The image of a portion of the Federal Capital Territory submerged after hours of rain on Friday, May 23, 2023, shocked Nigerians even though the relevant authorities had issued flood alerts ahead of the rainy season.
Nigerians were starkly reminded by images and videos of Trademore Estate in Abuja’s Lugbe axis being completely inundated by flood waters that the worst may still happen as the country heads into the rainy months, when heavier downpours are anticipated nationwide.
Authorities of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), and Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) confirmed last week that they had sent personnel to the states to warn and prepare them for disasters that may occur.
However, the declaration provided little to no solace to Nigerians, who are still reeling from last year’s experience of the worst flood disasters in ten years, which submerged 27 states.
About 500 Nigerians were killed in the flood, which was caused by heavy rains and water from a dam in Cameroon. Additionally, farmland and road infrastructure were destroyed, and 1.4 million people were forced to flee their homes.
The weekend flood in Abuja, which damaged 116 homes, has reignited discussions about the occurrence of extreme weather and the readiness of the government to address the existential threat posed by climate change.
The government is unprepared for the effects of climate change, according to three environmental activists and authorities who spoke with DAILY POST.
Environmental activist, Washington Uba repeatedly underscored the need for the world, and Nigeria in particular, to accept that climate change is a reality, and act proactively.
He emphasised that no one should be in denial of climate change at this point in light of the flood catastrophe of 2022 and the recent nightmare of some Abuja residents.
“The devastation is right before us now. Climate change denial is undermining efforts to act on or adapt to climate change and exerts a powerful influence on the politics of global warming and the manufactured global warming controversy,” Uba said, comparing those who deny the effects of climate change to ostriches.
He emphasised the fact that human activity is what is causing climate change and that society needs to take immediate action to stop the looming devastating effects.
“Severe weather and rising sea levels are having an impact on people and their property in both developed and developing countries, so we must take action now.
“Climate change affects everyone, from a small farmer in the Philippines to a businessman in London, but it especially affects the poor and vulnerable, as well as marginalised groups like women, children, and the elderly,” Uba said.
If nothing more than rhetorical action is taken to address climate change, he warned Nigerians of the possibility of worst-case scenarios.
“If left unchecked, climate change will undo a lot of the progress made over the past few years in development.
“It can also exacerbate, as we are already seeing, current threats such as food and water scarcity, which can lead to conflict. Doing nothing will end up costing us a lot more than if we take action,” he reflected.
Urging the government to take practical steps towards “reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building climate resilience,” he added: “By acting now, we save lives and money and avoid setbacks in the progress we have achieved to date.”
Professor Emmanuel Oladipupo, the chairman of the advisory panel of the Resource and Environmental Policy Research Centre/Environment for Development (REPRC-EFD), raised doubts about the awareness, political will, and readiness of the government at every level to tackle climate change issues.
He told DAILY POST: “It is sad the way some of these communities suffer the brunt of climate change and ocean surge.
“This is because the increase in temperature is affecting the coastlines, which has resulted in an increase in the water in the sea. Plus, the warming that is taking place in the sea has made the surges much stronger.
“Nigeria could have tapped into these surges to generate power, but we don’t have that technology. And it is very sad that our political leaders don’t seem interested in the issues of climate change.”
He said further: “During election campaigns, none of them said a single word about climate change or environmental protection. That is where you have the problem.”
This position was also corroborated by Philip Jakpor, Director of Programmes, Corporate Accountability, and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), an organisation focused on stopping transnational corporations from destroying the planet, devastating democracy, and trampling human rights.
He also noted: “During the campaigns, we heard so much about the aspirants making promises to build roads and other infrastructure, but we didn’t hear them say anything about the environment.”
Nigeria, in his opinion, is not yet ready to effectively address the climate change challenge.
“Environmental consciousness is growing, but a lot still needs to be done so that we also come to the time when we have like Green Parties in Nigeria who have conscious plans to address the environmental crisis in different parts of the country,” he stated.
However, he believed the Nigerian government and people could get off to a good start right away by acknowledging that climate change is a reality that needs to be addressed and not a hoax.
In his opinion, it is not acceptable to continue to be ignorant of the effects of climate change.
He articulated: “It has been scientifically proven, and a lot of research has shown that the ice in the polar region is melting. This cannot be doubted. Even when we go scriptural, it is in the Bible that when man sins, God punishes him with nature.
“We are seeing the reflection of the crime we have committed in the environment. Now, we have unusually heavy rain. The polar region is melting. There is desertification in several parts of the world, and in a lot of communities you go to, you will notice that things have changed from the way they used to be.
“Now Africa is experiencing cyclones, which it never used to. We had a locust invasion as a result of the cyclone. We now have different levels of flooding inundating some areas.
“These are not typical things that used to happen, and of course, they have been traced largely to destructive activities that affect the environment, such as the mass emission of carbon into the atmosphere. It has all been scientifically proven.”