Climate change and peace are like two sides of the same coin. When one is treated with care, tactically and strategically, it effectively promotes the other but when treated with negligence and ineffectiveness, it fuels existing conflicts leading to violence.
¬ Abimbola Abikoye.
Climate change is a threat multiplier that increases the propensity of violent conflict. The mix of these impact and the socio-economic and political problems already in existence will deeply affect countries with people living in poverty, in under-developed and unstable states, under poor governance. As a result, these countries will have a poor capacity to adapt, increasing the risk of the effects of climate change leading to widespread malnutrition, starvation, mass migration, and violence. Nigeria is one of such country to suffer dearly from these physical consequences.
On Monday, July 1st, 2019, Nigeria population was reported to be approximately 202,022,583 million people according to United Nation and the World Population Prospect. Similarly, according to World Poverty Clock 2019, people who live in poverty stood at 92,852,293 million.
It is worthy to note that Nigeria has been part of the conversation and has not only been affected owing to political instability, economic weakness, large-scale migration, and food insecurity but has had its affairs marred by internal as well as interstate conflict which is evident in its recent history.
In the Middle Belt (North East and North Central), there exist the Boko-Haram insurgency, and the Herdsmen crisis which has seen the killing of over 200 Nigerians while it claimed the destruction of properties (according to Global Terrorism Index, 2018, as recorded by the Institute for Economics and Peace).
The recent flooding which has successfully led to the destruction of arable land, coupled with the shrinking of Lake-Chad shared by 20 million beneficiaries across Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger has had its own consequence on the low turn-out of proceed in the our agricultural landscape. Presently, inhabitants across these regions scrabble for water – an indicator for conflict in these affected areas, whilst bearing in mind the oil spillages in the Niger Delta region, has had its negative impact on our ecosystem. For instance, the destruction of our soil body meant for agriculture, the pollution of our air with the release of poisonous gas from Industries amongst others have ultimately had serious health implications on human lives.
For example, taking a look at the Western region which consists of mostly coastal state, Ibeju-Lekki, Epe, Ilaje, and Makoko amongst others are riverine areas, that suffer from the massive dumping of wastes (refuse and sewage) sea surge caused by sand mining activities, and other related man-made activities. All these are adverse causes of climate change – averse to the existence of man.
On the one hand, the political instability of the nation caused by a lack of public opinion and non-inclusion of youths in decision making among other factors have greatly contributed to the adverse effect of climate change, successfully leading to the non-implementable policies in Nigeria. Further to this, the economic weakness of the Nation caused by unequal distribution of wealth and resources amongst person to meet people’s needs has caused amongst other strong factors the large-scale migration of people for pasture new thus depleting the country’s capable human capital reserve. This trend has made the implementation of policies that could impact the nation and save it from being bed-ridden by conflict, as well as create avenue for positive impact on environmental policies very difficult. However, i must say that climate change in today’s world has the possibility of promoting national peace which the world has never looked into or possibly overlooked.
This can only happen with the core awareness that our lives are the most important in a safe and clean environment that is free from hate, personal interest. As such the inclusion of all stakeholders in the nation, will foster good adaptation plan couple with aggressive awareness and proper sensitization down to the grassroots can help unite us to a common goal because climate change is not just one person’s problem, but everyone’s problem.
On a final note, I would like to say that, “Nigeria is ours, it is either we unite and conquer or divide and perish.”
Happy International Day of Peace.