Climate Crisis: Desert Advancing Southern Nigeria By 600 Metres Annually, Says Sultan

L – R: President, Board of Trustees of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Isioma Philip Asiodu; the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammed Sa'ad Abubakar; Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; and the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo at the 18th Chief S.L Edu Memorial Lecture on "The Role of Traditional Leaders in Protecting and Restoring the Nigerian Environment" organized by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) in Lagos.

…As Global Temperatures Peak

  • Lagos Deputy Gov. Speaks on State’s Shrinking Space

Daily, nations are documenting their unique experience on the upshot of the climate crisis and Nigeria has been having its own share of the reversed development: every year, the desert advances further south by 600 metres, eating away arable land meant for agricultural purposes, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar said Thursday.

The Sultan noted that with the continuous extension of the drought southward, Nigeria has been losing $1.5bn to desertification annually.

He said this has directly or indirectly affected 60 million Nigerians living in the drought zones in the country, giving air to the dire ramifications on food security in the country currently and in years to come.

“This has been affecting food security, eliciting migration from rural areas to urban cities. It adds to the already stressed infrastructures and causes social conflict,” the Sultan said while speaking in Lagos as the guest speaker at the 18th Chief S.L. Edu Memorial Lecture organized by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF).

This year’s lecture speaks to: ‘The Role of Traditional Leaders in Protecting and Restoring the Nigerian Environment.’

He lamented that climate change as evidenced by desert encroachment in the country has hampered on food production, stressing that a major food crisis is in the offing, if the encroachment continues at its current rate. “While food production is reducing by 1.5 per cent, the population growth is increasing,” he said.

The monarch said mankind must understand the importance of sustaining the ecosystem with clear responsibility. “That Adam and his wife started their life in a garden is instructive enough to all of us.”

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Partly blaming the climate crisis on rabid capitalism ideals and the early European adventurers who set out to conqure the world several centuries ago, the Sultan said “man saw nature as an obstacle to science and to achieving his feat,” hence, according to him the reason why centuries-old human activities have led to the current climate crisis.

Speaking further, he highlighted actionable points that could enable the Nigerian government restore the environment to include paradigm shift from the ill actions and inactions of the past; monitoring and evaluation, as well as the political will to face the challenges head-long.

The Deputy Governor of Lagos, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat during his remarks at the event worried over the ballooning population in Africa. “Everywhere in the world, population is reducing, it’s reducing in Europe, it’s reducing in America it’s reducing in Asia, but in Africa, population is increasing.”

Calling on citizens to embrace different actions targeted at preserving the sanctity of the environment, Hamzat said: “Lagos is home to 10% of the Nigerian population despite having less than 0.5% of the nation’s land mass.”

Hamzat who added that the resources to sustain the population are shrinking daily, enjoined citizens to collaborate with government in ensuring sustainable and resilient environment that serves all.

Earlier, the Alake of Egbaland, (HRM) Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo had expressed his concerns over the change in global temperatures. As a result of the rapid change in climatic conditions, “we have heard that this year may likely be the hottest year on record.

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“Everywhere you look there’s decay and the NCF is bringing sanity to the whole place to ensure the environment we live in becomes better,” the Alake said while commending the NCF for its continuous engagement of the citizens on environmental issues.

“The last five years have been the hottest years in the last 150 years. Last year was the second hottest ever. This has led to a number of catastrophes around the world, flooding, hurricanes, sea levels rising, earthquakes, and so on,” Director General, NCF, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano said.

Though there has been efforts geared towards restoring the lost environment globally, Aminu-Kano said it appears “we’re winning the battle, but losing the war,” saying in line with the Paris Agreement, a lot is still needed to be done to reduce global temperatures to 1.5°C below pre-industrial levels (about 100 years ago)

Global average temperatures for 2019 was put at 1.1°C, indicating that 0.4°C is still needed to reach the 1.5°C pre-industrial age.

Speaking on the evidential effects of climate change in Nigeria, the NCF President, Mr. Isioma Philip Asiodu said at independence, Nigeria has 35% of forest cover, but now that has reduced to a paltry 4%.

“Nigeria needs 250,000sqkm of land to recover 25% of its lost forest cover,” Asiodu stated, urging Nigerians to mobilize support for climate actions in the country from the grassroots to the echelons of government.


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