Prof. Chukwumerije Okereke, Director, Center for Climate Change and Development, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ebonyi, has called for the domestication of climate change policies in states across the nation.
Okereke, a climate change and development expert, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
He said that the domestication of Nigeria’s climate change policy by the governors, and by extension the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), would help to mitigate the impact of flooding across the country.
According to him, most of the climate action in Nigeria, whether it is target setting, policy pronouncements or implementation, have been focused mostly at the national level.
Okereke said that these policies should be cascaded down to the subnational level to impact lives and property at the grassroots.
“The truth is that without the involvement of the subnational levels, it will really be difficult to make some headway in tackling climate change in Nigeria.
““It should be noted that quite a number of the developmental activities that matter for climate mitigation and adaptation such as urban planning, housing, road construction, and agricultural activities happen at the level of the state.
“It is not the Federal Government that will determine who, and where houses will be built in Lekki, Ajah or Ajao area of Lagos, for example.”
“The federal government also does not decide the drainage policies; it does not decide where people will dump refuse or wastes in states.
“These issues are mostly under the remit of the state government.
“And these are the issues that are helping to exacerbate the issues of flooding,” Okereke said.
The professor said that it was common knowledge that the weather was changing, the climate was changing, and that there are bound to be more incidences of flooding in Nigeria.
He noted that the extent to which these increases in precipitation, rains or flash flooding actually destroyed lives and property depended to a very large degree on the nature of adaptation activities and of development activities within the states.
“The Governors’ Forum should take interest in how they can translate some of the excellent policies at the federal level to states, such as the Climate Change Act or the National Adaptation Plan.
“This will go a long way in helping to combat the issues of flood in the various states.
“Governors should look carefully on how they can adopt the policies within their states, especially in the areas of housing, road construction, waste collection and disposal, water resource management, etc,” Okereke said.
He said that the National Climate Change Act (NCCA) made it clear that there should be state level directors and directors of climate change in the six geopolitical zones.
Okereke, who is also the President, Society for Planet and Prosperity, an international Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), said that the NCCA intended that there should be synergised coordination and collaboration at the national, regional and state level.
“So, we understood the importance of the subnational collaboration when we were writing the Climate Change Act.
“Many of the actions needed to combat flooding are under the control of the state governors.
“The actions include recycling, proper waste disposal, proper land use permits, tree planting, conservation of national parks and designation of areas as conservation area.
Other actions include sustainable land use management, green urban city design, low emission zones.
“All of these things are local policies and not national policies. Each locale or states have their own rules, laws and policies.
“They have to translate the national framework into real actions on the ground,” Okereke said.
He said that the Society for Planet and Prosperity (SPP) had recently launched a programme to understand the impact of climate change at the state level.
The expert added that the SPP programme also sought to know the ways in which the various states are responding to climate change.
Okereke said the Society for Planet and Prosperity was looking to partner with the NGF and the Department of Climate Change to roll out a project that would map climate impact, policies and actions across the states.
He said that this was in the hope to partner with state governors to increase climate solutions across the states.
“The intention of SPP is that through the conduct of these analyses, we can then begin to gain a deeper and clearer insight into what states are doing to combat climate change.
“We are also looking at how we can work with these states in collaboration with national and international partners to help them to domesticate climate change policies and take action.
“We will be reaching out to the governor’s forum with the survey.
“I hope they will participate effectively because it is their participation that will enable us to determine how we can work with them to access finances and plans, which will enable them tackle climate change issues in general and flooding issues in particular,” Okereke said.
By Fabian Ekeruche