Recently, the Centre for Development Support Initiatives (CEDSI) joined over 60 civil society organsations (CSOs) in Nigeria to sign a petition urging President Muhammad Buhari, Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, to urgently implement the Climate Change Act.
CEDSI was proud to join the move to urge the Nigerian government to urgently implement the Act for many reasons but most especially because of the expectation that the implementation of the Act will help to motivate climate action at the subnational level especially in the Niger Delta where climate action is seriously lagging.
The importance of taking targeted and well-coordinated action to address climate change in Nigeria can hardly be overemphasised. Climate change is displacing thousands of people in the Northern Nigeria and contributing to the growing insecurity that is threatening Nigeria’s existence. In the Niger Delta, climate change is causing coastal erosion, sea level rise and saltwater intrusion and unprecedent flooding which is affecting millions of people annually.
So far Nigeria needs to take more action to address the multiple impacts of climate change in the country. Despite having an ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and many other lofty climate policy documents, actions on the ground are yet to match up the aspirations outlined in these policy documents.
Moreover, much of the conversations on climate in Nigeria has concentrated at the national level in Abuja with little cascaded down to the states and sub national levels where the impacts of climate change are felt daily.
Hence, when President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Climate Change Bill to create the Climate Change Act, the Centre for Development Support Initiatives (CEDSI) was very excited. We saw in the new Climate Change Act an opportunity for Nigeria to increase its action on the climate. Critically, we saw in the Act an opportunity to increase climate action in the 36 states of the country. As an organisation that has been working to enhance climate action in the Niger Delta, we were hoping that the Act will help to promote the work we have been doing to promote awareness, policy and action.
The Climate Act establishes Zonal Climate Coordinators for the six political zones in the country. The Climate Act also establishes the office of State Directors for each state of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The plan obliviously is that the zonal coordinators and the state directors will work with those at the Federal level to promote climate action at the grassroots level.
The Centre for Development Support Initiatives (CEDSI) has been very concerned that, the after establishing the climate law, the Federal Government has seemed somewhat slow to implement the Act. We understand that all that the Federal Government needs to do to commence the implementation of the Act is to hold an inaugural meeting of the National Council of Climate Change and appoint the directors to start the job.
We are surprised that the Federal government is delaying action on the Act when the impact of climate change is driving more and more people into poverty in the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large.
The Centre for Development Support Initiatives (CEDSI) has worked with multiple partners to promote community action at the state level with a focus on the Niger Delta states. The recent launch of the Climate Action for Sustainability and Environmental Protection Project (CASE) by the Rivers Network of NGOs (RINNGOS) and ACT, has served as a strong platform for harnessing multiple partners and building capacity of NGOs in climate governance.
The Centre for Development Support Initiatives (CEDSI) has thus been expecting the Federal Government to commence the implementation of the Act in order to leverage that to increase more awareness and stimulate action at the state level.
In the meantime, CEDSI is continuing in its effort to work with other partners to push for the domestication of the climate act in River’s state. We are working hard to engage the three arms of the River State Government in fighting climate change. We hope that the recent petition sent by to the President will result in quick action on the Act.
CEDSI also wishes to thank the Society for Planet and Prosperity (SPP) for organising the recent awareness workshop for civil society leaders on the Climate Act for bringing in experts that provided detailed information on how the implementation of the Act can help Nigeria take a leadership role in fighting climate change in Africa.
We remain hopeful that this and many other calls to action will escalate action.
By Mina Ogbanga, Centre for Development Support Initiatives (CEDSI Nigeria)