By Abdulmajid Abubakar
Climate change is affecting every inhabited region across the globe, with human influence contributing to many observed changes in weather and climate extremes. The climate crisis remains the single biggest long-term threat facing humanity. Yet, unfortunately, despite its seriousness, it continues to be taken with little or no regard by the government and other stakeholders.
On a faithful Thursday morning on my way to Dutse, the Jigawa State Capital from Gumel LGA, I came across an action that will exacerbate the climate crisis. The government destroyed a complete shelterbelt in the Medu local community of Gagarawa LGA in the name of development. The government has sold the plantation to a foreign investor, according to the populace. Thousands of trees were allocated to privileged people within the local government who chopped them off, and others sold the trees at N500 per head. Children were paid N150 to cut down a single tree (child labour), while the adult cutters got paid the sum of N500-N800 per tree.
- Is the government fully aware of the consequences of this grave decision?
- Why not another piece of land?
- Why a shelterbelt?
- Are the shelterbelts not there for a purpose?
- Were the trees planted for free?
- For how long were the trees standing?
Concerned individuals may regard this single action as a Climate Action Failure. The Global risks Perception survey conducted by World Economic Forum 2022 ranked Climate Action failure as the number one risk with potentially most severe impact over the next decade.
The infinite need to grow is built into a system, yet now we are starting to hit finite environmental limits. For any development that has to do with the environment, I think there should be an Environmental Impact Assessment and possibly a Cost-Benefit Analysis.
To my dismay, I learnt that the government carried out similar projects along Danzomo road, Sule Tankarkar LGA. Plots of lands belonging to the local community were bought and sold to a foreign investor who felt-down all the trees and later planted groundnut and sesame. According to the local people I interviewed, they believe that the crops harvested might be exported.
I believe that what is happening along the Gumel-Gujungu axis is a lack of political will, institutional weakness, and corruption.
According to my findings, there are three communities that the foreign investor’s project surrounds. Hence, community members might have to relocate to a new location. Unfortunately, this precedent is not uncommon as other communities within the axis had undergone the same faith to bid for foreign investors to establish businesses.
Nigeria is a large country with a substantial part of its area extending into the Sudano-Sahelian belt, which, together with the neighbouring northern Guinea savanna, constitutes the country’s drylands.
The rainfall regimes of the dryland of Nigeria are erratic, characterized by high concentration in a few months, sporadic and violence of storms. As a result, the region is prone to recurrent and sometimes intense and persistent periods of drought.
The situation of desert encroachment needs to be clearly understood by northern Nigerians. It is a problem that is seriously threatening livelihood. Even the visually impaired knows that Jigawa state happens to be among the frontline of this issue of desertification.
According to Part 1 Article 1 of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), desertification can be defined “as land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors including climatic variations and human activities”.
When man continues to cut down trees for selfish reasons, it is easier for the desert wind and sand to keep moving southward. Research has shown that 50%-75% of Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara States in Nigeria are being affected by desertification.
In 1984, Nigeria launched a tree-planting campaign to make people aware of the dangers of desertification and the need to curb it. It is exactly 38 years now, but what do we have to show for this?
THE EMPIRE BUILDERS OUGHT TO KNOW THAT:
- Deforestation severely impacts food security, water security, human health, disaster risk, social and economic development.
- Deforestation paves the way to desertification, which accounts for a high level of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, which aggravates Global warming and Climate Change.
- To meet the emissions reduction targets which are critical to prevent runaway climate change, we must make our money greener.
- Desertification is an urgent environmental problem that Northern Nigeria faces.
- It has been estimated that Nigeria loses nearly $5.1billion annually owing to the rapid encroachment of drought and desert in most parts of the north.
- Nigeria loses about 350,000 hectares of land every year to desert encroachment. This has led to demographic displacements in villages across 11 states in the north.
- An increase of at least an average of 1°C has accompanied the temperature in northern Nigeria bordering the Sahara when comparing the data of 1901 to 2010.
- Agriculture is the economic cornerstone of most households in Jigawa State, and it remains an important sector of Nigeria’s economy. Deforestation is making food security next to impossible.
The government should accept that the climate is changing, fertile lands are diminishing, famine and hunger are now the order of the day. Therefore, there is an urgent need to enact legislation and policies to protect the environment and provide us with a sustainable future.
The Nigerian government was among the countries that adopted the Glasgow Climate Pact in the just concluded United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland. It was aiming to turn the 2020s into a decade of Climate Action.
Consequently, countries were encouraged to increase their ambitions and work towards halving emissions by 2030 to keep the 1.5°C goal alive. WHERE ARE WE NOW?
Studies revealed that in December 2020, global warming reached 1.18 degrees above pre-industrial levels. And more than 1.5°C of warming would unlock the most catastrophic climate change scenarios. To keep 1.5 alive, climate promises must be kept alive. Our Government should know that Nature is the answer, as it is vital for carbon capture solutions. With this alone we must put nature at the heart of our response to climate change, from more trees to healthy wetlands and peatlands.
Ultimately, this is to notify Jigawa State Government and the federation at large that Climate change is no longer a story but a reality that is threatening humanity. This is the right time to take action; it is now or never because the climate is changing and affecting every sector. Dear colonial thinkers, please, you need to understand science and make our future your priority.
Abdulmajid Abubakar can be reached via: email@example.com.