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Climate Change And Nigeria’s Economic Development: A Letter To The Incoming President by Solomon Ekoja

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                                                                              78 Shima Gyoh Street,

                                                     Gboko,

                                                              Benue State.

                                                                          

Incoming President,

Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Sir,

CLIMATE CHANGE AND NIGERIA’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Let me start by congratulating you for the tremendous effort you put in during the campaign period to convince Nigerians about your desire to transform the nation. Your emergence as the president is proof of trust and a testament to the prophecy that “Nigeria will rise again from her slumber to take back her position as the giant of the black race”.

Your Excellency, as a concerned youth in the grass root witnessing the travails of Nigerians, I wish to draw your attention to the issue of climate change and its effects on Nigeria’s economic development.

According to the World Bank, climate change refers to the significant variation of weather conditions becoming for example warmer, wetter or drier- over several decades or longer. Economic development on the other hand refers to the process by which a nation improves the economic, political and social well-being of its people.

Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in Nigeria because it employs over 60% of our citizens and contributes 35% to our GDP. In spite of these revelations, climate change poses a great threat to our economic stability and development. The recent flood across the country for instance led to the loss of thousands of hectares of rice farms and other crops. Statistics from the Federal Government reveal that about 2,504,095 people nationwide were affected. Out of this number, 1,302,589 were displaced, 2,407 were injured and about 603 lives were lost. For farmlands, 108392 hectares were partially damaged while 332327 hectares were damaged. Due to these damages, many businesses were shut leading to economic decline. Workers and professionals too who should have been productively engaged are wasting away in IDP camps. These losses will definitely reduce the income of many Nigerians, exacerbate food scarcity, increase the cost of living and push the country to divert funds that should have been used for developmental projects to import food.

In recent times, the unpredictable rainfall patterns across the country have continued to disrupt the supply of electricity. With the economy, depending upon hydroelectricity to operate smoothly, the erratic supply of electricity is frustrating the economic development of the country.

In Northern Nigeria, prolonged periods of drought and desertification affects the yield of crops, decreases livestock production, discourages people from working and also fuels wildfires while dust causes respiratory illness that causes deaths annually. This consequently leads to reduced productivity from the region.

Nigeria’s wide biodiversity once contributed greatly to her GDP in the past but due to climate change, the reverse is the case presently.

Security concerns have heightened over increased competition for natural resources because of climate change. For instance, the shrinkage of the Lake Chad and other water bodies that once provided water for cattle in the North stimulated the transhumance migration of herders towards the Southern part of the country. As they clashed with farmers, it gave rise to the farmer-herdsmen crisis that claimed the loss of lives and properties.

Job opportunities that thrive upon good climatic conditions like fishing and beekeeping have decreased in recent times because of climate change. In the riverine areas for instance, many inhabitants depend upon fishing for livelihood but due to the shrinkage of water bodies and ocean heating, the unemployment rate in these areas has risen due to the loss of jobs. The consequent scarcity of labour leads to the mass migration of Nigerians to areas with higher economic fortunes.

Climate change also increases the burden of diseases like malaria and cholera, thereby, stretching the limited resources available for the nation’s health sector. For instance, there is a multiplication of tsetse flies within the Southern part of the country. According to the World Health Organization, about 7000-10000 new cases of African trypanosomiasis is recorded annually. It, therefore, means these victims will be unproductive during their illness resulting in the loss of revenue for the country.

The abnormal increase in temperature often makes sea water level rise beyond the banks to cause flooding and the death of aquatic organisms. Heat waves according to researches, makes plants like vegetables to misbehave during the production cycle. Tomato for instance contributes greatly to our GDP but due to excess heat because of climate change, the flowers wither and become brittle before falling off the plant. High temperature also impedes the activities of pollinators like bees and butterflies, which contribute greatly to food production yearly. With the average pollination temperature range between 60°F to 90°F, excess heat slows down pollination and makes plants produce deformed yields.

For Nigeria to overcome the numerous challenges posed by climate change to the agricultural sector, which employs over 120 million Nigerians, breeders and agricultural scientists across our higher institutions of learning, should be supported to breed crops with the potential to tolerate droughts, resist the impact of flooding and withstand the negative impacts of climate change. Livestock shouldn’t be left out of the breeding programme. Tsetse fly-resistant animals should be bred to boost productivity and increase the nation’s GDP.

Furthermore, there is need for dams to be built as reservoirs for excess water in regions where flood persists to prevent the loss of lives and properties. This can be augmented with the provision of water channels across every community to properly channel water into waterways. The water bodies in the country also needs to be dredged to make them accommodate more water when the dams in Cameroun are periodically opened. For drought prone-regions, excess water collected during the rainy season should be re-channelled to these places through irrigation services to encourage food production and boost the economy.

In addition, there is a need for tree planting to be made mandatory for every Nigerian. When this is done, there will be soil stability, biodiversity protection, purification of the atmosphere and reduction in erosion.

Plastics and other forms of waste currently burden many a community. To overcome this challenge, the culture of recycling should be adopted to convert waste to wealth thereby, creating employment opportunities for unemployed Nigerians.

The amount of automobiles currently plying our streets generate greenhouse gases that are harmful to man and his environment. To reduce pollution, carbon-emitting automobiles should be highly taxed to encourage the adoption of environmentally friendly means of transport like cycling, electric cars.

Closely related to this is the use of renewable sources of energy. With fossil fuels currently damaging the environment, migrating to the use of solar energy will protect the environment and create niches for unemployed Nigerians to thrive.

Public enlightenment should be encouraged to educate Nigerians about climate change prevention. Women should also be empowered through the provision of sustainable businesses capable of discouraging them from engaging in anti-climactic activities. Youth-led organizations should be supported considering the unique role youths play in fuelling climate change.

Finally, I believe your administration will not pay lip service to Nigerians but implement the measures discussed to reduce climate change and boost the nation’s economic development before transferring them to our African brothers for continental adoption.

Yours Sincerely,

Ekoja Okewu.

Resources:

https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden-news/heatwave-makes-vegetables-misbehave

https://saharareporters.com/2022/09/24/nigerian-farmers-lament-floods-wash-away-rice-fields-may-bring-poor-harvests

https://punchng.com/fg-says-flood-kiled-603-blames-state-lgs

https://climateknowledgeportal.worldbank.org/overview

https://denver-south.com/what-is-economic-development

https://www.inter-reseaux.org/en/publication/51-special-issue-nigeria/a-look-at-agriculture-and-agribusiness-in-nigeria

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