Dear Mr. President,
My name is Hamzat Lawal, a proud Nigerian citizen, passionate about the environment and transformative change. I am writing you today as a concerned youth whose future and that of generations yet unborn is being threatened by the effects of climate change.
I humbly appeal to you as the Leader of Africa’s most populous black nation, a father who loves his children and an environmentalist who is passionate about the well-being of the people. You should positively influence the ongoing climate talks and inspire other world leaders in taking actions especially in Africa.
Climate change will define our present and future existence…
A bill to establish the Climate Change Commission is currently awaiting your Presidential ascent; this bill, if passed into law, would coordinate Nigeria’s response to climate change and would give a positive signal to the global community while putting Nigeria at the forefront in tackling this menace.
Last year, many states in our dear country were ravaged with floods leading to the death of over 100 people. Millions were displaced, infrastructures worth millions of dollars destroyed leading to temporary economic collapse, children were unable to go to school and water borne diseases increased. You immediately made a provision of N17.6 billion in direct financial assistance to the affected states and some federal government agencies for disaster management; funds that could have been directed to economic growth if we had a legal and institutional framework in place.
In your inaugural speech on May 29, 2011, you said, ‘We must grow the economy, create jobs, and generate enduring happiness for our people. I have great confidence in the ability of Nigerians to transform this country. The urgent task of my administration is to provide a suitable environment, for productive activities to flourish. I therefore call on the good people of Nigeria, to enlist as agents of this great transformation’.
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report shows that Africa will suffer the most from climate change compared to the other continents. We are particularly vulnerable because our current capacity to adapt to climate change is considerably limited.
In recent years, average temperatures have soared. They are projected by scientists to increase three to four degrees Celsius within the next century if nothing is done now. The extreme weather that comes with temperature rises will destroy infrastructure and have undue impacts on agriculture and disease risk rates. Currently, agriculture accounts for over 60% of our labour and contributes to our GDP, both of which are threatened by climate change.
You promised transformative growth, development and ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’. Now is the time to act on your promises by signing the Climate Change Commission bill into law.
The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has invited you to join other Heads of State in bringing climate change commitments to the Climate Change Summit in New York in September 2014. If you ascent to this bill before going, you would put Nigeria on an enviable pathway toward building a low carbon economy; strengthening our resilience and bringing together the public and private sector, academia and other critical actors to chart a roadmap for sustainable growth and development for our great country, socially, economically and diplomatically with a guaranteed future for all.
By Hamzat B. Lawal
Nigerian Youth Climate Action Network