria? Satellite and ground evidences are clear on this. There is no climatic or ecological factor why southern Niger should be greener than northern Nigeria. This was a subject of discussion at a meeting at the World Agro-forestry Centre in Nairobi last month. The world expects leadership from Nigeria, as the country has all it takes. The hypothesis is that the political leadership and will is not there.
- Why the slow action on bringing in water to reverse the receding Lake Chad? The Ministry of Environment should consider emerging funding opportunities in the Green Climate Fund. This Fund is designed to support such huge activities. It is important to conceptualise this project as fund becomes available. It may be helpful to link this to security challenges in the Northeast region of Nigeria.
- Why is Nigeria always late to almost all COP meetings as if an emergency? We saw that in Durban (2011) with newspaper headlines in Nigeria: “Nigeria absent in Durban”. The same happened in Doha (2012), and perhaps too in Warsaw (2013). Ahead of the Warsaw COP last year, Nigeria was absent at the African Ministers Conference on Environment (AMCEN) meeting in Gaborone, Botswana last year. It was personally painful to be attending on another platform the meeting in Gaborone, and seeing the Nigeria seat empty at a meeting African Ministers were to take a common position towards Warsaw COP. Many Nigerians are embarrassed by these. A new re-launched Nigeria, as our President has advocated, should be a more serious-minded place with her political leadership and technocrats more professional.
- Is the problem insufficient budget for the Ministry of Environment, and Nigeria delegates to COPs always late, never prepared, and have to rely on donors? Is the problem the envelop funding mechanism? Is that a constraint to the Ministry of Environment? Will it help to have provision made for the COP as sub-head in the budget annually? Can the Ministry work towards funding of up to N150 million each year which can be deployed to proper preparation, having a Nigeria stand, have a delegation that includes investment forum in the area of climate change and includes Nigerian businesses and chambers of commerce? Will this not help in tapping opportunities in climate change?
- How transparent are modalities for managing the ecological funds? Would it help to have the Ministry of Environment play more roles?
- Why are there so many non-road-worthy vehicles on Nigeria roads polluting and harming health of our people?
- Why is there tame handling of land and coastal erosion?
- When will gas flaring end?
- Why are top-of-science methods and international best practices for spills in petroleum-bearing communities and routes not used in Nigeria?