Climate Change: Nigeria has Nowhere to Run

Nigeria faces a looming climate and environmental crisis that it can no longer afford to ignore. Creeping effects of climate change and unchecked environmental degradation in communities across the country, now pose monumental socio-economic, political and sustainable development challenges for the nation. With the country’s population projected to balloon to 440 million by 2050, pressure on resources pose a real and present danger and risk to the subregion and beyond.

On November 17, 2015, the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua premiered a documentary titled “Nowhere to Run: Nigeria’s Climate and Environmental Crisis”. You can watch the trailer below.

Narrated by Ken Saro-Wiwa, Jr, the documentary tells the story of the environmental threats and unique challenges to security in Nigeria from the perspective of the affected communities. It connects the dots between climate, environmental degradation, and security. The film was produced as an advocacy tool to raise awareness of the defining challenge of our time.

There is scientific consensus that the earth’s climate is changing. According to NASA, the average global temperature is 0.75 degree Celsius higher than it was in the 1950s. There is also evidence that this rise in temperature corresponds to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Rising temperatures and ocean levels correspond to rise of carbon dioxide levels

Rising temperatures and ocean levels correspond to rise of carbon dioxide levels

The recent surge in carbon dioxide levels are as a result of growing global appetite for carbon based fuels, the consumption of which produces a large amount of CO2.
Apart from rising temperatures, the change in atmospheric conditions as a result of CO2 has an impact on long term changes observed in weather patterns.

In Nigeria, these extreme weather patterns – fiercer, longer dry seasons and shorter, more intense raining seasons – are exacerbating the challenges already confronting our communities.

In northern Nigeria, rapid desert encroachment is contributing to the escalation of conflict between farmers and herders as well as food insecurity.  The shrinking of Lake Chad over the past 40 years has led to poverty and displacement of farm and fishing communities in the north east – factors which many experts believe contributed to the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Progressive shrinking of Lake Chad over the past 50 years has had socio-economic and security impact on affected communities

Progressive shrinking of Lake Chad over the past 50 years has had socio-economic and security impact on affected communities

In southern Nigeria, intensified rainfall has resulted in the kind of floods that cause death and devastation. In the south eastern parts of Nigeria, heavier downpours have accelerated erosion that has destroyed the land and fertility of the soil, forcing members of affected communities to relocate. Further south towards the coast, communities are losing their lands and being displaced as a result of rising sea levels.

Although the nature of the impact of climate change on Nigeria varies from place to place, the net effect is the depletion of finite environmental resources in every part of the country. If we consider that these resources are crucial to supporting a rapidly growing population, then the conclusion is that we are confronted with a huge national development challenge.

There are two responses we can adopt to climate change, namely: Mitigation and Adaptation.

Mitigation involves reducing the impact that our human activities are having on climate change. Mitigation strategies include transitioning to cleaner energy sources for homes and businesses (to reduce emissions) and slowing down the rate of deforestation (to preserve the earth’s capacity to evacuate CO2). Mitigation response to climate change generates some scientific contention. Some scientists still disagree on just how much our activities contribute to global warming and if any effort we make could significantly slow it down. Because of this uncertainty, some argue that urgent calls for global commitments to drastic mitigation measures are alarmist – creating an unjust impediment for economies and businesses that are dependent on fossil fuels.

For Nigeria however, this contention is immaterial. Even without contributing to the cause of climate change, activities like oil spills, gas flares and timber cutting in Nigeria are destroying natural defenses to its already established effects. Furthermore, these activities are contributing to the depletion of crucial environmental resources at a rate sufficient to justify desperate mitigation measures.

Adaptation means anticipating the impacts of climate change and taking adequate steps to manage the effects on our way of life, economy and our national development aspirations. To adapt effectively to climate change, Nigeria needs to answer crucial questions like: With our forest resources reduced to 10% of what it used to be, how do we sustain the construction industry? How do we support the energy needs of 80% of our population who rely on depleting sources of fuel wood for cooking? How will communities manage the influx of people who are displaced as a result of desertification, erosion, floods and sea encroachment? How do we improve the productivity of finite land resources to ensure food security for a growing population?

Given that answers to questions like these will be critical to our continued survival as a nation, Nigeria needs all the help it can get. Therefore, the increased global commitment to combating climate change presents an immense opportunity for Nigeria. Nigeria can leverage the benefits of global action to accelerates its own local efforts.

Western countries have estimated a 30-50 year window within which adaptation has to happen if we are to avoid climate induced catastrophe. For Nigeria, this window is significantly shorter. The rate at which our population is growing and the decades of neglect our environmental has had to endure, have put Nigeria on a faster clock.

And with every additional cubic feet of gas flared, that clock ticks a little faster.

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I Wonder If They Taught You This in History Class…

Lord Frederick Lugard - The betrayed lover boy. 😀

It was to a man, who was a smart but wayward youth that Europe ceded the rights to establish Nigeria as a commercial empire and to determine it’s borders.

Sir George Dashwood Taubman Goldie flunked out of school as a child, spent time adventuring with the British Army in Egypt and Sudan and ran off with the family governess in his early twenties.  Yet, in his early 40s, the famous Berlin Conference of 1885 ceded to his Company, National Africa Company, the rights to oversee trade in the territory soon to become Nigeria and to set its borders.

And so it was that the territory Nigeria, and its borders, were defined to serve the specific interests of the Goldie family and the larger interests of the British crown.

For the next 15 years, Sir George Goldie, proceeded to brutally exploit this hard won territory to his maximum advantage. He would employ the use of force, negotiation and deception to secure hundreds of treaties with local tribesmen and chieftains guaranteeing his company access to the many resources the territory had to offer. Being that the commodity his company traded in was mostly palm oil, he had focused most of his efforts in the south, leaving most of northern Nigeria untouched.

In 1900, however, the British Crown moved to take direct control of the twin regions of north and south Nigeria. The British Government rescinded Goldie’s charter to do business in the region and paid him and his company 450,000 pounds in compensation.

So for just a little over 200 million pounds in today’s money, the British Empire purchased the rights to Nigeria – north and south.

At this time, the south was mostly under British control and in fact, there were some parts that had been under British control for over 40 years. The north, however, was a different proposition. When the British government took over in 1900 only three northern districts – Ilorin, Borgu and Kabba – were under effective British control. But that was not the only problem. Trade, the lifeblood of the British Empire was negligible in the north.

In order to foster this trade, the north had to be conquered. The British decided that Sir Frederick Lugard, born in 1858 in Madras, India was the man for the job.

So it was that a man, who had suffered a near career-ending heartbreak at the age of 29 after discovering the love of his life in bed with another man, became the conqueror of Northern Nigeria.

And he didn’t face much of a resistance. The people of the northern states were neither determined nor united to repulse the British. Years of despotic rule, slave raiding and punitive taxes had left local leaders with little support. For most, the coming of the British was a welcome relief.

There was nothing to fight for. No values to defend. No dignity left to shed precious blood for.

And the tribal disunity that facilitated the rapid conquest of Nigeria will not escape the British. In fact, they would continue to play it up and exploit it to sustain their control. But none of these divisions will be as important as the one that had been inherited from the Sir Goldie era – the north/south divide.

The conquest of the north did not yield the long term results that the British had hoped for. Britain was not earning enough in taxes and trade from the region to pay for its administration. In fact, in 1910, exports from the south amounted to 4.3m pounds (about 2bn pounds in today’s money) while those from the north did not exceed 200,000 pounds. The north was relying on southern subsidies and sizable grants from London to pay its bills. This was not acceptable to the British Government. By policy, each protectorate was to be self-funding. Therefore, there was only one simple solution. The two protectorates were to be united into one self-funding unit – under one administration and one budget.

Once again, the betrayed lovebird, Sir Frederick Lugard was the man Britain entrusted with the job to make that happen. He would go about the assignment in a way that only a man smarting from betrayal and suffering from distrust would. He would unite the administration but discourage any sense of unity and national purpose. It would serve his – and Britain’s – interests to keep the country ideologically, religiously and politically divided. A united Nigeria would have been difficult and terribly expensive for Lugard to control. However, if north and south were conveniently pitched against each other, a problem halved would be a problem solved.

So the north retained Islamic law traditions and feudal rule while the south adopted English law and welcomed Christian missionaries and education. So Nigeria was one accounting unit, one budget and one colony. But it would not be one nation. Lugard had fulfilled the letter of his assignment but he had killed the spirit of it.

Nigeria was shaped by Britain’s financial expediency and Lugard’s nervous conservatism – an entirely British creation:

Since existing as two separate territories, a series of British businessmen, adventurers and politicians had determined existence, border and political structure – sometimes to amuse or please themselves. Sir Goldie George had drawn the famous jagged lines on the map that determined which parts of what lands would comprise the country. He had done so in his own privacy, driven by his own business interests, ignorant of the histories and traditions of those involved. Lugard’s wife, Flora Shaw, also a Briton, had given Nigeria it’s name. She had proposed the name in the column she wrote for The Times of London as a play on the name of the River Niger. The British had even determined the common language Nigerians will speak: English

And in all of this, Nigerians were barely consulted, if at all.

General Gist: 09-08-2011 – CDGG, Naija Women, Football etc…

Committee for the Demystification of Government and Governance… (Updates)

I put up a post yesterday about forming this committee and installing myself as its Chairman. Since then, I have got some for feedback about my “laudable” idea and how useful it would be in moving our nation forward. None of the feedback opposed or questioned my position as “Chairman” (well, except one, which I am going to ignore since it isn’t aligned with my “transformation agenda”).

So I have given this some thought and I have decided as follows:

1. To recruit new members to the committee (as long as each member swears an oath of allegiance to the chairman)

2. That we will operate like the “Adjustment Bureau” dudes… complete with the Fedora hats. Not figured out yet how we can pass through “substrates” but I will form a sub-committee for the actualization of that ambition.

3. We need a logo (coat of arms), website, and a Terms of Reference… (this is where I need your help – suggest ideas to me… so I can say “its not my idea!”)

Over the weekend…

First of all, @dadashnami, @eddiemadaki and @sirUyi rock. Because of these great people, my Saturday can be described as a blast! Thank you Grotto, Abuja.

Arsenal lost again. I don’t know how else to be hopeful. Now I wish I had “decked” Wenger when I ran into him in June at Heathrow Airport.

But it will be a long, hard season for us gunners. I am bracing myself for it.

Nigerian women with bad attitude: So why do we have this problem? Ok, so you are pretty and smart have big hips/boobs and every man wants you… hence you have to be a social porcupine – ready to shoot darts at anything that crosses your self-imposed perimeter of insecurity. Not saying, don’t be firm in resisting unwanted advances, but it is a cultured and confident woman that is capable of managing the pressures of being attractive with grace and modesty (and not every social contact with the opposite sex is an advance… if you get what I mean).

The irony of this is that when these women eventually lower their guards, they do so for the wrong reasons. There are certain aspects in life where betting on the big gorilla (presumably a loaded one) isn’t necessarily #winning.

So, to whom it may concern, don’t be a weist!

Saudi Arabia 0 – 2 Nigeria: We faced our first real test in the U-20 FIFA World Cup in Colombia on Saturday and we sailed through. I was particularly impressed by our ability to take the few opportunities we had. I also have a thing for long range goals (ironic for an Arsenal fan)… which we have been scoring a lot of…

Ok, so the age thing is an issue. I am paying attention to the discussions around it. Following @Ikwerreman’s tweets on the issue has been very insightful. Not to make any excuses, I do think we have improved over the years in this area, although not as much as we should. It is frustrating that we can’t completely enjoy a victory in an age grade competition without age-cheating casting a guilty shadow.

What I am working on at the moment…

Technology initiatives for governance and development with @nnabros, @ebyboi, @blazeotokpa and a few others. Will give updates on this from time to time… but we have been meeting and putting together some frameworks.

Enough is Enough RSVP project documentation: Working with the EIE family on this one. Details later, but it’s exciting!!

Broadband Blueprint and Framework for Nigeria – Work related.

Reading list:

My Nigeria – Peter Cunliffe-Jones; Nigerian National e-Infrastructure Strategy 2011 (NITDA), The First National Implementation Plan for NV20:2020 (vol I & vol II).

If anyone is reading these… we can discuss. 🙂