By Olusola Adeoye
The House of Representatives’ Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said the nation needs to urgently build technical capacity and make concerted efforts to be able to tackle the challenge of climate change and environmental degradation.
Gbajabiamila stated this on Thursday while launching the Globe Legislators Advancing REDD+ and Natural Capital Governance towards delivery of the 2030 Agenda, a GLOBE-UNEP-GEF project at the National Assembly, lamenting that lack of technical know-how has hindered effective implementation of policies.
According to the Speaker, the task of developing and implementing a concrete strategy that would help in addressing issues of climate change and environmental degradation in Nigeria lies solely with lawmakers and other leaders in the country.
“I am convinced by the scientific evidence before us, and the lived experience of many of our citizens across the country, that developing and implementing a robust strategy to holistically address the challenges of climate change and environmental degradation so as to build a sustainable future for our country, is one of the most important responsibilities we hold as leaders and legislators at this moment in our history”, he stated.
Speaking further, Gbajabiamila said, “this is a concern that we share across the Federal Government of Nigeria, in the Executive and Legislature, and is the reason why we have jointly determined to make coordinated and sustained efforts to develop policy, pass legislation and implement plans and projects expressly intended to protect our environment and achieve sustainable economic growth and national development”.
“Our ability to achieve these goals we have set out is hampered by many factors, including a limited technical capacity for policy development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. We are also limited by the fact that too many of our citizens do not yet fully appreciate the scale of the challenges we face in this regard, and what is required to mount a robust response.
“There is, therefore, an urgent need to take necessary action to build technical capacity in this sector and following from that, make a concerted effort to create public awareness on these issues so that the Nigerian people can become more effective partners in proffering and implementing solutions to today’s challenges and building resilience for the future.”
“It is in this space that GLOBE Legislators Advancing REDD+ Project, which we have gathered here to launch today, has the opportunity and I believe, the ability to make the most impact and to do so quickly, because the challenges we face grow direr by the day, even as the space to take necessary action to avert the worst possible consequences continues to contract rapidly”, the Speaker stressed.
He disclosed that the House has as “part of our Legislative Agenda set out a programme of activities that will among other things, achieve more efficient enforcement of environmental protection laws and regulations, ensure the implementation of policies to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, repair and restore terrain that has been damaged by fossil fuel exploration, urban expansion, erosion and build sustainability into the fabric of policymaking and implementation across all sectors of the Nigerian government and national economy”.
In his welcome remarks, vice president (Africa) Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE) international and president GLOBE Nigeria, Hon. Samuel Onuigbo (PDP, Abia), disclosed that the project, which is co-implemented by two other African countries – Senegal and Democratic Republic of Congo is aimed at reducing emissions from degradation, deforestation and conservation, while pushing for awareness and legislations that promote natural capital accounting in our national development plans.
He lamented that it was an established fact that “one of the drivers of the Boko Haram menace and the farmers/herders clashes in parts of Nigeria and West Africa are directly linked to the drying up of the Lake Chad and the encroachment of the desert into savannah vegetation”
Onuigbo warned that as desertification is racing down in the north, including Nigeria’s northern neighbours saying: “the need to plant millions of trees and build a Great Green Wall from Adamawa to Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe up to Zamfara state has become urgent and important”.
He said “when people have their means of livelihood taken away from them either through drought, desertification, coastal erosion or degradation through oil spillages without commensurate rehabilitation, crime becomes an option hence the rise in criminal activities such as kidnapping, robbery, militancy, insurgency and more”.
Also in his remarks, the chief operating officer and programme director of GLOBE International Secretariat, Brussels, Rafael Jimenez-Aybar said the launch of the GLOBE-UNEP-GEF project simultaneously in Nigeria and Senegal more than ever enunciates the commitment of international bodies to partner with Nigerian stakeholders to achieve the goals of REDD+, the Great Green Wall of the Sahara and Sahel region, and other sustainable development issues.
He also raised the issue of commitment, saying, “the big question remains: how committed are Nigerians to this and to their future? This is not the time to think of oneself alone, leaving generations yet unborn in the lurch, but the time to really be committed to delivering immense value for the people of Nigeria”.
The COO expressed hope that with the efforts of the leadership of GLOBE Nigeria and support of the National Assembly, “Nigeria is eminently positioned to pay its counterpart funding, pass and implement relevant laws that are geared towards achieving these laudable objectives”.