Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, says the country has made a strong statement to the world by the signing of the climate change bill into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking at a weekly ministerial briefing Thursday, Mrs Ikeazor said with the step taken immediately after Cop26, Nigeria has shown its commitment towards the Paris agreement on climate change.
According to the minister, the next step now is for the environment ministry to implement the commitments and strategies as well as the national plans aimed at achieving the desired goal.
The minister also encouraged Nigerians to play their expected roles towards providing a sustainable environment.
About the law
Penultimate week, Mr Buhari signed the Climate Change Bill into law, making Nigeria the first major developing country to commit to set annual carbon budgets to plot its path to cutting emissions to net zero.
The climate change law provides for, among other things, the mainstreaming of climate change actions and the establishment of a National Council on Climate Change.
According to the law, the council will be headed by the President and include relevant ministers, national security adviser and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Civil societies will also be represented, with spaces reserved for women, youth, persons with disabilities and the private sector.
Experts said the Council will go a long way in assisting the environment ministry in the goal of setting a national platform for the mobilisation and disbursement of trillions of climate investments needed to scale up and accelerate the green transition efforts in Nigeria in the coming months and years.
The law also paves the way for environmental and economic accounting and a push for a net zero emission deadline plan in the country.
The law was signed a few weeks after President Buhari made a commitment during the world leaders summit at the just concluded United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, in Glasgow, UK where he said Nigeria will cut its carbon emission to net-zero by 2060.
Speaking further on the law, Ms Ikeazor said: “For an environment that we can be in harmony with, each and every one of us has to be a part of that sustainable environment that we all dream about. We must implement and accelerate the Great Green Wall project which is basically to review and reverse desertification and land degradation in the Northern part of Nigeria,” she said.
On Ogoni cleanup
The Minister assured that the Ogoni clean up would be completed, as she also appealed to those polluting the environment through artisanal refining to stop.
“We must accelerate also, the Ogoni cleanup, to make sure that the remediation is completed in time for the good people of Ogoni but at the same time, we must tackle the issue of artisanal refining because as we are cleaning, some are still polluting the environment and we ask that this must stop, for us to have a clean and decent environment,” she added.
She said the ministry is already adopting various strategies to help address environmental challenges confronting the country.
“We have come up with strategies for addressing these challenges. These are strategies that we have developed. So in the quest for a green recovery, the ministry recognises the need to establish the necessary strategy, policy and financial mechanisms that will enable Nigeria have in place all the appropriate environmental governance structure that we need and at the same time reduce carbon emission and pollution, enhance our energy resources efficiently and also prevent the loss of biodiversity in the ecosystem,” she said.
On the achievements recorded by the ministry, she said a lot has been done in the area of flood and erosion control.
“For us in the ministry of environment, our major achievements have been in the area of flood and erosion control, we have a World Bank Assisted programme.
“We have recorded a lot of successes on this and we have been able to install 27 flood early warning systems and we have restored hundreds of erosion sites because the issue of flood has been coming up especially in the Southern part of Nigeria.
“We also have our Great Green Wall initiative in the North. This initiative has been helping our rural people to manage their land sustainably and also improve on land degradation,” she said.
Ms Ikeazor said the Nigerian government is working on improving the livelihoods of youths of the Niger-Delta region, in order to move them away from restiveness.
“Government is working on creating alternative livelihood for them so we can move them away from illegal refining and further polluting the environment. For now, we have been able to train about 400 women in agri-business and entrepreneurial skills and also we have got them to form themselves into 20 cooperatives, through which they can be gainfully employed into project sites. We have created about 735 direct jobs and as the cleanup project continues at the complex sites, we will be able to employ a lot more of the youths,” the minister explained.