Amidst the many Facebook funny pictures and comments that got tossed around on the internet after several days of rainfall in the Lagos metropolis; lies the potential danger of submersion of a City termed the â€˜Commercial Nerve Centre of Nigeria'. In monetary terms, billions of naira will be lost alongside thousands of lives, whilst millions will be internally displaced. The bad news however does not only stop there as every City in Nigeria's 800km long coastline is in danger of flooding disasters over the next few years.
A study of the â€˜Geonomics' (fusion of Geography and Economics) of Nigeria, presents a dire situation that the Government have treated with kid gloves over-time. The Geography of Nigeria's 800km long coastline houses the economic mainstay of Nigeria for supposedly; a tiny fraction of the political elites of over 150 Million population within the Gulf of Guinea and Sahel Savannah.
The coastline is divided into east and west by the delta of River Niger which is about 150km wide and stretches inland to about 50 km while several streams fledges on the sides as tributaries, draining southward into the Atlantic Ocean. Around this area is where Oil Production is at its peak and while care had been taken over time by the Nigerian Government and its International Oil Company allies to protect Oil Installations from human induced destructive influence; little has been done to protect or improve the â€˜geography of the area'.
Simply put, Nigeria cannot continue to overlook the geography of Niger-Delta and its whole coastline, if indeed still want the economics of the region to be useful. Oil production both onshore and offshore stares straight at the barrel of the menacing â€˜trigger happy' Climate Change and now is about time to put to practice the many mitigating measures we have on paper.
The worst of all these is that Nigeria is struggling as a Nation to grapple with the realities of its Socio-economic existence along several inequalities and ethno-religious balance. Putting a Climate induced crisis in the whole equation would lead to complexities that even the best eggheads will struggle to resolve.
Countless definitions of the Earth's Climate System and its dangers have been presented to all a sundry by many International Organs and individuals. Of importance is the one by the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) in 2007; who defined the Earth Climate System "as a complex, interactive system consisting of the atmosphere, land surface snow and ice, oceans and other bodies of water, and living things". "What is characterised as the â€˜Climate' is further explained to be the atmospheric component of the climate system".
Climate change in IPCC usage refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. Now what are the drivers of Climate Change? The drivers are compounds such as GHG's, CO2 gases and Fluoro-Chloro Carbons in the atmosphere of which are largely caused by human activities. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) accordingly, postulated an average temperature of the earth's surface to be 0.74 degrees Celsius since the late 1800s. For every increment of the Earth's temperature experienced, a phenomenon called Global Warming occurs. That on its own is said to be the "increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation (Wikipedia 2009).
The implications of all these in a nutshell are explained in the many extremes of weather phenomena being experienced World over and which is being exemplified by the Lagos Flood caused by incessant rainfall over the last few days. Droughts, Desertification, Sea-level rise, drying up of major rivers, heat waves and iceberg melting; that causes increase of global water bodies. Ultimately, all these will have effect Agriculture and food production as well as displacement caused by migration of which could cause conflicts induced by resource struggle. Nigeria am afraid is not ready to combat these menace bar rhetoric.
There is an urgent need for action and this should go beyond Government Officials going to International Summits to read well drafted â€˜good for nothing' documents. This is so because long after the Boyloafs, Tompolos and Henry Okahs are gone, the Climate extremes present clearly to Nigeria a dangerous, non-negotiable situation.
Firstly, Nigeria needs to domesticate the Kyoto Protocol of which it signed in 2005. Since the ratification has taken place two years ago, there is nothing stopping us from domesticating the accord, into a full National practice.
Secondly, there should be more to creating a National Climate Change Commission as a Parastatal of the Ministry of Environment. A separate ministry is required here. The independence of this ministry would help keep and maintain focus in and around sustainability, present set and direct objectives as well as limit monitoring and evaluation hassles. Beg et al (2002) identified that successfully limiting global climate change to "safe" levels in the long-term is likely to require connecting climate change policies to sustainable development strategies in both developing and industrialised countries. The said Ministry requires its dependence because its parent Ministry of Environment have failed at improving and creating awareness for the dangers of Climate Change, mitigation and adaptation measures and other related socio-economic issues.
Thirdly, there should be a Policy from all Stakeholders, Government and its agencies to oversee what I call a â€˜Stick and Carrot' measure to curb and eradicate blocking of drainage channels and building on flood plains. There should be a proper education in all dialects of the communities to educate people of the dangers and implications of blocking drainage channels. Fourthly, we should seek to improve our Climate Observatory Data Collection. .
The importance of data for climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy has been stressed by key Agencies and researchers far and wide. Corbera et al (2006), spoke of the fact that there is still a lack of individual/institutional capacity in African countries to conduct climate change research. Most of the Climate observation technology in Nigeria is designed and only useful in measuring the climatic condition for agricultural purposes while information for recent climate change projections. Improvement and providing access to historical climate data is useful as reminder and reference point Fifthly, Nigeria do not have a working Multi-Agency Party Partnership.
National Meteorological Service, NEMA, NHCDR, Federal Ministry of Environment, BNRCC, NEST etc. have all shown poor coordination and co-operation regarding usage of environmental data to be proactive in terms of the prevention and management of environmental induced disasters. There should be a co-ordinating point and a dissemination focus from all these Agencies.