BLDR. MOHAMMED RABIU, Ph.D in view
As defined by the United Nations “CLIMATE CHANGE refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts which is recorded over a long time may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle or man made such as burning of bushes and plastics
Since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. Burning fossil fuels generates greenhouse gas emissions that act like a blanket wrapped around the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures.
Greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change include carbon dioxide and methane. These come from using gasoline for driving our cars or coal for heating a building or train: for example. Clearing land and forests can also release carbon dioxide. Landfills for garbage are a major source of methane emissions. Energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and land use are among the main emitters.
Frameworks and agreements to guide progress in dealing with climate change and its effects such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, COP26 amongst others are among efforts by global leaders in mitigating the effects of climate change on our environment and consequently on our existence as humans.
Now let’s look at the direct connection between Climate Change and insecurity in Nigeria.
Climate change as a matter of fact is affecting our health, ability to grow food, housing, safety, work (employment), economy and indeed national security. Even the average primary school pupil knows that.
Leading social scientists have described climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’ due to the way in which it has exacerbated pre-existing problems in the world, Africa and Nigeria. Indeed that theory is currently playing out across Nigeria with deadly force. A large chunk of the current conflicts and insecurity in Nigeria is being driven by global warming occasioned by Climate Change.
Globally, the period of 2011-2020 was the hottest decade on record; a scorching record that has appeared to have affected the Sahel hugely. This area of semi-arid grassland was affected more than most regions, with its temperatures increasing 1.5 times more than average during this period causing unprecedented periods of drought and desertification.
Within this region lies Lake Chad, a key source of water for over 30 million people from Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. From 1960, the Lake Chad Basin has lost 90% of its surface water, a lifeline for so many.
President Muhammadu Buhari soberly noted to a UN Conference in 2018 that, ‘‘the ‘oasis in the desert’ is just a desert now… Farmers and herdsmen struggle over the little water left; Herdsmen migrate in search of greener pastures resulting in conflicts; Our youths are joining terrorist groups because of lack of jobs and difficult economic conditions.’’
Furthermore, 60% of the sub-Saharan population depend on agriculture to survive. Food insecurity is intensified by disruptions to rain cycles, planting seasons, and harvests. As temperatures increase and the desertification of the Sahel expands, more African nations, (especially Nigeria with its huge and growing population) have begun to feel increased agricultural stresses; stresses manipulated by growing terrorist organizations.
According to the International Crises Group (ICG); “Africa is especially vulnerable to climate change, as millions are already experiencing record heat, extreme precipitation and rising sea levels. Increasingly, the security implications of changing weather patterns are visible in deadly land resource disputes between farmers and herders across the continent – including the continent’s most populous country, Nigeria.”
Global warming has not only increased the severity of droughts, but also contributed to extreme seasonal variability in water supply across the Sahel and neighbouring countries. These long-term climatic trends disrupt and harm traditional livelihoods like farming and herding, increasing economic uncertainty.
Like many countries in Africa, Nigeria is highly dependent on agriculture. Approximately two thirds of the labour force make a living through farming or herding. With very little irrigated land, both activities rely heavily on seasonal rainfall and related weather patterns, so the effects of climate change can be and are intense.
High population growth, the Boko Haram insurgency and cattle rustling have forced herders in the north to migrate toward the Middle Belt in central Nigeria in search of pasture and water. Their movement has inflamed competition over land resources already heightened by increasing climate change and led to more frequent disputes between herders and farmers.
Food insecurity is a matter of national security issue. It is at the root of much of the insecurity we have in Nigeria currently and any serious minded and informed leader must focus on that.
To curb the movement of cattle excercabated by the effects of climate change and thereby address the associated insecurity, the Buhari/APC led Federal Government of Nigeria’s National Livestock Transformation Plan (NTLP) which seeks to shift Nigeria’s livestock sector from free-roaming herding to systems that concentrate cattle in ranches and grazing reserves. The project is on with pilots in some participating Northern states.
The Green Energy Initiative is aimed at curbing climate change and its effects. It is a global Initiative and Nigeria is already signed up to it and commendably so. It is a job creator in itself (if you understand world trends) with new and emerging jobs and employment opportunities in alternate (green) energy (solar, wind etc), non fossil fuel powered vehicles etc.
In general, apart from saving the environment, the Green Energy Initiative is the new big deal in creating economic growth and development through jobs like in research and development, manufacturing and installation of green energy assets and equipment, agriculture, tourism, healthcare, real estate, banking and finance etc and the world (Nigeria inclusive) seeks to pivot away from fossil fuels.
The saying that a hungry man is an angry man is a simple explanation to the effect of global warming on water, consequently on agriculture which then build up an army of angry people.
Thank you all.
16th September, 2022