Flood Stage: Environmental Activists Get To Serious Talk On Climate Change
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THE flood, which submerged houses in Lokoja, the confluence town of Rivers Niger and Benue has serious environmental challenges.
Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, was billed to declare open a regional climate change summit in Osogbo recently. But somehow, he was in Abuja in the morning of the conference and he thought he would easily make it to Osogbo, about four hours by road from Abuja. He was stunned at the precarious situation that flooding had put residents and travelers crossing from south to the northern part of the country.
Although he finally made it to Osogbo for the summit, it was through great pains. When he was declaring the ceremony open, he needed no scientific data to buttress his point to the audience.
Aregbesola, who used the experience to illustrate his point, said: “If a year ago, someone had told us that a day will come when Nigerians will not be able to transverse the country and move from the north to the south not due to any security threat but by an act of nature, we would not believe it. What we are witnessing in the country today vividly illustrates the point that climate change has more than social implication.
“This means without any war, Nigeria can be ripped apart by nature. It’s therefore the duty of every government to apply resources judiciously to prevent disasters and tragedies; because when tragedies occur, it is very difficult to quantify the loss to the nation and its citizens.”
The governor wondered why Africans and the black race still lag behind in preventing disasters, especially with the advancement in technology. He said there was an urgent need to address the problem of climate change on a very pragmatic and integrated manner because the challenges cut across state boundaries.
“It is what is happening now that we know, who knows what will happen next year. Unless there is a concerted effort at minimizing the drastic effects of climate change, very soon the whole country would be littered with settlement camps with millions of internally displaced Nigerians everywhere.”
The conference, which brought together environment stakeholders in the six southwestern states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti, was a two-day high-level meeting to chart common solutions to the problems associated with climate change.
The event, which was in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Environment and Sanitation of Osun, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the African Adaptation Programme (AAP), was facilitated by HEDA Resource Centre to address Climate Change, Environmental Conservation and Sustainable Development in the South-Western part of Nigeria.
About 200 participants and 20 resource persons drawn from the academia, civil society groups, Federal Ministry of Environment, National Human Rights Commission (NHC), Nigeria Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Ministries of Environment, Physical Planning, Finance, Agriculture, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Regional Integration from participating states attended the summit, which took place at the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, Osogbo, Osun.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the summit, participants noted that a common regional response approach to the climate change challenge and environmental conservation is not only necessary, but also critical and imperative.
Participants agreed there was need for an institutionalized monitoring mechanism across the six states of the region for purposes of environmental governance; and the need for states to aggressively embark on reliable baseline data gathering and regularly update same to enhance environmental planning, protection and preservation.
They called on the governments of the south western region to, as a must, provide adequate funding and other resources to promote high quality research that is critical for effective mitigation, adaptation and green development, adding that the governments should urgently mainstream climate change and environmental conservation into the developmental plans of local governments in the region.
The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Muiz Adeyemi Banire, former Commissioner for Environment, Lagos State, and four papers were presented by Professors S. O. Bada, Labo Popoola, Emmanuel Kayode Oladipo and Olanrewaju Fagbohun.
Author of this article: By Tunde Akingbade
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