Responding to the realities of climate change has been more of political rhetoric than real-life action in Nigeria.
While this continues to build a disastrous future for the country, the government is ignoring the early warning signs.
Severe weather conditions have been affecting most states thereby causing terrible flooding, destruction of farmlands and other life-threatening situations.
The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency in 2019 reported that more than 100 local government areas in 33 states across the country were affected by flooding and 13 states were placed on high alert for severe flooding.
In spite of this, the country has failed to take any notable action in climate solutions, leaving thousands of people in the country at risk of climate crisis.
This has begun to manifest in the drying of water in the Lake Chad, overflowing of beaches and ocean shores and excess flooding.
Plastic pollution is another epidemic the country has failed to identify and take appropriate steps in tackling.
Flooding has rendered thousands of people displaced and homeless.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Borno and Adamawa states are currently facing the worst flood in seven years, which have destroyed homes and livelihoods across entire communities in the region.
“About 300,000 people have been affected by floods so far this year, which is at least five times more than expected in the humanitarian contingency plan,” the UNOCHR said.
In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari while speaking at the Climate Action Summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York, United States, said that the country would mobilise Nigerian youth towards planting 25 million trees to enhance carbon sink.
He also said that “in the water sector, Nigeria will issue a Green Bond for irrigation and construct multi-purpose dams for power, irrigation, and water supply”.
The move was reiterated by the Minister of Environment, Muhammad Abubakar, who said the country would soon commence the planting of the 25 million trees to curb deforestation and erosion in the country in the face of worsening climatic conditions.
Sadly, these are mere political statements and nothing tangible had been done months down the line.
In the same vein, governors of different states have at one time or the other made public utterances committing themselves to take any action that is in line with climate solutions but not more than two of the 36 state governors have taken climate issues as seriously as they should.
In the midst of these inactions by the government, experts have issued a warning to the government stressing that policies must be immediately put in place and enforcement ensured.
Technical Director, Nigerian Conservation Foundation, Dr Joseph Onoja, in an interview said the country collectively needs to take immediate action to reduce the growing heat index and plant trees to serve as shield against flooding.
“As a government, we need to put policies in place that would ensure that trees are planted and criminalise indiscriminate tree clearing.
“The president talked about 25 million trees but if measures are not put in place to nurture them into maturity, we might continue to have high heat index in Nigeria,” Onoja said.
President of Society for Environmental Toxicology and Pollution Mitigation, Dr Funmilayo Doherty, highlighted some of the steps the government must take immediately.
Dr Doherty recommended that the government must build defences to protect against sea-level rise, improving the quality of road surfaces to withstand hotter temperatures, building flood defences and raising the levels of dykes.
She also advised Nigerians to embrace behavioural shifts such as using less water, adopting renewed energy, good waste disposal practice and planting more trees.