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Why Nigeria needs special climate intervention

Despite not being included in the league of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the widely held view is that Nigeria may perhaps need as much international support, if not more, as the LDCs member nations, because of the security and other socio-economic issues it faces that are akin to those of the LDCs.

Nigeria at COP22: Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment, Oluremi Tinubu (right), with Environment Minister, Amina Mohammed; Environment Minister of State, Ibrahim Usman Jibril; and Director, Department of Climate Change, Dr Peter Tarfa, in Marrakech, Morocco

For more than a decade, Africa’s giant has been battling serious insecurity issues caused by the activities of the Boko Haram Islamic terrorist group, allegedly recruiting locals of neighbouring countries, impoverished by rapidly encroaching desert, drought, famine and other climate-induced disasters.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment, Mrs Oluremi Tinubu, who was part of the Nigerian delegation to the UN climate change conference (COP22) in Marrakech, Morocco, confirmed the threat the country faces by sharing borders with nations in distress.

“Climate change is not something that is visible but the impact is what we see.In Nigeria, it is affecting us in all fronts. If we had managed the desertification threatening the northerners, cattle rustling and a lot of things and also Boko Haram would not be the issue.And we can learn that when people livelihood is threatened, they can do the unimaginable. It’s like what we are seeing or confronting us and we are trying to get what doesn’t belong to us by force. If you have seen the movie called “Nowhere to run”, and that’s why every body has to see what is going on. So, where are we going to run to? And Nigeria with our population, who is going to house us if somethng happens? That’s the most reason that we have to look at ways of combating them,” she told a team of local and foreign journalists in an interview shortly after the Nigerian delegation unveiled its road map for implementing its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) at the summit.

That Nigeria’s sustainable development is under threat due to undue influence of distressed neighbouring African nations, who form part of worlds least developed countries, has been a topical issue, which has also been widely reported.

For instance, a recent BBC report revealed that locals from nearby countries were induced with money to join the Boko Haram terrorist group to attack Nigeria and its territories.

One of the recruited members reportedly told the BBC: “We only do it for the money. Regularly, they come across the border, looking for recruits. They have paid Nigerian naira ($3,085, £1,835) to those of us who followed them over there. When they come, we inform them about what’s going on, what the security forces are up to. We have no jobs; some of us are still at high school, but we need money. Violence has become a form of work for us.”

Nigeria’s current population based on United Nations estimates is 188,750,850 which is equivalent to 2.48% of the total world population.

Analysts feel the figure grows by the day due to the large illegal migration of foreigners especially from the desert ravaged Sahara and Sahel regions bordering northern Nigeria, the stronghold of Boko Haram activities.

This large human intrusion into Nigeria mounts serious and undue stress on the country’s fragile infrastructure and well being, it was gathered.

Now, one of the major objectives of COP22 was to rally assistance in support of LDCs and as part of the road-map for implementation, LDC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative (REEEI) for Sustainable Development, was launched on November, 17, 2016, a day to the end of the COP. The LDCs represent the world’s 48 poorest nations, including Niger, Mali, Togo and Benin, which are Nigeria’s direct and close neighbours.

During the launch of the REEEI, at the Press Conference Room Rabat in the Blue Zone of the COP22 arena, Mr. Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, Chair of the Least Developed Countries Group and Head of delegation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said:

“The initiative will enable LDCs to leapfrog fossil fuel-based energy and light up the lives of millions of energy-starved people through modern, clean and resilient energy systems. The LDC REEEI is an important part of this process emerging from the Marrakech climate conference, providing concrete action to address climate change while empowering the world’s most vulnerable communities to build a path to sustainable development.”

On his part, Mr. Ram Prasad Dhital, Executive Director of Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, Ministry of Population and Environment, Nepal, said: “This initiative would support LDCs to develop the capacity to put in place the policies, regulations and project pipelines needed for greater flows of energy finance.”

It is argued that the provision of effective power to the LDC within the framework of the REEEI, if effective, would go a long way in easing huge burden off Nigeria, because locals from some of the LDC nations who usually run to Nigeria for refuge, would have good reason to remain in their lands.

But, on the other hand, they believe great support is also needed to assist Nigeria rebuild itself from the loss it has suffered and continues to suffer in the hands of the defendant climate-ravaged tiny neighbouring countries.

One of the most pressing goals of Nigeria which it seeks support to address, is saving the rapidly drying-up Lake Chad on its border with Chad Republic which is a key initiative for adaptation.

Lake Chad serves both Nigeria and others neighbouring countries in fishing and agriculture, but its drying up has led to loss of livelihood with attendant consequences including migration, severe poverty and malnutrition, as well as insecurity.

In a booklet distributed at the COP22, the Federal Government of Nigeria says it needs well about $142 billion to fund its NDC which it has mainstreamed into the country’s sustainable development efforts.

President Mohammadu Buhari who was represented by the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, during the Africa Day event at the COP on Wednesday, 16th November, 2016, said the country would launch a Sovereign Green Bond to raise funds for implementing its NDC.

But that won’t go far in solving the enormous problem at hand, thus Nigeria needs huge external fund to reduce greenhouse emission and plan adaptation projects to protect its huge human population from climate change impacts.

“One of the main objectives for delegates (delegates to COP22) is to seek partnerships and support, technical, technology and financial to implement our NDC, estimated to cost $142 billion but yield estimated national benefits of $304 billion(World Bank, 2013). Delegates are strongly encouraged to identify specific projects, programmes and initiatives for support which can be shared with potential partners in discussions at COP22,” says the FG in the COP22 booklet.

According to the FG, “we recognise that Nigeria is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. By 2050, it could cost between 6 percent and 30 percent of our GDP ($100-$460 billion).

“Our population is acutely aware of the risk; the 2012 floods which killed 363 people and displaced more than 2.1 million, the impact on 70 % of Nigerians who rely on rain-fed agriculture, and regional conflicts driven by a shrinking Lake Chad and desertification, are at the top of our minds.

“Despite the challenging time for our economy, the government has continued to prioritise mitigation and adaptation to climate change through the five pillars of the national change agenda, namely power, oil and gas, agriculture, transport and industry. Diversification, especially towards sustainable agriculture, is already a key part of our country’s economic strategy, along with low-carbon power and improving the efficiency of the oil and gas sector.”

President Mohammadu Buhari on September 22nd this year signed the Paris Climate agreement, signifying Nigeria’s support to the global treaty that was the brain child of last climate change conference in Paris, France, known as COP21.

The country has mainstreamed the implementation of the NDC and Paris Agreement into its sustainable development, and would be using aggressive legislation to address the goals, so remarked the Environment Minister who represented the President while unveiling the country’s NDC implementation road-map at the Africa Day event.

“Nigeria submitted its ambitious Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). We have now pledged a 20% reduction greenhouse emission by 2020 and 45 conditional commitments which can be achieved with financial assistance, partnerships, technology transfer and building capacities. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is an integral part of Nigeria’s development and the mission of the Nigerian government through the INDCs is fully in line with them.

“We are focusing on reducing poverty, food security, creating jobs by diversifying the economy, providing a healthy environment and most importantly driving economic development by providing access to energy for our people. This COP22 is the cop of NDC implementation. We have this very much on our minds when our delegations left Paris last year.

“In spite of the global downtown which has affected us domestically, we are committing a reasonable part of our 2017 capital budget to this effort. 2017 capital budget would be a green budget that would reflect Nigeria’s effort to realising our NDC. In addition, we are set to launch our first ever Sovereign Green Bond in the first quarter of 2017. This is intended to fund the series of projects targeted at reducing emission and greening our economy as embedded in our NDC. We are working diligently to strengthen our MRD system as this will help to achieve increase in transparency and accountability that is needed across all sectors and all levels of government.

“On the issue of renewable, our priority is to achieve, energy access, energy security and develop renewable resources for energy. We are strengthening policy in regulatory base. In this regard, we have developed a system of energy for all action agenda and national renewable energy action plan, among other policies. Our expectation is that 30% of this capacity would come from renewable energy. On NDC implementation, for the power sector, we would build on this progress. We will include clear mitigation and adaptation priorities which would also be the basis for budget proposal to attract innovative international climate finance,” she said.

Apart from saving the Lake Chad to make adaptation possible for Nigeria and its neighbours, who are among Least developed countries, addressing power issues, bad roads, and a whole lot others are some of the pressing goals of the Nigerian government, in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. On the issue of power, Nigeria is among beneficiaries of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), which seeks to power up Africa by delivering 10 Gigawatts of electricity by 2020 and 300 Giga watts by 2030 in the African continent, important to drive development in the black continent.

However, considering its large population and the many challenges the country battle with, the funding for the project may not make meaningful impact on the Africa’s giant, who has been struggling to liberate its economy from recession, caused by flat fall in oil price.

Nigeria is a mono-economic nation, deriving about 90% of its foreign exchange from oil, which has lost viability. Addressing the African Union Commission delegates on the realisation of the AREI, the President African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina, who announced that his bank has committed itself to invest $12 billion to the initiative over the next five years, said redemption of pledges and making of more pledges were required from developed countries to realise the “lightening up Africa” project through renewable energy sources.

“Africa cannot develop in the dark. Just take a look at how lack of electricity drags down Africa’s growth and development. For decades, Africa has continued to export raw materials as it does to the subject of global commodity price shock as we are already witnessing. Africa does not have electricity. Lack of access to power has pushed Africa down to the bottom of global value chains. “Africa must power itself to add value to what it produces, speed up industrialisation and move to the top of global value chain. This must start with unlocking the huge potentials of energy on the continent including Africa’s vast potentials in renewable energy as well as no renewable energy. Africa simply needs energy period,” said Adesina.

Analysts say the remark by Adesina applies perfectly to Nigeria’s current situation, believing that efforts by the UNFCCC COP in addressing the plights of developing countries and even least developed countries would make greater impact if special attention is given to Nigeria, which plays fatherly role to some of the so-called poor countries, and suffering huge loss in the process.