World Environment Day: Rep Onuigbo Calls For Concerted Efforts To Tackle Environmental Challenges

 

Marking the 2024 World Environment Day, the member representing South East at the Governing Board of the North East Development Commission (NEDC), Rep Sam Onuigbo, has called for a multifaceted effort to tackle the devastating impacts of environmental challenges.

He said addressing environmental and developmental challenges required a collaborative effort involving all tiers of government, the private sector and the civil society organizations,stating that all hands must be on deck to nip in the bid, the devastating impacts of these existential threats.

Delivering a Keynote address at the 2024 World Environmental Day celebration,held at the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike,Rep Sam Onuigbo,who is also the chairman, Committee on Security, Climate Change and Special Interventions at the NEDC, said the Environmental Day celebration is an important event that helps to highlight major environmental challenges and as well, promote possible solutions in tackling them.

 

According to the Climate Change Expert, the objective of the commemoration is to advocate for policy changes and promote environmental policies at local, national and international levels with the aim of encouraging communities to take action towards protecting the environment. He added that the celebration was very important to all humans, animals, plants,seas and land, both those in villages, communities and urban centers.

The Keynote Speaker disclosed that the theme of this year’s event, which focuses on “Land Restoration, Desertification and Drought Resilience,” was apt, as it seemed as if it was razor-made to address the challenges of desertification, drought and the need to restore degraded land across 11 Northern States of the country, covering about 1531 kilometers.


He said the centre-piece of the theme led to the drying up of Lake Chad, forced migration, competition for scarce resources, security challenge and the resultant insurgency, banditry and kidnapping in that part of the country, has become a challenge that has even spread to other parts of the nation.

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Onuigbo further highlighted some of the constitutional provisions and the Climate Change Act 202, stating that, “Section 20 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), states: “The state shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wild life of Nigeria.” Furthermore, Section 33(1) of the Constitution states that “every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.’’

“Without a safe and peaceful planet, everyone is endangered. It was therefore in a bid to achieve international obligations that the Paris Agreement and other conventions like the “Rio Triplets’’ set to ensure a safe and productive environment for the good of humanity that Nigeria enacted the Climate Change Act 2021.

“Under Part 1- Objectives and Application of the Climate Change Act 2021, which I was privileged to sponsor in the Nigerian Parliament, stipulates in section 1: “This Act provides a framework for achieving low greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, inclusive green growth,by mainstreaming climate change actions in line with national development priorities.’’

Rep Sam Onuigbo, fielding questions from Journalists

He Specifically noted that sections 3, 19, 20, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 34, among others, of the Act recognizes the importance of protecting the environment and preserving the planet and the urgent need to do it and accordingly, made relevant provisions to guide Nigeria’s climate actions in attaining the above objectives while meeting international objections. “Section 3 of the Act provides for the establishment of the National Council on Climate Change (The Council) and vests it with the powers to make policies and decisions on all matters concerning climate change in Nigeria.

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“To encourage communities to take action towards protecting the environment, explains why we included in section 26 that, “the Secretariat shall, with the approval of the Council, advise the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) responsible for regulating educational curriculum in Nigeria on the integration of Climate Change into the various disciplines and subjects across all educational levels”.

He said in line with the above provision in Section 26 for “the integration of climate change into the various disciplines and subjects across all educational levels,’’ Section 22 mandates every MDA to have a Climate Change Desk Officer of a Directorate cadre, whose responsibility it is to ensure that climate action is mainstreamed into the annual plans and budgeting of all MDAs in Nigeria. This provision will create employment for qualified Nigerians.

 

“According to the Executive Director, NRCRI, Prof Chiedozie Egesi, this commemoration, serves as a platform for fostering environmental action and engaging communities in sustainable living.This is precisely why we provided in section 30 of the Act for extensive public engagement.

“Section 27 states that the Council (National Council on Climate Change) shall promote and adopt nature-based solutions towards reducing GHG emissions and mitigating climate change issues in Nigeria. Nature -based solutions, especially, is the sustainable management and use of natural processes to address certain challenges without impacting nature. Nature, which comprises forest , water, land, air is home to all the world’s terrestrial and aquatic life providing shelter and livelihood for earth’s human and animal population. For example, restoring mangroves along coastlines uses (nature-based) solutions to achieve several goals”,he said.

 

Rep Sam Onuigbo further Stated that in Nigeria, there are devastating impacts from desertification, floods, gully and coastal erosion leading to loss of assets worth billions of US Dollars and several deaths. “According to World Bank’s assessment of Nigeria’s 2022, flooding incident, the direct economic damage was estimated around US $7billion, excluding lives lost. These deadly occurrences are stark reminders that we are living in dangerous times. The cumulative impacts and global disruption caused by these extreme weather events support the call that collaborative and coordinated efforts by all, are required to protect our planet”.

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He commended the nation’s President, Sen Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR, who has clearly exercised leadership by taking many far-reaching and positive climate actions in the first year of his administration.

The Sponsor of the Climate Change Act, further called on everybody to engage in and encourage eco-friendly practices, as these would in turn ensure that a more prosperous and sustainable future is secured for this and future generations.

Meanwhile, he thanked Prof Chiedozie Egesi, the Executive Director and the Management of the NRCRI, for inviting him to give the keynote address for the 2024 celebration, stating that annually, the “World Environment Day” must be accorded important recognition and meaningful celebration, so as to internalize that fact in the hearts and minds of everyone, especially the young ones.