Prof. Chukwumerije Okereke, Director, Center for Climate Change and Development, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ebonyi State, has urged the government to put climate change at the center of its economic growth plan.
Okereke made the appeal in an interview with newsmen on Friday in Lagos against the backdrop of the recent flooding incidences in the country.
He urged the government to leverage climate change adaptation and mitigation to engender economic progress in the country.
If the government stands the chance of succeeding in delivering economic growth in the country, according to his manifesto, and the pledge made by the President on the day of swearing in and repeatedly several times afterwards.
“It is important for the government to then pay attention to climate change because the impact of climate change and negative economic impact of climate change would likely derail the ability for sustained economic growth in the country.
The don said that recent flooding in various parts of the country, including Lagos and Abuja was at a huge cost to the nation, in terms of human and property loss.
“These events bring to sharp attention and focus, the extent and scale of impact that climate change induced weather patterns can cause.
“Scientists, including myself have been calling attention to the wide ranging impact of climate change around the world and especially in Nigeria.
“There is the need for countries around the world and Nigeria to wake up to the significant economic consequences of climate change,” Okereke said.
According to him, climate change is not just a simple marginal environmental problem; rather, it has wide scale economic impact.
Okereke recalled that the flooding event of 2012 cost Nigeria trillions of Naira in damages, adding that more recent flooding events have also taken a lot of lives and cost a lot of property damage in trillions.
“It is possible that the worst is not over yet.
“The metrological agency has warned that there will be a lot of flooding this year. More recently, the Cameroonian government has warned that it will be opening up the dam because of large rainfall.
“This large rainfall in our view has to do with climate change.
“So it is important that we begin to take proactive measures to respond to climate change and to increase our resilience to climate change,” Okereke said.
The don said that he recently called on the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) to take cognizance of the implications of climate change to the wellbeing of the indigenes of their states and their economic growth as well.
He explained that he had appealed to the NGF to adopt measures to increase the resilience of their states to climate change.
“Several states across the country still do not have any coherent climate change policy or action plan.
“It is high time that they begin to do so under a range of different measures that the national and state government can put in place simple drainage systems, better city management and the clearing of drainage systems etc.
“All of these can help to limit the impact of flooding and the devastation that it causes to citizens,” Okereke said.;
He emphasized the need for the government to put climate change at the center of its economic growth plan.
The don added that the government needs to engage robustly within the international community to draw down climate finance that was necessary to put in place series of measures to combat climate change in Nigeria.