25th April, 2022
President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR
Dear President Buhari,
I was prompted to write this letter to you because I felt that there is a need to bring your attention to the threats climate change and environmental pollution pose to our country and the continent of Africa at large. I am a Nigerian student in the United Kingdom who is deeply concerned about the growing challenges of environmental pollution and climate change. This prompted me to set up Our Tomorrow Endowment, a Pan-African environmental activist organisation. Our core mandate is to create awareness about climate change, especially among the youths of Africa, with a view to influencing action towards mitigating its impact.
Our Tomorrow is domiciled in every African country with our international headquarter here in London and regional headquarters in the five African sub-regions, and a special representative office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We are committed to creating massive awareness among African youths about climate change. To achieve this objective, we would need your personal support and that of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
I paid great attention to your presentation at the Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland late last year and I was highly impressed. You articulated the importance of global solidarity in tackling climate change and highlighted the work your administration is doing to reduce greenhouse emissions in Nigeria and transition towards cleaner energy.
I was glad when, during your presentation, you pledged that Nigeria will cut its emissions to net zero by 2060, while also stressing the need for easier access to climate finance for developing countries, especially given the fact that Africa is only responsible for 5% of global emissions.
Therefore, it is only fair that developed countries help fund the transition away from fossil fuels in developing countries that are yet to industrialize. You also courageously reminded developed countries of the critical need for them to meet their “National Determined Contribution”, the commitment through which developed countries pledged $100 billion at the Paris Accord in 2016 to tackle the effect of climate change globally.
Your commitment to implement an ambitious energy compact, including the flagship project of electrifying million households including 25 million people using decentralized solar energy was impressive. Climate change and environmental pollution are matters I care strongly about, because I am aware of the danger they pose, particularly to our continent’s survival. The 22nd of April was Earth Day and the theme was “Invest in our planet”.
I have resolved to invest my time and contribute my quota to raise awareness about the impending dangers of climate change and environmental pollution. My resolve in this respect was further strengthened when, while on a visit to Nigeria in January, I visited a number of communities that are already bearing the brunt of the environmental crisis. Mr. President, it was an unpleasant experience.
In Ogoni in Rivers State for example, the environment has been degraded by oil spills; farmlands have been destroyed and water bodies polluted. In the Port Harcourt metropolis, black soot has become a terrifying fact of life. The people of the region complained bitterly because their means of livelihood, which revolves around fishing and farming, has been destroyed.
The situation is similar in most parts of the state and indeed the entire Niger Delta region. I also witnessed the threat that rising sea levels pose to inhabitants of the coastal areas of Lagos, and equally got acquainted with the devastating impact desertification is already having in the northern parts of the country.
Indeed, across Africa, we are witnessing the most severe effects of climate change. It has led to seasons of drought, excess floods and desertification, which have exacerbated the security situation on the continent. UNICEF projects that as many as 20 million people in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia will need water and food assistance in the next six months. At the moment, nearly 5.5 million children in these four countries are threatened by acute malnutrition and an estimated 1.4 million children by severe acute malnutrition. There are fears that this number will increase by 50 percent if the rains do not come in the next three months.
The situation is dire and unfortunately, there is not much continental effort to tackle it. Mr. President, you have a responsibility, as the leader of the most populous country in Africa, appropriately nicknamed the Giant of Africa to step up to the challenge, mobilize the entire continent and lead the campaign against climate change and environmental pollution.
Sadly, after the C0P26 in November last year, I have not seen much follow up action and I am apprehensive that the programmes, which you had eloquently canvassed, stand the risk of being relegated to the background. I am worried because climate change and environmental pollution are too important to be treated with negligence. They are matters that have grave implications for the survival of our continent. They have the potential to cause a food crisis and worsen security challenges if not tackled. Therefore, the time for action is now. The experience I had interacting with impacted communities made me commit to doubling my effort towards creating awareness around these issues.
I held a press conference at UNILAG and engaged youths in the Lagos area to inform them of the issues and encourage them to be conscious of the environment However, sir, your administration must step in here and establish a national media campaign to educate Nigerians on these issues. Collaboration between the private and public sector is critical if Nigeria is to achieve net zero emissions by 2060.
State and local governments should take the initiative and address the effects of climate change within their jurisdictions. In all these, Mr. President, you should take the lead, and from the front. I hope that in the near future, l will have the privilege to meet with you and brief you on my efforts to combat climate change. Let me add with every sense of responsibility that we also appreciate your effort in driving infrastructure development in our country, and your other efforts in ensuring that we achieve food sufficiency. Most certainly, history will be kinder to your legacy than many imagine.
Prince Emeka Obasi Jnr.
Founder, Our Tomorrow NGO