Whether you are a climate change believer or denier, both camps would agree the Nigerian government hasn’t taken the issue of climate change seriously.
Although there wasn’t much that could be done about past environmental issues, especially in the oil producing states, both federal and state governments appear to be moving at a snail’s pace to prevent further environmental damage.
Oil spills don’t clean themselves; toxins released by gas flaring can’t be recovered; poisoned land can’t be reused; and, land that has been washed away can’t be easily refilled.
Environmental mismanagement at a political level has already caused much suffering in Nigeria but if the majority of scientists from around the world are right about climate change, millions of Nigerians will suffer in the years ahead.
Although Nigeria remains a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement and has set up a federal department to combat climate change, it would seem that talk is cheap.
Oil companies operating in Nigeria have had more than a good run for decades, with officials looking the other way when it came to environmental damage.
In an effort to clean up its image the federal government and various oil companies said they would provide US$1 billion to fix the damage they created in Ogoniland.
But you don’t have to be a jaded cynic to have doubts about whether this money would ever make it to Ogoniland let alone be used to repair the environment.
It’s understood that by 2050 it would cost the Nigerian government, so you and me, US$460 billion to live with the issues created by climate change.
So who’s going to lead the way to fix the situation? Well, it may surprise some to find out that it could be the private sector with one bank already moving ahead with plans to combat the effects of climate change.
Heritage Bank, after already committing a N2 billion investment in Triton Aqua Africa Limited, said it would plant 350,000 seedlings in Oyo state.
The plan would allow for 9000 hectares of exploited and damaged land to be reforested by Global Resources (connected to TAAL).
Heritage Bank CEO Ifie Sekibo said Nigerians needed reminding that the “land does not need us…we need the land to take care of us.”
“Afforestation (planting seedlings) is one of the ways to take care of the land and we need to talk about carbon credit because we need to find a way to make money.”
Mr Sekibo urged Nigerians to start thinking about the future sustainability of our natural resources so that our children would be able to use them in the future.
If successful, this reforestation program may lead to a system of carbon credits where businesses could offset the cost of their pollution by giving back to the environment in other forms.
With a government not really focused on combating climate change, perhaps it’s up to the likes of Heritage Bank to do the heavy lifting.