Tuesday, November 17, 2015 10:56 pm
By Atiku Abubakar.
I welcome you all to this premiere of a film on climate change, No Where to Run: Nigeria’s Climate and Environmental Crisis. I am pleased to be here myself. Like some of you here I come from the northern part of this country that has for a very long time been threatened by climate change and environmental degradation. That threat comes mainly from our proximity to the Sahara desert, which has been pushing southwards, in addition to our own activities as we live our lives in that environment – cutting of trees for firewood, clearing and burning of brushes for farming, grazing, waste disposal, vehicular transportation and our ever-present electric generating sets.
It is often the case that when a people are bogged down by pressures of day-to-day survival, as we are in Nigeria, they and their governments typically say that matters of environmental concerns are luxuries they can’t afford; or are not urgent enough to devote attention and resources to. Others put on ideological blindfolds and claim that climate change and environment concerns are matters for the political Left, the disheveled” tree-huggers” and animal rights advocates.
However, soil erosion on a massive scale does not respect ideological boundaries, and if your farms and dwellings are threatened you would not consider it less than a priority. Your very survival is threatened. If, as a result of rising temperatures and reduced rainfall, desertification continues to encroach on farm lands and pastures, drying rivers and lakes and threatening and destroying the livelihoods of fishing communities, it surely is a matter of priority for all political shades of opinion. And especially for those in the north whose lives are directly affected as well as those who rely, through trade, on foods produced in those places. If, as is increasingly the case in the southern parts of the country, higher than normal rainfalls and flooding erode the soil, destroy homes and threaten people’s very existence, we surely can agree that it is a matter of priority for our communities, our country and our world.
The scientists who pay more attention to these matters have noticed the rapid dissolution of the Arctic ice shelf causing sea levels to rise, thereby threatening lower lying communities and eroding coastal lands. The resulting rise in sea temperatures threaten arctic wild life and help produce more severe weather patterns and events, including hurricanes and typhoons. And they predict that these will get worse unless we all do something urgent to slow the process.
Debates on whether humans are contributing to climate change have been a veritable diversion and waste of time. I think it is fairly a settled matter. It is like asking whether the heat coming from your oven is in any way contributing to the rising temperature in your kitchen or whether the hot shower and moisture in your bathroom has anything to do with the peeling off of the wall paper in your bathroom.
Ladies and gentlemen climate change not only makes us more vulnerable, it is a security issue as well. As severe weather changes threaten people’s livelihood and their very existence, those who can have been moving and this massive migration leads to encroachment on the farms and waters of others which often leads to conflicts. The incessant conflicts between herders and farmers across this country readily come to mind.
There is no part of this country and indeed the continent of Africa that is not threatened by climate change and environmental crisis. We have already been told by climate scientists that Africa is poised to become even hotter as the years go buy. We all can see how desertification, flooding and soil erosion are devastating many of our communities. The pollution coming from the poorly maintained vehicles on our roads as well as our numerous generating sets in homes and offices have obvious health implications for all of us.
A recently released report by the World Bank estimates that another 100 million people will be thrown into poverty by 2030 if the world does not act quickly on climate change. The report noted that poor people are more vulnerable to climate-related “shocks” such as flooding, drought, crop failures, spikes in food prices, waterborne disease and other extreme weather patterns that scientists have said will increase due to climate change. Thus the world’s efforts at reducing poverty require concerted action on climate change and environmental crisis.
We need to act while we still can. We inherited the world in a fairly good shape; we should leave it in even better shape for our grand-children and the generations coming after them.
Once again, I welcome you to the screening of this film, which I am told discusses climate change from the point of view of the very communities that are affected in our country. I thank those who have put this together as well as their sponsors some of whom are here today.
Enjoy, think and act on what you learn today from the film.
This is a welcome address by Atiku Abubakar, GCON, former Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, at the green Carpet Premiere of the Film, No Where to Run: Nigeria’s Climate and Environmental Crisis, at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja on 17 November, 2015