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Casualties And Lessons From PH Collapsed Building

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Friday, November 23, 2018 is one date that will linger in the minds of Rivers people, particularly residents of Port Harcourt, as well as those living and doing business there for a long time. It may be described as the most tragic news of building collapse in the annals of the oil and gas-rich city.
Lately, just when the usual crowd that trooped daily to the site of the unfortunate incident such as families of trapped victims, sympathizers and passers-by have reduced as hopes of finding more bodies dimmed, the unexpected happened. Rescuers pulled out two more decomposing bodies from the rubbles, precisely on Friday, December 7, 2018.
This brings the number of deaths, so far, to 12 while more than 31 persons were rescued alive since that ill-fated incident which affected the mood of the state.
According to Monday Kalio, coordinator of the volunteer works at the site, who confirmed the recovery, the decomposing body of a middle-aged man was found about 3 am, last Friday and deposited at a mortuary in Port Harcourt.
Kalio said, “We have recovered 41 bodies. Ten are dead and 31 are alive,” even as he asked that more hand gloves and nose masks should be provided for the rescuers. But a day after Kalio spoke to newsmen, two more decomposing bodies were found same day, one in the wee hours of the morning, the other in the night.
Rescuers who have been having a hectic time searching for remains of victims complained that some of the equipment used for the rescue operation have gone bad, in addition to not having access to food and water which they said was hindering rescue efforts.
However, about nine heavy-duty equipment remain at the scene where rescue operations are still on-going with workers digging two large holes to the collapsed building in order to gain access into the underground area where some trapped workers are expected to be.
Two of the workers who did not want their names mentioned appealed to the state government and companies to provide more equipment to enhance the rescue operations.
Families of workers still trapped in the collapsed building remained hopeful as some of them who spoke to The Tide commended the rescue work done so far, saying the work attitude of the rescue workers have improved. Although 12 lifeless bodies have been removed from the rubbles, more persons may still be trapped inside the wreckage. But at this stage it might take more than a miracle or another world wonder to find more survivors as rescuers and volunteers are still undaunted in their task of clear, search and hopefully find….
Members of the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt Gateway have been on hand providing social services like food and water for rescue workers and volunteers, assuring that it would continue to give necessary aid to rescuers at the scene of the collapse building.
President-elect of Rotary Club of Port Harcourt Gateway, Arinze Akupue, while speaking to newsmen urged the rescuers to double their efforts in ensuring that more trapped workers, including one of its members, Rotarian Morgan Ekene Ihionu, are rescued.
Akupue said it was disheartening that some family members of those trapped in the rubble were yet to leave the scene several days after the 7-storey building caved in.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, said recently that initial investigations had shown that the building permit obtained by the owner of the structure in 2014 was for a 5-storey building, but that in September 2018, a permit for a 7-storey building was issued by a government official. Already, the state Commissioner for Urban Development and Physical Planning, Dr Reason Onya, had stepped aside to allow for unimpeded investigation into the cause(s) of the incident.
Despite digging two large holes, rescue workers have not been able to gain access to the underground parts of the collapsed building, though most of the rubbles have been cleared by the worker, even as the perimeter created at the scene have been reduced to allow business owners within the area to have access to their shops and stalls.
Chairman, Port Harcourt Division of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Mr. Yibotemeka Kalio, said rescuers have two more floors to crack in order to gain access to the underground parts of the failed building believed to be housing more trapped workers.
Kalio said, “The site has been divided into three. The first site we have cleared and we have done searches. On the second side they are cutting off the iron rods. What we have left here now are two floors. That is why they (workers) are cutting off the iron rods so that they can crack and we can go in and do our search and rescue.
Asked about the possibility of finding more victims alive, he retorted, “Honestly and sincerely we are still hopeful. The possibility is still there that we may see some living cases to rescue and then possibly some other cases to recover.”
But who are the casualties of this hapless incident. Like prominent Nigerian author, John Pepper Clark, wrote in one of his celebrated poems ‘The Casualties’ were he made reference to the many casualties (victims, if you like) of the Nigerian Civil war. Indeed the casualties are not only those who died. Neither is it only families of diseased persons nor their loved ones. Though the circumstances seems dissimilar, but war, like accident, the latter been the case of that Port Harcourt collapsed building, usually results in ‘weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth’ if the scale of a 7-storey building collapse with many workers on site is anything to go by.
Some of the lines of that classic poem in no particular order read thus: ‘The casualties are not only those who are dead. ‘They are well out of it. ‘Though they await burial by installment.
‘The casualties are not only those who have lost  Persons or property, hard as it is  To grope for a touch that some
May not know is not there.
‘The casualties are many, and a good member as well
Outside the scenes of ravage and wreck.
We are all casualties!”
Indeed, the casualties are many! For nothing else, the serenity of Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s Garden City was shattered by news of the collapsed building under construction with many workers trapped in it. People made distress and frantic calls depending on which side of the divide. One needed to have seen how many a resident of the metropolis trooped there from far and near to ascertain if what they heard was true. Indeed, the casualties are many.
Without a doubt, Dr. Onya should be commended for rising to the occasion by stepping down to ensure an unimpeded investigation into the incident. Like the rest of us, he too is a casualty.
Governor Wike himself is a casualty, having cut short his trip abroad in response to a call of duty in his immediate vicinity as the chief security officer of the state, not minding that he has able hands such as his deputy, Dr Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, who in the governor’s absence led relevant members of the state executive council daily to the scene with strong assurances that the state government would institute a probe into the cause of the tragedy.
The state Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. John Basia, his Environment counterpart, Dr Roselyn Konya, as well as the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, temporarily relocated to the site of the collapsed building as they were seen there daily attending and responding to issues.
It was gathered that when the governor returned from his trip, he immediately dashed to the scene of the incident with his wife, Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike, where upon he commiserated with the families of those who lost their loved ones, who, according to him, had gone there to work in order to provide for their families.
Wike described the building collapse as a sad development, saying, “I feel so pained that we have to face this kind of calamity at this time. I commiserate with the families that have lost their loved ones who came to seek their daily bread. Government will do all it can to give them the necessary support.
“I have directed the Attorney-General of Rivers State to ensure that all legal steps are taken to do what is right within the ambit of the law,” the governor stated, even as he ordered the immediate arrest of the owner of the collapsed building, saying that the State Government will bring all culprits to book.
“Whoever is involved, from the owner or the contractor to the officials of the state, they will face the full weight of the law.  Government will take steps to acquire this property. We cannot allow this illegality. If you look at the master plan of this area, a 7-storey building is not allowed here,” he said, and commended the construction giants, security agencies and non-governmental organizations for working with the Rivers State Government in carrying out rescue operations at the site of the incident.
Some 24 hours after the governor’s arrest order, spokesman of the State Police Command, Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed the arrest of the owner of the structure, adding that any official of the state government found to have been involved in the incident, one way or the other, would be invited for interrogation and possible arrest.
In the same vein, leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Martins Amaehule, who led other lawmakers to the site of the incident, stated that the state legislature will resume plenary immediately to look into the matter and enact laws that will monitor construction of buildings in the state.
“Investigations need to be carried out and I can assure you that the Rivers State House of Assembly will reconvene to carry out proper investigation to ascertain what happened here. Be assured that in the coming days we will sit and review the situation,” the House leader said.
Already, the governor on Tuesday, December 4, made good his promise of instituting a commission of inquiry led by Justice Adolphus Enebeli to investigate the collapsed 7-storey building during a brief ceremony in Government House, Port Harcourt, with a charge to identify the owner of the building and the holder of the certificate of occupancy, according to a statement issued by the Special Assistant to the Governor on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu.
To be cont’d.

The governor’s charge reads, “To ascertain/identify the owner, developer and/or holder of the certificate of occupancy over and in respect of all that piece or parcel of land situate and lying at 119 Woji Road, (Plot 80), GRA Phase 2, Port Harcourt.
“Ascertain whether the construction of the 7—storey building on the said 119 Woji Road is covered by any valid or approved building plan and/or whether requisite approvals were issued by the appropriate ministry or agency of the Rivers State Government prior to the commencement of construction “.
The governor also charged the Commission of Inquiry to ascertain whether the architectural, engineering and structural designs of the said building were undertaken by competent and licensed experts in relevant fields.
He further charged the commission to ascertain whether appropriate/necessary tests, including soil tests, were carried out to ascertain the suitability of the site for construction of a building of that size.
Responding, Justice Adolphus Enebeli assured the governor that the commission will execute its assignment with the needed timeliness and in line with the law; adding that they will not disappoint the Government and people of Rivers State because the assignment touches the essence of humanity.
Meanwhile, stakeholders in the built industry all supported the governor’s decision to probe the incident, even as they have gone a step further to give expert advice to forestall future occurrences; in addition to commending the state government for its quick response to the incident which according to them saved many lives.
One of such is the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) in a nine-point statement jointly signed by Tete Inameti and Emmanuel Ikechukwu, chairman and secretary of the body in Rivers State respectively and obtained by The Tide, as they called for regular audit of building structures in the state to authenticate their integrity.
While noting that though building approval agencies have always been the immediate targets of blame, the NITP said it that the public should realise that approval of building plan is a joint responsibility of all the relevant professionals in the built environment. You see, they too, like other relevant professionals bodies, are casualties.
The statement reads, “We (NITP) have been inundated with distress calls as a result of the collapse of a 7-storey building under construction along Woji Road in GRA, phase 2, Port Harcourt.
“While appreciating the calls from the public and the print and electronic media, the institute commiserates with the Governor of Rivers State, the people of the state and the families of victims of the collapse building.”
The institute noted that the tragic incident is a wake-up call to all professionals in the built environment to demonstrate the requisite professional standards and commitment to put a stop to quackery in the state, even as it called for strict penalties for those responsible for the sad incident no matter how highly placed to deter future occurrences.
The statement reads, “That town planners should be adequately staffed and equipped with professionals in the construction industry for effective routine supervision and monitoring of project sites during and after construction.
“Government should implement the Rivers State Physical Planning and Development Law No 6 of 2003 by establishing Local Planning Authorities in all 23 local government areas of the state, as well as a physical planning board at the state levels of plan approval so as to reduce the workload on the Ministry of Urban Development.
“Construction work should only be carried out by registered contractors and supervised by registered architects, engineers and builders rather than engaging unskilled contractors, while clients should obtain approvals before they begin construction and should not develop at variance with the approved plan,” the state NITP said.
On their part, the Nigerian Institute of Builders called on the State Government to set up a building control agency that will oversee building constructions in the state.
Rivers State Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Builders, Akinola Bammeke in his reaction to the November 23, 2018 tragedy further said, “What has happened is very unfortunate. One of the ways to check this kind of incidents is for the state government to set up a building control agency that will monitor building projects all through the various stages of construction,”
Bammeke also said the State House of Assembly needs to review ‘existing’ obsolete building laws to ensure that only professionals engage in construction of houses in state to avert such incidents.
In the same vein, the Nigerian Institution of Architects (NIA) led by the Rivers State Chairman, Egbuonu Asomba said only a proper probe can unravel the circumstance behind the incident.
Asomba said, “When a building collapses there are so many possible reasons for building collapse. You have to start looking at whether a proper soil test was conducted from the outset.
“Then you should also ensure that the proper design by professionals are involved at the design process. From the design of the building up to sending it for approval.
“I expect a lot more diligence, a lot more participation by every section of the brick environment. The professional architect, the professional structural engineer and every other professional must be involved to ensure that the right thing is done,” the State NIA boss said.

While the various steps taken by the state government so far in getting to the root of the matter are noble, the myriad of professional advise given by stakeholders in the built industry are very important lessons and instructions to the relevant authorities. For now, everyone should hold their horses and heave a sigh of relief, while awaiting the findings/report of the Justice led panel of inquiry; for we are all casualties of Friday, November 23, 2018, one way or the other.
By: Dennis Naku

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Returning Nigeria’s Textile Sector To Good Old Days?

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In the 1970s and early 1980s, Nigeria was home to Africa’s largest textile industry, with over 180 textile mills.
The Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) sub-sector, employed close to 450,000 people that translated to more than 25 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector.
But today, only 25 textile factories are operating, and they function at below 20 per cent installed capacity and engaged less than 20,000 people.
The fortunes of CTG sub-sector started dwindling in the 1990s, as a result of  some challenges faced by cotton farmers, ginneries and textile firms.
Farmers and processors were confronted with low quality seeds, high  cost of production, poor access to finance and smuggling of textile materials into the country.
Statistics recently released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), showed that textiles worth four billion dollars were smuggled into the country annually.
But there is renewed vigour by the present administration, to revive the CTG through CBN’s intervention.
In order to boost the CTG sector, the Federal Government had given directive to some agencies and uniformed organisations to patronise local textile industries.
The present administration through the CBN is targeting engaging 300,000 farmers to achieve 450,000 metric tonnes of cotton in 26 states in the next three years.
The bank is to achieve this through its Anchor Borrowers Programme, which had already commenced with the cultivation of 200,000 hectares of hybrid cotton seeds to be distributed to 200,000 farmers in 26 states.
Part of the strategy is also to import 6,000 metric tonnes of improved cotton seeds, while additional 2,000 metric tonnes of cotton seeds had been sourced locally.
The data released by the bank indicates that “total expected yield at the end of the current season is 302,440 metric tonnes. The distribution of inputs to cotton farmers was launched in Katsina on May 6.
Twenty ginneries in seven states- Borno, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger and Zamfara were selected to participate in the CBN’s financed cotton project.
According to CBN, ginners are to sell their lint to textile factories with the ultimate objective of producing textiles to meet the needs of the members of the uniformed services.
The CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the funds to operationalise the ginneries, had been approved and to be disbursed through the Bank of Industry.
Emefiele said about N19.18 billion had been approved by the bank to fund nine ginneries across the country.
The approval is to enable them retool their processing plants, while they are to access the funds at single digit interest rate.
President Muhammadu Buhari, on his part, lamented the closure of textile factories especially in the North, and assured that his administration would revive the sector.
“We promoted policies that will support local industries such as import restrictions.
“We introduced programmes that provided affordable and accessible capital for both large and cottage industries.
“We also introduced Executive Orders that encouraged the procurement of Made in Nigeria goods and services.”
According to him, his administration will not allow Nigeria to return to the days of exporting jobs through the importation of food and clothing items,  which can be produced locally.
He said: “We will not allow Nigeria to return to the days of exporting jobs through the importation of food and clothing items which can be produced locally. We owe this to the over 200 million Nigerians.”
According to the President, the textile and garment sector has the potential to create millions of jobs, and will therefore, remain one of the priority sectors for the administration.
Referring to his recent directive to all government uniformed institutions to use locally produced garments, President Buhari said unbelievable number of jobs will be created when the military, police, para-military organisations, including the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), fully patronise local industries.
He, therefore, urged state governments to key into this policy for their schools, hospitals and other institutions.
In the same vein, Mr Isa Aremu,
the General Secretary, National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), lamented the closure of hundreds of textile factories, which used to employ “millions of workers, more than the workforce of the Federal Government in the 70s and 80s.”
He, however, commended the textile-friendly policies of the Buhari-led administration, such as the interventions by the CBN and the Executive Order on the use of local garments by uniformed organisations, among others.
Aremu stressed the need to tackle the high incidence of smuggling of textiles, in order to protect the sector as well as boost job creation.
The activist said the recent signing of MoU between the CBN and some major stakeholders was a gradual effort of lifting the sector from the state of hopelessness to hope.
Aremu noted that the effort made by the CBN was commendable and would be supported by his union, and appealed to other relevant groups and indeed all Nigerians to do the same.
Alhaji Salman Abdullahi, the President,  Cotton Ginners Association of Nigeria, commended the CBN for its commitment to  revive CTG sub-sector.
Abdullahi said when the stakeholders’ meeting was convened sometimes to work out ways to revive the sector, he thought it would be like similar gatherings in the past, that did not yield any positive result.
He pledged that members of his association would live up to expectation, by ensuring quality production.
Dr Arome Salifu, an economist, said the step taken by Federal Government was a welcome development.
According to him, for any economy to thrive, a critical component like manufacturing sector must be given priority.
“The CTG is a critical component in manufacturing sector, therefore, the apex bank has taken the right step in the right direction by choosing this component to support.’’
Salifu said that this kind of investment was needed at this time because of its jobs creation potential.
He called for involvement of critical stakeholders, like civil society organisations, in the monitoring and evaluation of the project to ensure judicious use of funds.
Sumaila writes for News Agency of Nigeria.

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Nigerian Navy And Quest For Proficiency

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“The battlefield is an unforgiving classroom. It is a theater where success and survival in real combat is dependent on hard work during exercise of all nature.”

The above saying is by Rear Adm. Oladele Daji, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) at the opening of ” Small Arms Firing Exercise (SAFEX)”, organised by the Western Naval Command, Lagos in October 2019.
The quest for proficiency has in recent times seen the Nigerian Navy engaging in trainings and even bilateral relationships with the Navies of other countries.
Constitutionally, the Nigerian Navy personnel are used to handling big weaponry mounted on warships, but due to the numerous security challenges, there has been an increase in their involvement in internal operations.
The Navy has big guns onboard warships like the 127MM and the 40MN but to tackle internal security issues, arms like FN Rifle, AK47 and Shooter `n’ Gear (SnG) are needed.
Due to their increased involvement in internal security, the Navy has continued to train and retrain its personnel through SAFEX to enhance their proficiency as well as enhance operational efficiency.
To become proficient in small arms handling, the Western Naval Command, from Oct. 17 to Oct. 19, organised SAFEX for its personnel at Owode, Nigeria’s border community with the Republic of Benin.
No fewer than 400 officers participated in the exercise which entailed shooting weapons such as FN Riffle, AK47 and SnG from 100m and 200m radius respectively.
However, speaking at the opening ceremony, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command, said the exercise had given them opportunity of identifying marksmanship for inter-command and inter-service competitions.
“I enjoin everyone to take advantage of this unique opportunity to enhance their weapon handling proficiency and knowledge.
“I implore you all to remember the marksmanship principle as you approach the firing point, this will help in ensuring that you hit the bull,” he said.
He also thanked the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) for making the exercise a reality.
“This exercise would not have been possible without the timely approval of the Chief of Naval Staff to our arms and logistics request. So, I enjoin everyone to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
“Training all over the world is conducted to correct weaknesses and sustain strength. In achieving this objectives, training exercise will always be tough and physically challenging.
“This exercise therefore, will not be an exception considering the process you must have passed through right from the point of selection. I enjoin you all to apply yourselves during the exercise,” he said.
Major.-Gen. Olu Irefin, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division Nigerian Army, Bonny Camp, Lagos, at the opening said that there was no gainsaying the complexities and fluid nature of contemporary security challenges.
He said that it was imperative for security agencies to not only to synergise their efforts towards attaining national security objectives but also to sharpen their skills in weapons handling.
“It is against this backdrop that the Nigerian Navy and by extension the Western Naval Command deemed it fit to hold the exercise,” he said.
At the end of the exercise, the FOC, represented by the Chief Staff Officer, Western Naval Command, Rear Adm. Muritala Bashir, implored personnel not to forget what they had learnt.
“I’ll like to urge us that whatever we have learnt from this exercise, please, let it register in our memories because these are the skills you will need to apply when the need arises.
“Apart from the skills that must have been sharpened, we should be able to go a step further at our individual time to see how we can strip and assemble these weapons.
“Because during operation, these weapons could disappoint. And it is not enough for you to drop the weapon and stop firing as a personnel, find out what the problem is, strip the weapon and assemble and continue,” he said.
On foreign relationships, the Nigerian Navy received six ships from other countries this year, exploring diplomatic ties for excellence with their foreign counterparts.
The ships include: the U.S. Naval Ship CARSON CITY, the French Navy Ship BOUAN, the Indian Navy Ship TARKASH and the Spanish CENTINELA and SERVIOLA.
The most recent one is the visit of Spanish Ship, ATALAYA, which berthed on the shores of Nigeria on Oct. 2 and departed on Oct. 5, for the strengthening of diplomatic ties between the Nigerian Navy and the Spanish Navy.
The Spanish Consular General, Mr Juan Anthony and the Commanding Officer of Spanish Naval Ship, Lt.-Commander Calvar, paid a visit to the Western Naval Command.
They were received by the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command, Rear Adm. Oladele Daji, for an exchange programme in training and also to boost bilateral relationships between both Navies.
These visits were aimed at strengthening bilateral ties between the countries to reinforce manpower capacity development through training and re-training of officers and men of the Navy.
While in Nigeria, series of training through naval exercises were conducted in line with the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Ibok-Ette Ibas’ mission.
The mission is to deploy a naval force that is well trained, organised and highly motivated to discharge its constitutional roles professionally and efficiently for the defence of Nigeria in ensuring her economic prosperity.
While leaving on Oct. 5, the Nigerian Navy, as part of its culture, performed passage exercise for the Spanish Navy ship with series of exercises.
The Nigerian Navy ship (NNS) EKULU, NNS NGURU and some NNSSBS boats as well as Nigerian Navy helicopters sailed with the ship on Passage Exercise for some nautical miles off Lagos Farwell Buoy.
Both Navies carried out several naval drills, including Opposed Vessel, Search Boarding, Seizure (VBSS), Fleet Manoeuvers, Communications and Helicopters operations.
The combined exercise saw Nigerian Navy personnel board the Spanish Naval Ship ATALAYA with their Spanish counterparts doing the same.
It will be recalled that few months ago, Spanish Naval Ships CENTINELA and SERVIOLA visited Nigeria and conducted similar exercises.
Oremule writes for the News Agency of Nigeria.

 

By: Modupe Oremule

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Mitigating Climate Change Effects Via Legislation

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Undoubtedly climate change is one of the biggest threats facing humanity today. Environmental experts also say that Nigeria is vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of the country’s low response capability.
They cautioned that climate change and global warming, if left unchecked, would cause more adverse effects on livelihoods of most Nigerians who are already living in abject poverty.
According to an environmentalist, Oyeniyan Olagunju, Nigeria is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and must, therefore, as a matter of urgency take steps to reduce vulnerability, build resilience and adaptive capacity.
Olagunju said that while climate change constitutes environmental threat of the 21st Century, the current experience, alongside its adversity, has left Nigeria with no better option than to seek immediate measures to adapt and mitigate impacts.
According to him, climate change has negatively affected Nigerian economy, with various observable impacts, ranging from significant reduction in agricultural productivity to increase the morbidity and mortality rates.
“The energy sector is not left out, because climate change has impacted the hydropower plants which are sources of electricity for the country.
“Others like the transportation, tourism and manufacturing sectors are affected which in turn pose threat to the overall economy,’’ Olagunju said.
He said that a study conducted by the Department for International Development (DFID), confirmed that climate change would cost Nigeria between six and 30 per cent of its GDP by 2050, with estimated loss of between 100 billion dollars and 460 billion dollars.
“Currently, the erosion of low-lying coastal and non-coastal regions of Nigeria results in persistent buildings collapse, with attendant loss of lives.
“Of important concern also are the drying lakes in Nigeria, especially the Lake Chad, which is at the junction of Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger, as a valid reference point,’’ Olagunju said.
A recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Analysis and Management revealed that by 2020, Nigeria stands to lose 11 per cent of its GDP to climate change in absence of an aggressive climate policy to sustain the social and economic development in the country.
Rep. Sam Onuigbo, the lawmaker representing Ikwuano /Umuahia North/Umuahia South Federal Constituency of Abia State, in the House of Representatives, said that there was need to domesticate global instruments, in order to combat the effects climate change in Nigeria.
Onuigbo expressed worry over the absence of a legal framework on climate change, which he identified as critical for the conservation of nature and protection of the country’s natural resources and environment.
He also expressed dismay that the Climate Change Bill, which he sponsored while he was the Chairman, House Committee on Climate Change, during the 8th National Assembly, did not receive presidential assent after its passage.
“I have not given up on the Climate Change Bill because I have been able to rework it and represent it, and I am happy that the bill has gone through first reading in the House of Representatives,’’ the legislator said.
He expressed optimism that the reintroduced bill would receive presidential assent with a view to aid in mitigating the effects of climate change in the country.
“With the awareness that we all have shown in matters concerning climate change, ecology, and how we can work towards sustainable development, I am optimistic that this time there will be good advisers around Mr President.
“It is important to tell him why it is absolutely important to sign the bill,’’ Onuigbo said.
He emphasised that the bill still focuses on mainstreaming government actions and responses into policy formulation and implementation and the need to establish the national council on climate change.
The lawmaker said that besides proposing for a council, the bill also proposes an agency to drive efforts to checkmate the devastating effects of climate change in the country.
Onuigbo, who is also the Vice-President of Globe International (Africa), promised to work with other legislators to initiate policies and bills that would ensure reduction of ecosystem degradation and Green House Gas emissions.
Globe, is legislators’ organisation that supports parliamentarians to develop legislative response to the challenges posed by development.
Onuigbo, however, pledged to use his position to draw international and national attention to the strengthening of Globe in Nigeria, in order to provide added urgency to the country’s drive to protect the environment.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had made a commitment to the cause by signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on September 22, 2016, “and committing severally in many international discussions that Nigeria must address climate change issues.
“It is hoped that by the end of my tenure, natural capital governance would have been worked into government policies and financial permutations and projections.
“It is also hoped that more attention will be paid to renewable energy sources,’’ Onuigbo said.
He called for increased awareness to sensitise people to understand the need to do away with activities that impact negatively on the environment.
While pointing out the need to do away with non-degradable materials, Onuigbo canvassed for the adoption of improved agricultural systems for both crops and livestock.
A lecturer in the Department of Demography and Social Statistics, Federal University, Birnin Kebbi,Mr Abbani Yakubu, stressed the need for government and relevant stakeholders to extensively fund researches in climate change.
According to him, it is very necessary because climate change affects all.
“It impacts on our daily lives and affects food security, which the government is trying to achieve in the country.
“Research is very integral to solving climate change problems.
“We need to understand the extent to which it is affecting human lives.
“Efficient database management system on climate change occurrence and related events should be developed, in order to ensure effective and timely response to climate change incidents in Nigeria,’’ Yakubu said.
It would be recalled that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said that the world must cut its carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 in order to prevent global warming of 1.5°C, or likely more, above pre-industrial levels.
In its 2019 seasonal rainfall prediction, the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet), said that it would be another hot year.
The mean annual variability and trend of rainfall over Nigeria in the last six decades, depicts several inter-annual fluctuations that have been responsible for dry and wet years or extreme climate events, such as droughts and floods in many parts of the country.
NiMet also predicted that, as a result of these climatic conditions, incidences of malaria and other diseases will be higher in areas with temperatures ranging between 18 °C to 32 °C and with humidity above 60 per cent.
“More worrisome is the increasing knowledge that the country will be subject to consistent changes in rainfall and temperatures in the not-so-distant future.
“Hotter and drier conditions would likely exacerbate droughts and heat waves and hamper agricultural production, particularly rain-fed agriculture, which many Nigerians rely on for their livelihoods,’’ a farmer, Mr Ndifereke Akpan, said.
While identifying that agriculture accounts for around 23 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, Akpan said that progress could be hampered if the trend was not checked.
“Unless we take action, these trends are likely to jeopardize hard-won progress.
“Already, climate-induced conflicts are exacerbating fragile security situations, with flashpoints mainly in the middle belt of the country.
“Climate change, therefore, poses a significant threat to Nigeria’s development ambition of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and could stunt and even reverse the progress that has already been made,’’ Akpan said.
With enforceable legislation in place, Nigeria will effectively mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and global warming.
Uwadileke writes for the News Agency of Nigeria.

 

Ikenna Uwadileke

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