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The environmental sector in 2013 – An analysis

For Nigeria, the situation is not different as yet another minister of environment was removed from office putting the average lifeline of any minister in…

For Nigeria, the situation is not different as yet another minister of environment was removed from office putting the average lifeline of any minister in the sector at two years. The removal brought to a standstill developments initiated by the out-gone minister, Hajiya Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia.
These developments included accelerating the progress of the re-launched shelter belt programme in the frontline northern states, establishment of recycling plants in 26 cities of the federation and the campaign to phase out the use of plastic bags in the country.
Plastic wastes, according to statistics from the ministry have been known to be a major cause of litter in the Nigerian environment, water, pollution, floods and general environmental degradation. Most of our drainage systems, canals and waterways are all clogged by plastic wastes particularly plastic bags and discarded pure water sachets.
The ministry noted that between 500 billion and one trillion shopping bags were used annually, adding that only 8 per cent of the number are recycled.
“Here in Nigeria, plastic waste accounts for more than 20 per cent of the municipal solid waste stream. The federal government recognises that uncontrolled use of plastic materials and indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste particularly shopping bags and pure water sachets present a clear and imminent danger to the Nigerian environment and its citizens,” the statistics said.
The 2012 unprecedented flood, according to the statistics from the ministry was one of the consequences of the indiscriminate disposal of plastic materials.
The campaign, Our Environment, Our Life, also initiated by Mailafia was jettisoned and within days after her exit as minister it was back to business as usual.
Within the year under review, the Nigerian Metrological Agency (NIMET) predicted heavy rain fall which would lead to massive flooding in areas that hitherto had no experience of flood.
NIMET prediction was quickly followed by other government agencies including the Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency giving a further insight to the nature of flood to come and they concluded that the 2013 flood was going to be massive and more destructive than what happened in 2012.
But a group of residents in Kaduna State which had taken their time to monitor and study the weather pattern in the state over the years immediately doubted NIMET’s prediction insisting that the flood would not happen. The year has ended and between NIMET and the local people, Nigerians now know who to trust on issues of rainfall or flood prediction.
But Dr. Akor Adejo, a geographer noted that because the rain and flood didn’t come as predicted by NIMET does not mean that agency was wrong in its prediction. “There is just the need for NIMET to be more conscious of its responsibilities.”
Nigeria also participated in the global climate change meeting convened annually by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to discuss modalities on how to reduce the impact of climate change as well as prepare nations to adapt to the climatic impact ended two weeks ago in Warsaw, Poland.
The two-week meeting which outcome has raised questions from representatives of developing countries which are already suffering from the impact of climate was attended by representatives of all member countries under the United Nations system.
But unfortunately, Nigeria which is one of the countries already being impacted by climate change and which hitherto was a leading voice among negotiators on the need for developed countries to champion initiatives aimed at cushioning the impact of climate change on Africa and the developing countries at large was missing from the meeting when crucial negotiations on needed strategies to support those feeling the impact of climate change was been discussed.
Investigation on why Nigeria’s seat was vacant at the opening of conference as well as throughout the first week of negotiations revealed that “government could not raise the needed finance to support representatives to the meeting.”
Ironically, the 2013 budget has approved for Nigeria’s participation under the sub-head of climate change conference in the ministry of environments budget.
Under the approved budget, fund was allocated for the pre conference activities which include preparatory meeting for negotiators, media and other stakeholders.
But surprisingly, the preparatory meetings which were held a few days to the official opening of the conference was sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and officials of the ministry of environment at the preparatory meeting noted that the meeting was held so late due to the non-availability of fund hence the intervention by UNDP.
The question stakeholders are asking therefore is: What happened to the budgeted allocation for the conference? Was it not released? Is Nigeria serious about addressing the impact of climate change? Must Nigeria still beg international organisations for funding where there is a budget? Will Nigeria lag behind if the climate change commission was in place? Will the climate change bill make a difference?
While observers were struggling to understand what became of Nigeria’s position in the global meeting, the acting minister of environment, Arc. Dairus Dickson Ishaku, who arrived at the meeting in its final days gave a speech regarded as the Nigeria’s position at the conference’s general assembly and what did he say? He was pleading with the international community to assist with funds to attend such meetings.
But unknown to the minister, negotiators especially from the developed countries including the USA and EU during the first week of the conference had insisted that addressing climate change impact was not about giving money to developing countries but that developing countries should be seen to be making conscious efforts in addressing the impact of climate change under a national programme rather than wait or demand for funds.
The Ogoni report detailing the extent of oil spill in Ogoniland and remediation strategies to adopt prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme is still on the shelf gathering dust.
After two years of the report, oil spill and gas flaring have continued unabated, leaving Nigerians in the Niger Delta to go abroad to seek justice on the destruction done to their environment.
Reports of death of children and women in Bagega may have stopped in the media but the illegal mining of gold which was responsible for the untimely death of over 500 children in Zamfara is still on.
 As the year comes to an end, the story was not all sad for the environment sector; the country was able to make progress in its ability to tap into the United Nations Reducing Emission from Deforestation as the request for more funds to enhance capacities for the implementation of the programme in Nigeria was approved by the world body.
During the year, a more detailed outline on the implementation of the NEWMAP project of which the country got a 600 million dollars loan from the World Bank to tackle erosion in the South East was also released.

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