The Nigerian media has been challenged to step up its action in pushing back the frontiers against consequences of Climate Change.
As the world marks the International Day For Climate Action, several communities in Nigeria were submerged, leaving about 300 persons dead with investments worth hundreds of million Naira destroyed.
The challenge was thrown at the media in commemoration of the International Day For Climate Action at the British Deputy High Commissioner’s residence, Ikoyi, Lagos recently.
In her welcome speech, Chief Executive Officer, Sterling One Foundation, Olapeju Ibekwe, said the international day is a time to take stock and appraise activities so far on climate change, a phenomenon that has come to stay.
“The International Day for Climate Action is a notable day globally for us to take stock of progress achieved and appraise the rest of the journey with a view to defining the most effective next steps to achieve the global goal of cutting emission and going green,” she said.
She continued that, “As the world pursues a transformative recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears, we are living in a greater pandemic with multi-dimensional impact and life changing implications. Climate Change is just as much of a crisis as any pandemic humanity has ever witnessed.”
She however stated the efforts of Sterling One Foundation in mitigating the impact of climate change. “We have executed various initiatives to provide advocacy, reduce plastic pollution, support capacity building, promote partnerships and collaborations to ensure a safer environment for Nigerians.
“We have adopted four beaches by providing capacity building for the youth in these coastline communities, providing remuneration and equipment to ensure they clean their beaches at least twice weekly while recycling the plastic. This keeps plastic from entering the oceans and contaminating a major source of protein for humans; fish, while increasing economic activity and job creation,” she said.
This initiative however aims at getting at least five tons of plastic out of the oceans weekly from the location while Sterling One Foundation’s partner, Sterling Bank is also set to launch Africa’s first fully solarized building owned by a financial institution as part of its contribution to green energy according to Ibekwe.
“At the foundation, we have a vision to plant 200 million trees before 2030 with our partners and we will be starting this year by planting 10,000 economic trees across the six geo-political zones in partnership with Unity Schools and Green Sahara Farms,” Ibekwe said.
Talking about the involvement of Sterling Bank in mitigating against effects of climate change through partnerships, Ibekwe said, “Sterling bank started this partnership with Lagos State government through LAWMA since 2008 when being a partner to a cleaning company was not fashionable.
“I can say that Sterling Bank used to be a lone ranger in those days, it was the only organisation that invested millions to partner, but today there are cleanups every Saturday, there is significant progress, different organisations are now doing it. So the media is doing a great job but there is much to be done. I know they have seen the challenge and they are ready for it.
“The role of the media is resilience. The Holy Bible says, ‘having done all, stand’. The media must keep on setting the agenda and bringing it down to the common man. Climate Change is Latin, a lot of Nigeria just understands there is flood, they need the understanding. The media is doing well but resilience must be in place,” she insisted.
Worried about Climate Change and the need for the media to step up its action, conservationist and Chairman of Lekki State Urban Forest and Animal Shelter Initiative, (LUFASI), Desmond Majekodunmi at the event during a panel session on the role of the media in climate change, said, “It is a very important role the media is playing but the challenge is tremendous. We are talking about terrible flood all over the place.
“40 years ago we were told this will happen, that is why about 10 or 15 years ago, the panic was discussed and scientists talked about it years ago, they are now saying we don’t have time anymore.
“Last year, the pollution was more than what we had many years ago, so the media has a role because there are forces, because when we are talking about reduction of carbon emission, there are people talking about cutting down their profit margin, the media have extreme role to play,” he said.
In his own comment, another member of the panel and Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Mr. Ibrahim Odumboni, also applauded the media and maintained that there is more it can do to save the day.
He also mentioned what the Lagos State government has been doing over the years on climate change issues.
“We have been looking at recycling economy. In September 2019 when the governor launched it, we had 25 people on board but today, over 500 people are in the recycling industry,” he said.
Continuing, Odumboni said the media needs to be more of a catalyst in the situation. “You need to be more of a catalyst, enough of writing abstract stories. We don’t bother about the air we breathe in, the kind of food we eat, the media needs to focus more on attitudinal change.
“The government is you and I. It is very important for us to focus on attitudinal change; it is about you seeing refuse at the middle of the road, it is beyond writing about it, but interrogate why people throw refuse there,” he said.
He however stated his worry about climate change. “Before we know it, 25 percent of the fish we eat will contain plastic, I’m scared of even eating fish. Those nylon you take at Shoprite take 80 years to decay, a bottle will take nothing less than 400 years to decay, no matter how tight fisted you are, you are going to use 176 bottles in a year, 20 million people will generate more.
“The media needs to be very sentimental about attitudinal change, let’s change our ways, let us think about attitudinal change. The government will do its part to create enabling environment, as you write about it, think about attitudinal change, the generation unborn and the implications on everyone,” he said.
Earlier at the event, British Deputy High Commissioner, Lagos, Mr. Ben Llewellyn-Jones welcoming participants, gave some disturbing statistics.
“Deforestation rate is over 3.7% per annum; and from 2013 to 2020, 99% of tree cover loss in Nigeria occurred within natural forest. Urbanisation rate is about 4.3% per annum, with over
52% of the population currently living in urban centres,” he said.
According to the Diplomat, “With Nigeria’s population set to double to 400million by 2050, without action to mitigate and
adapt to the impacts of climate change in Nigeria, there will be increased pressure on natural resources (resulting in conflicts) and emissions profile (under BAU scenario), as well as climate
impacts such as flooding which in 2022 has impacted 31 of 36 states, affecting over 1.4m people, displacing 808,000, and leaving over 300 dead.”
Talking about the economic implication, Llewellyn-Jones said, “The impact of climate change without action could cost between 6% and 30% of Nigeria’s GDP by 2050.”
With Nigeria’s soaring population, he however advised that there must be an urgent collaboration on clean energy. “We must urgently work together to accelerate the shift to clean power generation, including increased solar, wind deployment and greater energy efficiency, which are the most effective route to climate and energy security, and long-term prosperity.”
He however enjoined the media to take its gate-keeping roles more seriously as regarding climate change. “The media must also take up its responsibility as gatekeepers and the fourth estate of the realm to advocate for and educate every Nigerian on the importance of climate action,” he said.
*Story by Dayo Emmanuel