“I assure all foreign governments that Nigeria will become a more forceful and constructive player in the global fight against terrorism and in other matters of collective concern, such as the fight against drugs, climate change, financial fraud, communicable diseases and other issues requiring global response” (GMB, 1 April, 2015).
I felt highly gladdened when I listened to the first national speech of the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (GMB), after collecting his Certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and thought that I heard the two words of my life “climate change” mentioned as an issue of challenge for the incoming administration. The words “Climate Change” have become rare in presidential speeches in recent years in Nigeria. I was so pleasantly surprised that I decided to wait and read printed copies of the speech in case I did not hear well because of the excitement that God used our incumbent President to ensure a peaceful election-based transition. Behold, I heard clearly and, as stated in the quote above, climate change has been looped with other global challenges that the country faces, and which will be squarely addressed by the incoming administration.
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. The risks that it already poses has necessitated global discourse and the need for nations to work together to mitigate its impacts and adapt to potentially new environmental conditions that we may find ourselves. With the commitment of the incoming administration, as reflected in the above quote, Nigeria will be putting itself in a strategic position to play its much desired leadership role, particularly in Africa, to ensure that the world comes up with a new global climate change agreement that will be equitable and just in Paris at the end of the year. Nigeria will also be in position to look deeply into a number of job-creating technology-based development opportunities existing in global response to climate change to craftily create jobs for the teeming population of its unemployed youths.
With the optimism and hope offered on the issue of climate change by the President-elect, I have decided to start putting out a series of short non-technical articles on climate change and the imperative for a climate-resilient approach for sustainable human development in Nigeria in this widely read news media. The articles will start with the clarification on what climate change is and what it is not. The factors and causal mechanisms of climate change will be explained, as well as its impacts on various sectors of the national economy. The country’s vulnerability will also be highlighted. In the final analysis, we shall assess the country’s response so far before coming up with critical policy and practical options for making Nigeria climate resilient.
Welcome to the series on Making Nigeria climate-resilient.
By Prof. Emmanuel Oladipo (Climate Change Specialist and Adjunct Professor, Department of Geography, University of Lagos, Nigeria. firstname.lastname@example.org)