With the conclusion of the 2019 elections in Nigeria, a number of important development issues and megatrends should and must be on the radar of governments at all levels.
Top on the list should be climate change and its geopolitical and economic impacts. Given the bad example set by some advanced countries in downplaying the devastating consequences of climate change, despite scientific evidence, concerted and deliberate efforts by stakeholders must converge to drive the point on the danger of ignoring the red flags of climate change. These efforts must translate into immediate actions. Unfortunately, countries that are least responsible in generating the greenhouse emissions that have created the problem in the first place, are also the most vulnerable and least prepared to confront and adapt to the negative consequences of climate change. This includes Nigeria, where the little success recorded in agriculture recently may be at risk due to environmental challenges, including climate change.
Particularly, areas vulnerable to sea level rise and the high rainfall of Niger Delta and the serious erosion of South East, portend significant danger with serious consequence on drainage and roads. With the current spate of violence, kidnaps, banditry and terror attacks in northern Nigeria, the call for stronger and coordinated actions in holistically addressing security situation, is imperative. Indeed, any strategy addressing the ongoing security crisis in Nigeria must include climate-relevant interventions. From Niger-Delta to Sambisa, our security problems can only be effectively addressed if science is applied in the way we take actions.
In the North for example, the delicate ecosystems disrupted in part by Boko Haram and migration signify that future impacts will be substantial with possible shifts in ranges of some species and ecosystems due to elevated carbon dioxide on earth surface. Additionally, the quest for balance between fresh water needs for human and sustainable use has exerted significant pressure on the environment, complicating an already desperate situation characterized by Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and emerging waves of kidnap for ransom, increasingly dominated by the Fulani ethnic group, through criminal leveraging of the hostage for payment. All of these will have significant impacts of the country’s food and nutrition security.
Particular emphasis should be devoted to more vulnerable and poor states like Zamfara, Borno, Sokoto and Katsina as we approach the rainy season. An eventual drought or flood in these states will be devastating. This may not be the same in the more urbanized Kano and Lagos, but the potential damage is no less worrying.
Taken together, the foresight indicators are not looking good and governments must rise to avoid worsening of an already miserable condition. Lessons should be drawn from the under-reported disaster of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi to adequately prepare.
Government must secure the regions and apprehend all bandits and terror elements.
Individually, we may call on your local and state governments to find out what interventions and adaptations are on ground to mitigate the negative impact of climate change in our ecosystems and water resources. Our systems may be weak but public engagement and science-policy interface should create the needed condition for innovative ideas that would help us avoid or manage environmental disasters.
We should also collectively promote the relevant behavioural changes needed to mitigate climate change and if necessary, change location to modify threats before the next “floods”!
Abdulrazak Ibrahim, PhD can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org