In recent times the problem of environmental degradation of urban areas in Nigeria has reached an unprecedented proportion. This ugly phenomenon which (according to our observations) is prevalent in both residential, industrial, rural and urban areas is observed to be caused by increased population growth, unsustainable use of resources, rapid industrialization, unemployment, traditional/cultural practices, income inadequacies as well as inefficient or non-existing waste management strategies especially given the rapid rise in population densities. We shall focus our call to action today on three key climatic issues as can be seen below:
Climate Change Budget Tagging (CCBT) & Implementation In Cross River State:
Climate change is believed to be one of the single greatest challenge humanity has ever faced today. It has threatened water and food security, transportation, health, livelihoods, and the safety of billions of people. Climate change represents an all-of-society challenge and all-of-society opportunity hence governments at all levels must prioritize it in her yearly fiscal budgetary provisions. The latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that the planet will reach the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, triggering the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people – posing a threat also to the achievement of the entire Agenda 2030.
We use this medium to call on the Cross River State Government to have a quick rethink on her 2021 Budgetary provisions relating to environmental and climate change adaptation. A recent critical review of the States’ 2021 Citizens Budget by our team only helps to further fuel our scepticism viz: 1) is there adequate climate change budget tagging in the 2021 fiscal year? 2) Are relevant agencies of government involved with environmental/climate change and budgetary issues well equipped to plan, implement and report relevant milestones as regards environmental degradation and climate change mitigation ahead of 2030? 3) Is there adequate reforestation budgetary provisions in the 2021 fiscal year to compensate for the huge number of trees already lost due to the massive deforestation occasioned by the construction of the Super-Highway project? 4) is the Cross River State Government accessing enough grants from relevant interventionist agencies as regards climate change mitigation? 5) Do we currently have in place any advanced technological deployment like Geographical Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing in our vast forest areas? These and many other questions are begging for answers hence our call for the State Government to please consider reviewing our 2021 fiscal year budget to reflect dynamic realities relating to environmental degradation and climate change mitigation.
We also call on the State Government to note that it is increasingly important for relevant agencies of governance to track and report financial flows that support climate change mitigation and adaptation, so as to build trust and accountability with regard to climate finance commitments, monitor and promote trends & progress in climate-related investment.
Environmental Sanitation & Waste Management In Cross River State:
On environmental sanitation and waste management, our findings reveal a wide pattern of disparity between household income and waste disposal facilities especially in Cross Rivers’ urban cities of Calabar, Ugep, Ikom, Ogoja and Obudu. It is observed that the high-density residential areas within the cities mentioned above are not well served in waste management facilities resulting in environment degradation and (in some instances) isolated cases of open-air defecation. It is surprising to note that a surface review of the medium and low-density residential areas within the aforementioned municipalities seems to be better served in terms of waste management; but a thorough check would reveal the fact that these areas most times resort to self-help with the utilization of all sorts of obnoxious waste management methods most of which still has adverse effects in the climatic atmosphere of our environment (e.g open-air burning of waste, use of open pit toilets, open-field waste disposal, river basin waste disposal, emptying/disposal of waste on gully/drainage ways during rainfall etc.). From a random opinion poll conducted by our team while trying to sensitize residents within these urban areas we have come to realise that their expectations is government should be solely responsible for waste management just like any other social amenity in society. To this end, much public enlightenment, sensitization and frontal actions with relative candour needs to be taken by relevant agencies.
Gully Erosion Control in Cross River State:
Cross River State is situated on a unique ecological position in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria which makes her susceptible to the full spectrum of the diverse vegetation types, including the coastal mangrove forest, the lush tropical equatorial rain forest to the centre and the savannah type vegetation to the north. The threat and hazard associated with gully erosion is real in this area notably in the state capital Calabar. Like in most states within the south-east and south – south zones of the country, gully erosion is posing serious ecological problems in many Local Government Areas of the State. It has resulted in disruption of transport and communication system, degrade arable land, contaminate water bodies, lead to isolation of settlement and migration of communities. Again, the obvious disappearance of vegetation covers due mainly to anthropogenic activities like overgrazing, over cropping and deforestation, the sandy nature of the soil, high rainfall regimes as a result of the geographical location of the Cross River State are certainly associated with the vulnerability of the State soil to erosion.
We acknowledge the concerted efforts by governments and other interventionist agencies towards the rehabilitation of most of these gully erosion sites over the years. We have also watched in amazement how these efforts have become futile back-to-back. Point of note is the fact that Youths formations in any given locality remains very key to the sustainable development of such community. They must be carried along in all developmental thrust within the locality. A situation where the youths are only involved in such erosion site rehabilitation only as a source of cheap labour and not as developmental partners of the project from pre-assessment to award of contract, to execution and evaluation; the Youths formations ought to be a veritable source for feedback on such project execution and quality assurance, baring that they are principal victims of gully erosion incidents within their communities they should be carried along in all facets of the remediation actions. This would further go a long way to forestall and give clarity to the youths and in extension the community at large during untoward project execution challenges like what transpired last Monday in Ikot Nkebre and Ikot Ekpo leading to the suspension of work in the World Bank Erosion sites as reported on page 29 of The Guardian newspaper of Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Feedbacks from our members within that area confirms that the Communities were kept in the dark about the extent of government involvement vis-à-vis the interventionist foreign agency hence their decision to request both parties to go and reconcile their differences before coming back to continue with the project. There is need for more clarity, transparency and diplomatic candour concerning humanitarian deals between the government and interventionist organisations.
Our Position As An Organization:
Youths For New Nigeria (YNN) is a nationalist socioeconomic youth based civil society organization that works more at the grassroots to engage, empower and enhance the lives of youthful adults for individual and collective prosperity within the society. We maintain formations in all States of Nigeria (including the FCT) and grassroot mobilization platforms in all the Local Government Areas of the Country. One of our focal points includes grassroot sensitization on environmental & climate change issues and review of public projects implementation & quality assurance.
As an organization, we have initiation a commitment to plant Ten Thousand (10,000) Environmental Friendly and Economic Enhancing Trees across Nigeria before the end of 2021. This project was commissioned last Friday, 23rd April, 2021 with the planting of 500 variety of windbreaker trees and greener-environment enhancing trees. we are very open minded and ready to partner relevant agencies to conserve and safe our environment from avoidable degradation by being at the forefront of public-spirited earth friendly actions like reforestation using windbreaks, advice on application of contour ploughing, stubble planting & time of plough farming techniques and use/construction of stone walls across erosion prone areas within the state.
Indeed, we are poised and ever ready to join hands together in restoring our earth!
Thomas Joseph Ofem
26th April, 2021.