OPINION: 9 things that may divide Nigeria – NAIJ.COM
Editor’s note: Few days ago, a flood which emanated from hours of downpour, led to the death of some persons in Suleja, rendering many homeless. In Lekki and other coastal areas of Lagos, houses and major roads were taken over by flood and the economic activities on the Island were terribly affected for days, as banks, shopping malls and other commercial buildings remained on the lockdown.
In an article sent to NAIJ.com, a Lagos-based journalist and social commentator, Soonest Nathaniel Scholes, explains some factors that might lead to break up of Nigeria other than Biafra agitation and proffer solutions to them.
A brief history
Floods have not been strange occurrences in Nigeria. For some years in our recent history, there have been several cases of flooding across the country and most prominent of them all is the July 2012 flood which cost the nation many lives and about N1.5billion worth of property lost in the incident.
Negligence in the face of disaster
For a nation like Nigeria, pro-active measures are rarely taken to curb and avert mayhem. We have become used to waiting for the disaster before acting. Very few people have gone deep to ask questions and gather information regarding the floods which have struck the nation, perhaps as a very religious nation, we have classified these incidents as an act of God and as such, we have resolved that little or nothing can be done; hence, we would rather pray the floods away.
However, other than just see these floods as an act of God, scientific studies show that climate change is indeed a key factor for the floods which are threatening to sweep the nation into oblivion.
For quite an age, Nigeria seem uninterested in the climate change debate, maybe we believed that our nation is immune from 'its' effects. But recent events show that we are beginning to pay a steep price for having neglected the weather issue for too long.
Short term remedies
As with many situations in Nigeria, the government keeps availing short term solutions to long term problems of disastrous capacity. For instance, only following the flood which wreaked havoc in Suleja and some areas of Lagos, funds were released for repairing structures destroyed by the storm and for tending to those displaced by the flood, but the question remains, is this all that needs to be done in response to the situation at hand? Could this be the last flood which we as a people will experience? The answer is “NO!”
Insight into climate change
In simple terms, climate change refers to the drastic change in seasons and the weather conditions of a particular location, over a given period of time. That said, Nigerians cannot say they have not noticed the changes in atmospheric conditions within the last few years.
Hence, the dialogue should move from if we will or if we have experienced climate change, to what needs to be done as to counter the effects of the change experienced.
There is no gain saying in stressing that at a certain increased level in temperature, our country would experience serious negative effects in its socio-economic wellbeing.
The 9 devastating things that might divide Nigeria:
1. Rainstorm and flooding
Statistics show that between 1997 and 2007, rainstorms killed over 200 people and property worth over N85billion was destroyed. Increase in the amount of rains and number of rainy days, mean flooding in coastal areas, this means a greater chance of landslides in erosion prone areas.
In the southern region, gully-erosion has devastated many settlements and farmlands, thus increasing poverty among local population and fueling agitations for separation.
2. Increased heat in the north
The heat with the northern part of Nigeria has increased tremendously, thus increasing the chances of meningitis and yellow fever. Cataracts and malaria are not left out of the mix, as the heat aides more outbreaks in the region.
3. Desertification and drought
One major problem associated with the issue of heat is desertification. With desertification comes drought, in that the heat keeps drying up the water sources, thus encouraging the attacks of locust and white flies. The rise of the moths on the other hand affects agricultural produce, thereby causing a shortage in food supply, a sad development which Nigeria is already experiencing.
4. More attacks of Fulani herdsmen
As desertification grows, thousands of Fulani herdsmen are forced to move towards the south and the middle-belt, leading to more communal clashes, even as the cattle destroy the farmlands, stirring rage in the agrarians who depend solely on these crops for survival.
5. Increase in mortality rate
With food and water supply being affected by the change in climate, one can only expect an increase in mortality rate. Many Nigerians who are starved and hungry, with little or no means to get food and medications, will be left prone to various diseases that will most likely lead to death.
6. High cost of construction
With great ease, the storms and other natural disasters that stem from climate change, destroy properties and facilities, many of which have taken years and cost a great fortune to build.
The nation is thus faced with projects of constructing and reconstructing facilities and this will most likely be done at a cost that will further plunge the economy into crisis, thus leading to agitation, as the people will react to the hardship they are experiencing.
7. Changes in land use
Following the floods and a rise in the sea level, changes in land use are most likely to be experienced in the coastal regions. Need I say that this development will surely be catastrophic, as frictions among the people will most likely end in fatal clashes, further plunging the nation into a state of instability.
8. An unpleasant change in the food chain
Droughts and flooding will not only affect plants, wildlife will also be affected badly; hence the food chain will be altered.
9. Economic implosion
The drying up of lakes and dams in the country has continued to affect supply of electricity. The continued epileptic power supply in Nigeria, keeps disturbing business turn outs and productivity.
For many investors, it is unwise to keep investing in a nation where the cost of running a business keeps increasing by the day. Thus, the investors are left with no option than to look outside for more viable options. This in turn leaves Nigeria with an economy that keeps experiencing stunted growth.
As earlier stated, negligence and failure on the part of the government and the people of Nigeria, has cost us a lot as regards the effects of climate change. Analysts agree that this negligence forms a core reason for the rise of insurgency in across Nigeria. If as a people, we do not begin to take preventive actions, then we might be in for troubled times which we cannot handle.
What must be done to avert greater mayhem?
1. Climate change must be incorporated into the national, regional, and state developmental plans. Policies needed to be an integral part of government initiatives, must be adapted, these policies must ensure that the intersections between development and climate change adaptation and remediation are provided. These policies must all be aimed at reducing the foundational cause of our vulnerability to climate change.
2. Awareness should be raised on a regular basis regarding climate change issues. Let every Nigerian be made aware of the challenges we face. Workshops, seminars, public lectures and media campaigns should be carried out to keep the people abreast with the issues regarding climate change.
3. Let the tree planting programmes take a passionate form for both individuals and the government. The felling of trees especially in state around the southwest, must be critically looked into.
4. We must reduce the burning of fossil fuels and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Oil spillage in the creeks must stop and effective means to clean the lands affected must be employed.
5. Alternate sources of energy must be promoted and encouraged.
6. Alternate water sources must be employed for both man, plants and animals alike.
7. It is time the nation begins to harness the boons of solar power and the energy of strong winds.
8. Climate change should be included as part of the early educational curriculum in Nigeria, let the children know all climate change entails, from a very tender age.
9. Research grants and funding should be made available for scholars to obtain practical solutions for the nation’s problems.
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10. A comprehensive audit of the environment is needed to quantify the effects of global warming, as to ascertain the level of degradation and loss of biodiversity. This will help us know what we can begin to put in place, mechanisms that will help us overcome/withstand the challenges we are currently experiencing.
11. The government must collaborate with international agencies. Cooperation and collaborations can be used to create opportunities for technology transfer.
In conclusion, environmentalists note that Nigeria may lose between 6 to 30 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2050, if positive steps are not taken to curb the effects of climate change. Mitigation and adaptation are keys to surviving the effect of this change in our weather. The nation must take proactive measures to reduce the rate and magnitude of climate change caused by the activities of mankind.
Adapting, we are to take actions to reduce the adverse effects of climate change by changing our systems of operation. We must develop new patterns that can work effectively, even under the harsh conditions we are experiencing.
The socio-economic success in Nigeria is greatly tied to how issues of climate change are handled. The earlier we begin to pay attention, the more likely we are to save the nation from imploding and going into nothingness.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of NAIJ.com.
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