Leaders of some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have lauded the Federal Government for appointing Dr Salisu Dahiru as pioneer Director-General of the National Council on Climate Change.
The CSOs, in a statement made available to journalists on Wednesday, also expressed their delight that the Federal Government considered their calls for the implementation of the Climate Change Act.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in recent weeks the campaigners were persistent in their demands.
The CSOs leaders and participants at a virtual workshop in July, had expressed the need for the federal government to establish the National Council on Climate Change.
Their call was made in order to boost implementation of the Nigeria Climate Change Act, which was signed into law in November 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Amid calls by youth groups for the commencement of the law’s implementation, the workshop was followed by the submission of a petition signed by 64 groups to relevant government agencies.
The campaigners, who urged government to immediately implement the climate law, also expressed their dismay over the delay by the government in implementing the core provisions of the Act.
However, government took a major decision to signpost the beginning of the implementation of the Climate Change Act with the appointment of Dr. Salisu Dahiru as pioneer Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the National Council on Climate Change.
Consequently, Prof. Chukwumerije Okereke, the President of the Society for Planet and Prosperity (SPP), said he was delighted that the government has listened to the message sent by leaders of Nigerian CSOs and NGOs to urgently implement the Climate Change Act.
Okereke is also the Director of the Centre for Climate Change and Development (CCCD) at Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Abakaliki, Ebonyi.
Okereke led the Technical Committee set up by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to review the bill.
Also Nnaemeka Oruh, National Coordinator, Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE), Nigeria, lauded what he called coordinated campaign by stakeholders on the matter.
“I would say that the coordinated campaigns by civil society, the media, youth advocates, the international community especially the British High Commission, and of course by the National Assembly especially Rep. Sam Onuigbo, played a critical role in this.
“This is a win for Nigeria and an important step” he said.
Dr Mina Ogbanga of the Centre for Development Support Initiatives (CEDSI Nigeria), described the development as `a strong step in the right direction’.
Ogbanga acknowledged the step as one that would cascade our climate change ambitions unto actualisation.
She said that “the strategic advocacy of civil societies contributed in no small way to the government taking this step.
“As an organisation, we have continuously called for the implementation of the Climate Change Act as part of Nigeria’s contribution to safeguarding its citizens against the harsh realities of climate change impact.
“It is our hope that the composition of the National Council will meet all best practice standards to accomplish this very strategic step,” she said.
Abdulhamid Hamid, the Chief Executive Officer, Global Environmental and Climate Conservation Initiative (GECCI), said that the call for the government to implement the Climate Change Act “was very effective”.
He said: “We now know that the government is taking it seriously. Therefore, with this good development on the appointed DG of the Council, we are still expecting for its urgent implementation.
“The Climate Change Act also includes provisions for members of the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, women, youth, and people with disabilities.
“It empowers the Council with significant powers to coordinate national climate actions, administer the newly established Climate Change Fund, mobilise resources to support climate actions, and collaborate with the Nigerian Sovereign Green Bond in meeting Nigeria’s NDC.
“The Climate Change Fund is envisioned as a financing mechanism for prioritised climate actions and interventions.
“The promotion and adoption of nature-based solutions to reduce GHG emissions and mitigate climate change is encouraged.
“The terms of the agency’s being given funds to start implementing work, and all those involved in the act should be called to be included in the implementation work that will begin as the law provides.”
Similarly, David Terungwa, Founder and Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation (GIFSEP), said that the delay in the implementation of the Act was uncalled for.
He said: “While we commend the appointment of the Director General, it is important to state that the long delay in the implementation of the Climate Change Act was not necessary.
“Considering its importance it took a push and campaigns by civil society organisations and other stakeholders before the appointment of the Director General.
“Now that we officially have less than seven years to act to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5°C), as agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement, urgent action is required more than ever before to deal with the increasing risks of climate change across the globe.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Climate Change Bill into law in November 2021.
The Act reaffirms the federal government’s aim to cut current emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 and achieve net zero emissions as early as possible in the second half of the century (net zero target for 2050 to 2070).