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The Guardian’s Tunde Akingbade Brought Honor To Nigeria-United States Consulate

The Guardian’s Tunde Akingbade Brought Honor To Nigeria-United States Consulate.


The Guardian’s Tunde Akingbade Brought Honor To Nigeria-United States Consulate


The Consulate General of the United States of America has said that Mr. Tunde Akingbade, environment journalist with The Guardian who won the United Nations/Prince Albert II of Monaco Prize Medal for Climate Change Coverage 2012 brought honor to Nigeria.
In a letter signed by Ms. Rhonda J. Watson, Public Diplomacy Officer of the Consulate General dated June 19, 2013, the US Consulate General said it was delighted to know that Akingbade also received a CNN recognition in 2012 in the Environment Award category.
“As an alumnus of the International Visitor and Leadership Program, you are a living example that one can strive for and attain excellence in all fields of human endeavor,” the statement noted.
The Consulate General praised Akingbade for advancing environmental protection in Nigeria as well as the field of investigative journalism.
The statement added; “It is particularly note worthy that you have devoted the greater part of your life to advancing the field of environmental protection and, in so doing, you brought honor to the nation and will leave a worthy legacy for future generations.”
“We at Public Affairs Section of the United States Consulate General, Lagos are delighted that the years of service that you have given to educating Nigerians on climate change, global warming, waste recycling, volunteerism and immense contributions you have made in the field of Investigative Journalism have once again been rewarded in this way,” the statement further noted.    

First Lady On An Illegal Podium

First Lady On An Illegal Podium

Sunday, 23 June 2013 00:00 Editor Opinion Editorial
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PATIENCE Jonathan, the First Lady and Permanent Secretary in the Bayelsa State Civil Service, a position to which she was promoted last year to national outrage, is in the news again for the wrong reasons.

Having decided to now conduct her public outings with an official podium of “First Lady” complete with the country’s coat of arms and national colours, it seems there is no limit to the odium Nigeria would endure in her hands. For the wife of the President, occupying a ceremonial office that is unknown to Nigeria’s constitution and laws, to use the coat of arms in the manner she does amounts to a desecration of national symbols and disrespect to all Nigerians. This odious practice should be stopped immediately and President Goodluck Jonathan should lead the way as the man who has sworn to abide by the constitution and uphold its tenets. It is bad enough that the First Lady’s deviation from the norm is manifesting in the President’s household, it is doubly sad that he has seen nothing wrong with it. No doubt, Madam Jonathan deserves praise for her tireless efforts at improving the lots of Nigerian women. Her campaigns on the political scene did more a lot to impact on her husband’s political fortunes. She is indeed a force for good. But introducing a seal of her own is a little over border.

It all seemed a joke when, in February, Patience Jonathan, surrounded by her friends and family members, first made her address on a customized podium adorned with the country’s official seal. From all indications, the practice appears to be her new fancy, disrespectful as it is of the country’s sovereignty and cherished ideals. Naturally, the question that has necessarily been provoked is: on what basis could the ‘office’ of the First Lady, unrecognised by the constitution, carry a seal bearing the nation’s coat of arms and the national colours?

This is a joke taken too far and a clear violation of the constitution of Nigeria. It is surprising that this indiscretion escaped the attention and advice of the civil servants or, perhaps, worse still, enjoyed their approval. Whatever the case, this saga is a clear demonstration of how much erosion dignity and professionalism have suffered in the nation’s civil service. Besides, if those who are expected to guide the first wife on the unconstitutionality of her actions failed in their duty, can the President himself claim ignorance of his spouse’s debauchment?

Notably, this is not the first time Madam Jonathan would be involved in conducts unbecoming of her station as the President’s consort. Her several goofs in public are now well documented in an unedifying diary of her person and position. She often behaves like an all-conquering empress as she takes on governors and elected leaders at the slightest opportunity in ways that embarrass the nation. Sometime in the middle of last year, the Governor of Bayelsa State Seriake Dickson elevated the First Lady to the rank of permanent secretary without a portfolio in the civil service of Bayelsa State, ostensibly in accordance with the constitutional power conferred on him but certainly in total disregard of decency.

On her part, the beneficiary justified her promotion on the point that she had been a teacher in the state, when in reality, she had been away from her job since her husband was elected Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, and up to his ascension of office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. On another occasion, she sent the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Serah Ochekpe, to represent her at a book launch in honour of President Olusegun Obasanjo at the latter’s Presidential Library in Abeokuta.

These episodes bring to the front burner issues of law and ethics in governance, and they constitute avoidable pressures on the polity. The First Lady has no power to commandeer a serving minister to do her bidding. A minister is a servant of the state, appointed by the President, not his wife. That action was a clear violation of sections 147 and 148 of the 1999 Constitution which vests in the President the power to appoint a minister who may be assigned a “responsibility for any business of the Government of the Federation, including the administration of any department of government.” Surely the First Lady’s office does not fall into the category stipulated by the constitution.

Patience Jonathan’s actions are not only too brazen but clearly unconstitutional, an act for which the President could be held accountable. The time has, therefore, come to remind Mr Jonathan that Madam Jonathan has stepped out of bounds, this time adorning her ceremonial station with the seal of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and she must be reined in immediately.

Her action ridicules Nigeria in the comity of nations and President Jonathan needs to demonstrate that he understands the implication of the leadership position he occupies and back it up with corresponding action.

Truly, Nigeria has been unlucky to have many leaders seemingly incapable of appreciating basic ethics of governance even when they are ever so quick to cite precedents for their actions from countries like the United States of America. This, however, is often done dishonestly. The  ‘First Lady’ has no place in the constitution and clearly is a ceremonial position from which the lucky spouse is expected to use her personal comportment to enhance her husband’s image. In America where it evolved in the nineteen century, it was manifestly for delivering some public good, especially those involving charity and humanitarian exertion. First Ladies in America never seek to interfere with the President’s job, never dare attempt to usurp the powers of their husbands, let alone drag them to the dangerous grounds of infringement of the basic laws of the country and the consequent threat of impeachment.

In Nigeria, the impunity now being displayed by those saddled with the responsibility of running the nation’s affairs has rendered the country a fertile ground for breeding the improbable. The Patience Jonathan First Ladyship, in its power grab, is one such absurdity.

First Lady’s status is a moral pulpit from which the highest of values cherished by a nation are expected to be espoused, especially by example. It is no podium for unconstitutional actions, substantive or symbolic.

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Author of this article: EDITOR

Alaafin’s Talking Drums Colour Bill Clinton Centre

Alaafin’s Talking Drums Colour Bill Clinton Centre

Saturday, 15 June 2013 00:00 By Tunde Akingbade (who was in Little Rock, Arkansas) Art Arts
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“I AM a first-timer in Arkansas,” I told the cab driver even though I had visited the United States a couple of times and travelled from coast to coast. As we drove from the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, the cab driver talked about the beauty of Little Rock city, the capital of the State of Arkansas.
“That’s The William J. Clinton Presidential Center,” he announced pointing to the direction of the sprawling edifice as one wondered what it has to offer.
Few days later after one had recovered from the jet lag, Tunde jnr and Aisheik, (my children) encouraged me to visit landmark places in Little Rock. One of the places to my delight turned out to be The William J. Clinton Presidential Centre, which also houses a Museum. Aisheik drove on the day of the visit to the historical edifice. We bought our tickets and well-trained security personnel showed us the way into the gallery after security checks. Many of the objects of the Clinton administration were kept in the gallery.
The materials and exhibits were put into segments grouped under such categories as: the early years, life in the White House, temporary exhibit gallery, Oval Office and the work continues.
There is an orientation theatre where one can watch a 12-minute documentary, which details the life of the former American president. There are exhibits from the President’s campaign in 1992 and 1996. For those who are willing to learn how the Clinton administration took decisions on local and international issues, the cabinet room provides an insight into this as well as how the White House staffs were organized when President Clinton ran the government in the United States.
The exhibits’ section, it was later discovered, houses just three percent vital documents out of 80 million pages of documents in the archive of the former president.
My mind went to President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Presidential Library in Abeokuta which one had the honour of visiting last year through contacts with Dr. Dotun Malomo who introduced me to Mr. Vitalis Ortese.
This kind of initiative, if properly handled, would bring pride to Abeokuta and Ogun State the same way the President Clinton Centre is bringing pride to Little Rock and Arkansas.
And suddenly, we reached a corner where gifts given to President Clinton by local and international friends and celebration with his family and friends are on display. Here, there are two talking drums. One is the “Iya Ilu” (mother drum) while the other was smaller. The thought that “This must be from Nigeria,” flashed in my mind, as I moved closer to have a look at the drums. Alas, the drums were actually from Oyo in Nigeria.
The bold inscriptions on the drums indicated they were actually presented to President Clinton by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III.
The drums and the dangling metals shone under the array of bulbs, which brightened the Presidential Museum. The attention of Aisheik, who has never visited Nigeria before, was drawn to the drums and she was also briefed about the role of the talking drum in Yoruba’s music. What gladdened the hearts of the visitors to the museum is the fact that both the donor (Alaafin) and the recipient (President Clinton) are showcasing the African culture to those who may not have the opportunity to visit Nigeria.
Talking drum makers often referred to it as “The-dead-goat-that-speaks-like-humans.” This is because the major raw material for making the talking drum is from the skin of a dead goat!
Right there, a message was sent to a colleague, Aliu Mohammed who appears to be close to Alaafin, to inform him about the encounter.
One of the most interesting exhibits at the Oval Office is a replica of the White House’s Oval Office when the president was in office in Washington D.C.
Exactly 20 years ago, I had visited the White House’s Oval Office when President Clinton was in office in Washington D.C. and the image of the original copy struck me forcefully.
All the items used by President Clinton while in office including biros and pencils were put on display. Not far from the talking drums was a photograph of President Clinton dressed in a “Babanriga” garment of the Hausa in Northern Nigeria.
More poignant and emotional were the photographs of the famous “Little Rock Nine.”
The Little Rock Nine were a group of very intelligent African American Students who passed the exams to enter the Little Rock Central High School in 1957 but were prevented by white supremacist groups and the Governor of the State from entering the school which was an all-white institution. It took the intervention of the President on the strength of the Brown Vs Board of Education’s Supreme Court Judgment who used soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division to escort the young African American students into the school.
A critical look at each of the faces of The Little Rock Nine shows they are now getting old. But they have become great achievers in their chosen fields.
I imagined I could have been one of them, or one of those trapped in racial discrimination elsewhere in America in those years my grandparents had been captured and shipped into America. I would have suffered some psychological inertia just like The Little Rock Nine.  What if the segregation policy had continued till date, my children would have been educated in a segregated school because of the colour of their skin and not their knowledge and their character.
Momentarily, there was flashback on what was ready in books on how The Little Rock Nine were physically and emotionally abused in those years. They were spat at. One of them even had acid thrown at her in the school premises. I reflected again on Africa, West Africa and those years of slavery. The story of these nine students gripped America in the late 1950s and when President Clinton in whose Museum I was standing came to power, he ensured that the Little Rock Nine were honoured in 1999 with Congressional Gold Medal each. The award is the highest award given to civilians by the American Congress. Six years ago, The Little Rock Nine were again honoured with a “Silver Dollar” made by the United States Mint to pay tribute to their strength, determination and courage in the face of threats, abuse and acid attack by separatists during their school days.
Importantly, The Little Rock Nine were invited to attend President Barak Obama’s inauguration as the first African America to get to that office.
It is pertinent to mention that as I stood, watching the young High School students who made history I remembered that they were also honoured by Marquette University with the institution’s highest award previously given to Apollo 11 crew (Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin Aldrin), Mother Teresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Karl Rahner.
Spontaneously, one remembered a woman known as Daisy Bates. Bates was an African American. Coincidentally her story was a sad chapter in racism. Her mother was raped, murdered and thrown into a pond by white men. Her father who was terrified and feared for his life had to give her away to a couple who raised her. Bates through divine providence became President of National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) and ironically fought for the integration of The Little Rock Nine into Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
From Daisy Bates came the flash of Maya Angelou, the poet and author of; “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” She was raised in Stamps, Arkansas not far away. She went through her own trauma too. I was carrying a copy of her book with me. Maya Angelou too was a towering figure during President Clinton’s inauguration when she read some of her poems.
The Clinton Centre and Little Rock and Arkansas as a whole are just a huge house of history. It can be regarded as watching history ‘unplunged’.
At the William J. Clinton Centre, there is an aspect in the tour known as; “A walk with President Clinton in which the former president takes people on a tour of how he governed while in office. We walked through Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, the old bridge, which was over Arkansas River was reconstructed through donations and help from several volunteers whose names are inscribed on the concrete floor of the long bridge. Amongst the list of donors was a Yoruba name we spotted.
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Author of this article: By Tunde Akingbade (who was in Little Rock, Arkansas)
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Fashola Cautions On Danger Of Food Waste

Fashola Cautions On Danger Of Food Waste

Sunday, 16 June 2013 00:00 By Tunde Akingbade Sunday Magazine CityFile
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GOVERNOR Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has frowned at the vast amount of food going to landfills; a situation he says creates more methane and significantly contributes to global warming.

Methane is one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases (GHG) and has been implicated in global warming and climate change in recent years.

Fashola spoke through his Deputy, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, who represented him at the World Environment Day celebrations in Lagos, last week.

The theme of the event was: ‘Think.Eat.Save: Reduce Your Footprint’.

Fashola noted that climate change affects agriculture, particularly food production. He said: “We have already begun to see some of the impact. Only last year, severe flooding across Nigeria showed us the damage that can be wrought by climate change.”

He said that the avoidance of food waste means efficient land use, improved water resource management and positive impact on climate change.

The governor listed some food waste reduction tips to help reduce methane in the state’s landfills. These include: carrying out waste audits and product loss analysis for high waste areas; working with suppliers to reduce waste; offering discounts for near-expiration items; redesigning product packages to avoid waste; limiting menu choices and introducing flexible portioning; creating staff engagement programmes; increasing food donations; following storage guidance to keep food at its best; and requesting smaller portions of food.

Mr. Tunji Bello, Environment Commissioner, lamented that many Nigerians take the environment for granted because “it has never crossed our minds that most of the resources from nature, most especially food, need to be economically deployed.”

Bello said, “this administration strongly believes that a drastic reduction in food waste would have positive repercussions on climate change through more efficient use of land and better water resource management. If food is wasted, it means that all the resources, input and efforts deployed in the production of food items are also lost.”

According to the Commissioner, “the culture of wasting food cannot be a guarantee for providing adequate food for the people. It would be an aberration to believe that there is enough food in the world, even when millions of people are starving. The situation of plenty food can become a truism, if we all stop food waste, so that we can conveniently change the course of human history.”

Bello urged Lagosians to abide by the ‘Waste not, want not’ motto.

He said: “We simply can’t afford to waste up to half of the food produced in our territory. The administration of Governor Fashola unflinchingly believes that the Think.Eat.Save campaign would definitely help reduce waste in our environment, and we are committed to its pursuit.”






There was a drama presentation by a group, led by renowned playwright, Bode Sowande. It was entitled ‘Mammy Water’s Wedding’.    The play was about ecological problems facing the earth, depicting Water as a bride and Earth as a bridegroom.

Bode Sowande said: “The morale of the play is that, should we desire to enjoy the love of Mother Nature, holistically, we must have ecological balance in all directions and all levels of our lives.”

The Guardian gathered last week that Lagos State seized the opportunity of the World Environment Day (WED) celebrations to engineer the campaign, to address the worrisome issue of food waste in the light of its socio-economic and environmental implications on the state and the country.

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Author of this article: By Tunde Akingbade

Displacement, Climate Change… And The Rise of Terrorism In Northern Nigeria

Displacement, Climate Change… And The Rise of Terrorism In Northern Nigeria.

Displacement, Climate Change… And The Rise of Terrorism In Northern Nigeria

Displacement, Climate Change… And The Rise of Terrorism In Northern Nigeria

Displacement, Climate Change… And The Rise of Terrorism In Northern Nigeria

Sunday, 16 June 2013 00:00 By Tunde Akingbade Sunday Magazine Kaleidoscope
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IT was another day. It was the Cassava Festival Day in Bunachor, a village in Cross River State where Drill ranch is located. Though it was supposed to be a day of celebration, tragedy, however, struck: The floods came. The rivers around had overflowed their banks as a result of an unprecedented rainfall measuring 23 cm. It was the highest in 15 years, according to Peter Jenkins and Liza Gadsby, two Americans helping in the protection of drills and other endangered monkeys.
The fast animals sought refuge on treetops and avoided being swept away as some of the earth on Afi Mountain collapsed under the torrential rainfall.
Unable to escape the unusual heavy rainfall, Ekki, an old drill, looked on helplessly. She was already 25 years old and was not as agile and swift as the younger ones who escaped to the top of the tree. Ekki was swept away.
If animals could talk, maybe they would have told the world the rains were unusual. Perhaps too, if they had written documents from their ancestors, they would have likened the events to Noah’s days in the Bible. But they don’t talk, neither do they have recorded documents of the past.
In a village lacking preservation techniques, there was shortage of food. The 400 drills and chimpanzees being taken care of by Pandrillus Foundation also suffered.
It was the same terrible news of flooding and ecological nightmare across the country, especially in the coastal areas. Rivers Niger and Benue — two major rivers in West Africa, with sources from Fouta Djalon Mountain in Sierra Leone and Cameroun Mountains — overflowed their banks in Lokoja, the confluence city. The situation was so bad that animals were swept from forest into cities and reptiles into streams.
Even Otueke, Bayelsa State, President Goodluck Jonathan’s hometown, was almost submerged. Roads were cut off same way the Northern part of Nigeria was cut off from the south by the over flowing rivers.
For the first time, disasters associated with climate change stared government officials, politicians, policy makers and people in the face. The years of erratic weather and warm earth have finally manifested in Nigeria.
Mr. Nnimmo Bassey, renowned environmentalist, told The Guardian that the Middle Belt would likely be the region of conflicts when converging ethnic groups want to outsmart one another as a result of global warming and climate change.
Bassey noted that the environmental degradation has led to many of the crises in Niger Delta. He particularly regretted government’s inability to implement the UNEP report of 2011 on the clean up of contaminated land in Ogoni, Rivers State.
He also confirmed that the conflicts in Niger Delta region of Nigeria have their roots in ecological disasters resulting from crude oil prospecting, extraction and production.
UNEP, in the report, had noted that Ogoniland had been polluted by crude on to a depth of five metres. Thus, the water in the area is not fit for human consumption.
According to climate experts, in the last two decades, there have been a series of conflicts, which many overlook, not knowing they have relationship with climate change. The last 10 hottest years were found from 2000. Coincidentally, it began with Nigeria’s democratic rule.
Ironically, the extreme weather and degradation of the environment have fertilised militant and terror groups in the far North Eastern part of the country common as well as the creeks in the Niger Delta.
TWO weeks ago, the world celebrated the World Environment Day under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The theme of this celebration was, Think. Eat. Save.
The theme embraced the entire ideals of environmental protection and climate change seen from inter disciplinary approach.
Studies in the archives of Nigeria Environment Study Action Team (NEST) based in Ibadan showed that birds such as Arabian Bustard, Savile Bustard, Cream Coloured Couiser, African Coloured Dove/ European Turtle Doves, Double Breasted Barfet, which are known as bio-indicators (who give signal of impending ecological problems) have migrated when they began to feel the dry spells, unusual and erratic weather and struggle over water in the dry river beds.
Last year was one of the 10 hottest years on record. The year 2011 was also in the league of hottest years, with 2010 tieing with 2005. The year 2009 was also a hot year. And as a result of ecological problems, migration and displacement have been taking place steadily.
Dr. Daniel Gwari, one of Nigeria’s Climate Change negotiators at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP), told The Guardian that fishermen who depend on Lake Chad had to move when the water on their side in Nigerian dried up.
According to Gwari, some former fishermen have shifted to farming. He said water in riverbeds is found not enough to cultivate their crops, they moved again.
He noted that the population of some communities has been reduced due to migration of people in search of water, arable lands and means of livelihood.
The nomads and those migrating as a result of ecological problems are also found in Western and Eastern states too.
For Dr. Victor Fodeke, who was Advisor, African Union (AU) Climate Change Office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the consequences and implication of extreme weather that is being felt in Africa is that there would be more flooding, drought and migration of people and animals in search of water and pasture.
Fodeke warned that unless Nigerians took decisive steps to combat climate change, critical infrastructures such as roads, rails and other forms of transformation would be affected.
According to him, food production in many parts of Nigerian will be affected, and there will be forced migration. This also has security implication.
SOURCES say that the ingredients to fertilise the religious zealots can be traced to environmental imbalance and climate variations, which occurred many decades ago. These were the remote causes, though, the immediate cause can be found in the past eight years of democracy where some politicians who were looking for votes and allies in religious terror machines made pledges of establishing theocratic institutions based on Islam.
It will be recalled that the unpleasant environment in the North had genesis in the drought and rinderpest epidemics, which affected agriculture in Northern part of Nigeria.
Experts also traced problem of availability of terror to the Almajiri system, which the expert Bako recalled in his report was contained in the Justice Aniagolu report, Bulunkutu El-Badawy Report, Jimeta – Yola Uwais Report and Gombe Report. This region has become a breeding ground for desperate and willing religious zealots and extremists.
During the military era, NEST organised a workshop to enlighten everybody on sustainable development and environment.
Held in Kano, in 1990, the workshop, which was supported by Fredrich Ebert Foundation, a German non-governmental organisation, was entitled, Sustainable development in Nigerian’s Dry Belt-Problems and Prospects.  Professor K.O. Ologe edited proceeding of the workshop.
At the NEST workshop, an expert, Sabo Bako, of the Department of Political Science, Ahmadu Bello, Zaria presented a paper on Ecological Crises and Social Conflict in Northern Nigeria’s Dry Belt.
In his paper, Bako traced the emergence of the notorious Maitasine sect, the group that can be tagged as the ‘forerunner’ of the now dreaded Boko Haram to the same geo political zone of current terror and bombings.
The political scientist linked together the social groups that participated in the Maitatsine urban revolts, which broke out in Kano in 1980 Maiduguri in 1982, Kaduna, 1982, Jimeta Yola in 1984 and Gombe in 1985.
He noted that these groups are found in predominantly Muslim Sahelian towns, which hosted the victims of ecological disasters brought by desertification and rinderpest epidemics, which ravaged the rural areas of the semi – arid and arid parts of Nigeria and West Africa in the 1970s and 1980s killing the cattle of millions of people.
The social scientist spent four years on the study and he found that most of the persons who took part in the religions riots were originally peasant farmers and pastoralists, who were impoverished, devastated and dispossessed of their means of subsistence and production such as farmland and livestock, in the course of the long and severe ecological crises which debilitated their environment.
Many of them were found to have migrated to other towns in “a chaotic state of absolute poverty and social dislocation in search of food, water, shelter, jobs and means of livelihood.”
Today, regrettably, many people wonder how the North became a fertile ground for this dastardly and evil level of religious extremism.
At the time Bako carried out his study, he emphasised that the complete separation imposed by the introduction and intensification of large-scale commodity production such as World Bank Agricultural Projects, Agro-allied industries and the River Basin Development Authorities (RDAs) fuelled commoditisation of labour, land and the movement of labour from rural areas to urban industrialisation.
Studies carried out on the Maitasine rioters showed that some of them were from Chad, Cameroun, Niger, Mali, Sudan, Morocco and Upper Volta. It is pertinent to mention that of those questioned about the reasons for their migration, about 80 per cent laid claim to drought.
Fodeke: Some African States Will Cease To Exist
Dr. Victor Fodeke worked at the Climate Change office of the African Union as Advisor. He was also Head of Special Climate Change Unit, Federal Ministry of Environment before his retirement. Fodeke, who led negotiation from Nigeria in the past to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference, spoke to TUNDE AKINGBADE on consequences of climate change.
What are the consequences of climate change?
The implications are that there will be more flooding, drought and migration. According to a scenario painted by one of the consultant of an America government’s agency, some states will cease to exist and economic infrastructure will be affected. Incase of Nigeria, sea level rise will affect the economic underbelly of the nation. If we cannot sell off as fast as we can in a period of one year, things will be terrible. In some states with critical infrastructures such as road and rail transportation, and the land people farm is filled with water, food production will be affected. There will be forced migration and the security implication could be mind-boggling. I think that was what led to the African Union Risk Capacity, which is taking care of drought and food security right now. There is need to include other consequences such as flood implication on human health, sea and others, which can remove same states from existence. Some states will definitely cease to exist, especially those in the coastal areas.
Lands will be inundated. People will be rendered harmless and you know the attendant crisis where dangerous reptiles can be swept into human habitation. Disease will also be on the increase and people will not be able to eat. You can imagine the number of people who died last year in Nigeria during the flooding across the country. Some states within the African continent will cease to exist.
The flood of last year affected the Afi Mountain. There was a particular gorilla that could not climb the tree to escape like the others. That appears to portend so much danger to animals in the face of Climate Change?
The biggest animals that will be affected are human beings, especially women who will begin to give birth on trees. Women and children are at the epicenter of problems caused by climate change. Now, when you talk about the consideration, the natural resources and the biodiversity there, they will be wiped off. It will be a big loss to conservation efforts and plant planet because that place is one of the Bio-diversity hot spots in the world.
Kupi: Our Plight, Migration, Relocation And Erratic Weather
Alhaji Usman Nga Kupi is Sapeyi of Garki, Abuja. He has been on the throne since 1990. He witnessed the evolution and growth of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Kupi spoke with TUNDE AKINGBADE on the indigenous people of Abuja, displacement, migration and climate change.
How long has Garki been in existence?     It has been in existence for a long time now. The original inhabitants are Gbagyi. Hausa people call them Gwari. The ethnic Gbagyis’ brief history shows that their ancestors migrated from the Middle East and moved towards Borno State in search of pastoral life. They moved down to a base in Zaria, Kaduna State. Not known to be lazy, the Gbagyi man moved on in search of food. We were great hunters as well as great farmers. In search of a better place to settle, our people moved away from Zaria to a certain place that is now called the Gwari Area Council. Our people stayed there for some time. Again, as a result of the inter-tribal wars, some of our people moved from that village to settle on that field (pointing outside the palace) over there. It was a thick forest. The place served as defence fortress against enemy attack. However, there were attacks from Hausa people.
The battle went on for a while and it got to a point that our people said, Sis geri to gagara chi (this territory is unconquerable) Wanageri ya gagara chi! This is what has been shortened to ‘Garki!’ Since then, we have been living here.
From historical records, we find that during those periods of Hausa raids and inter-tribal wars, there was also a form of slave trade. So, people had to stay uphill because they did not want to be captured and sold to slave raiders. When there was no longer slave trade and inter-tribal wars ceased, they came down and settled at the foot of the hill. The Hausa also came and mingled with them. Before the amalgamation of Northern and Southern protectorates, this palace where we are and the entire area was where the white men settled. We were all answerable to the Emir of Abuja. That was before the creation of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. There, we had a district called Garki. It was created in February 1913.
At that time, only Gbagyi people were owners of the land. Later, the Hausa people came. However, since the Federal Capital Territory was carved out, we have continually been displaced.
The United Nations is really concerned about indigenous people, environment and natural disasters. When the government displaces you, takes your land and now declares your building again illegal; that’s big challenge?
When you are displaced by the state, you are turned into a menace in the society. I keep asking government, when you take land away from the people, why can’t you give them alternative?
At the same time, we suffer from cultural erosion. Our culture is going extinct; our traditional religion is being destroyed. There were places I knew when I was a kid where our fathers used to perform traditional rites. These places have been pulled down or demolished. This has psychological effect on the indigenous people. Other ethnic groups have moved here with their own cultural values and they have infused them into our people. The small population of the indigenous people in Abuja will have to bear the weight of other 165 million who come here regularly or settle here. When they come with their own culture, if care is not taken, the local culture will disappear. There is also impact of modern religion – Christianity and Islam on our people’s culture, values and religion.
How  can government protect the people and the environment?
The Nigerian government is one of the problems. It must carry people along. Let us take for instance, the Niger Delta people, a lot of oil exploration took place there and people felt that they were being exploited and short changed. This led to the agitation by the youths there. Sadly, this led to the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa and some people. Why I am saying that the problem is with the Nigerian government is that whenever they begin a project, the communities there are not taken care of. So, what I am saying is that the government must change because we need peace to prevail in this country. We must change so as to get better things in this country. We need peace. Whenever projects are cited, let the government carry people along.
What do you see in all these in relationship to the problem of Climate Change, which the United Nations through the United Nations framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) has been championing ?
The issue of Climate Change is real. When it happens, it affects the production of crops that have been planted. It has affected some of our people who still have land to farm. Some of us have to go out of our way to get products, whenever there is heavy rain. It affects our farming system and products. If you relate this to problems facing the country, as I have said earlier, unemployment, youth’s restiveness and other challenges, your mind will not be at rest. When there is security in the land, every thing will be okay, but with insecurity, no one can say he has peace of mind and development cannot happen.
Gwari: Conflicts In North Is Due To Dwindling Agricultural Production
Dr. Daniel Gwari, one of Nigeria’s Climate Change negotiators at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is a lecturer at the University of Maiduguri. He spoke with TUNDE AKINGBADE on problems of desertification, climate change, loss of water and biodiversity and ecological conflicts in Borno area of the country.
What is the situation in Borno State as regards Climate Change?
The climate has been changing over the years to the extent that rainfall has decreased considerably. Except for the last two years when there was a little improvement, rainfall pattern has recorded a steady decline. The drying up of Lake Chad on the Nigerian side evidences this. And Nigerians whose livelihood depended on that part of the lake had had to move to the other side. This is not a good experience. It has resulted in a lot of conflicts. Those who could not move to the other side had to look for other means of livelihood. It has led more people into poverty. The issue of climate change is very glaring in that region. It’s impacting on the population seriously, in different ways.
Can you explain the migration in the region as a result of climate change?
To start with, around Lake Chad, people who depended on fishing had to move when water was no longer on their side. Some went into farming. And when the same scenario played out, they moved on too. Everybody moved south wards in Sudan Savannah where the situation is more palatable. There are communities that have moved completely or their population reduced due to migration.
There are places where ground water has been reduced by the heat?
The ground water, to some extent, depends on rainwater. If rain is not falling normally, certainly the ground water will reduce because of poor recharge. Also, increased extraction of ground water by the population definitely has become noticeable too. People have sunk bole holes that are so deep and they extract water at great depth and you cannot use such sources for agriculture except for some small-scale farming.
What about rivers that are drying up?
You know most of the rivers in the area are seasonal rivers and they depend on rainfall. As soon as rain falls, demand on water from such rivers is always on the increase, and within a very short time, they are exhausted. Human beings and livestock exhaust the water within a few months.
If you look at the issue of food security, is this not a disaster waiting to happen?
It’s a potential disaster for Nigeria because the region is a rich source of food — not just for people who live there, not for the North, but for all parts of the country. Over the years, it has supplied vegetable, fish, cereals and beans to other places. These food items are produced in large quantities in this region and taken to other parts of the country. Because of Climate Change, people are not able to produce enough for their consumption, let alone export. The south had depended for a long time on vegetables from the region. And without good rainfall, people cannot do anything. The agriculture they now carry out is just for local consumption.
A hungry man is an angry man. When people have nothing to do, no food to eat or no future, there is tension. Is this not linked to the tension in the region?
That’s correct. You know that agriculture employs majority of population in the region. When they are affected by weather or climate, these people would lose their jobs. When people have no jobs or anything that can bring food to their table, they become targets for those who perpetrate evil and conflicts. In a way, the conflicts in the North East can be attributed to the lack of employment due to the dwindling nature of agriculture in the region caused by erratic weather pattern.
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Author of this article: By Tunde Akingbade

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