The House of Representatives on Thursday expressed support for the passage of the bill for the establishment of Erosion Control and Prevention Commission, with the view to reverse the over N1 trillion damages caused by erosion related challenges yearly.
The lawmakers who spoke during the debate on the bill sponsored by Obinna Chidoka, frowned at the scourge of erosion on various parts of the country with consequential landslides and land subsidence.
“The World Bank as far back as 1990 did establish that erosion is one of the three main environmental problems in Nigeria. The survey revealed that fully erosion inflicts an annual national damage with about N500 billion, this was over 27 years ago.
“I dare say that as of today, the cost in damage from erosion should be in the neighborhood of over N1 trillion annually. A more recent report from National Council on Environment indicate that over 10 percent (or 92,000km) of the land area of Nigeria is under severe erosion problems classified as Sheet-Rill-Gully and coastal erosion.
“There are consequential landslides and land subsidence. The report further reveals that the impact of erosion on our domestic product is estimated in the excess of $5 billion or N750 billion, being the cost of food replacement through net import. This is as pathetic as it is frightening,” he said.
Chidoka who lamented on the impacts of erosion in the country’s ecosystem and macro-economic framework, called for urgent need to protect water supply sources, stressing that “thousands of lives are lost every year to erosion and inestimable values of properties of our citizenry are washed away every year by the seemingly intractable menace of erosion.
“The menace of erosion has badly devastated inland transportation and communication networks. Families and communities that had lived together as brother’s a d sisters have been separated by this monster. Arable lands have been degraded in leaps and bounds by erosion and each year, its ferocity appears on continuous ascendency. Studies have shown that there are more than 2,500 gullies in the South-East of the country alone,” Chidoka noted.
Following the overwhelming support of the bill, it was passed through second reading and referred to the House Committee on Environment for further legislative action.
In a related development, the House also pass the bill which seeks provide framework for the mainstreaming of climate change responses and actions into government policy formulation and implementation on Thursday scaled the second reading in the House of Representatives.
In his lead debate, Sam Onuigbo (PDP-Abia) explained that the Bill which consists of seven parts and 26 clauses seeks to provide practical solutions to the challenges of climate change in the country as well as position Nigeria among countries introducing legislations to support the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change.
According to him, the Bill is applicable in all sectors of the economy as a deliberate and concerted action towards achieving a sustainable development in Nigeria.
“This fits into and clearly reinforces the medium term policy objectives contained in the Nigeria Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017 – 2020.
“Some of the policy objectives include promoting sustainable management of natural resources, addressing severe land degradation and desertification and reducing gas flaring by two percent points a year. Others are eliminating gas flaring in 2030 and install 13,000 megawatts of solar systems over the next four years.
“This Bill will achieve these and more through strategies and key activities targeted at raising a green bond to finance environmental projects and continue the Ogoni clean up,” Onuigbo said.
The lawmaker expressed dismay that climate change had caused developmental and security challenges in the country.
According to him, the shrinking of Lake Chad has led to a dramatic reduction in agricultural activities in the North-East causing migration of herdsmen, subsequent clashes with farmers and insurgency.
“Desertification and drought has led to low harvest resulting in food shortages, inflation in the country and climate migration. In addition climate change has been identified to be responsible for gully and coastal erosion and rise in water levels,’’ Onuigbo added.
He also said that the Bill seeks the establishment of a National Council on Climate Change, Technical Advisory Committee and the National Climate Change Agency.
Onuigbo said that the Council shall operate as a juristic person that will ensure the mainstreaming of climate change development plans, strategies and programs.
The council shall also ensure public participation in mainstreaming the effect of climate change in the country.
“It will oversee the implementation of sectoral targets and guidelines for the regulation of greenhouse emission and other anthropogenic causes of climate change.
“The need to protect our climate is long overdue and the best remedy and approach is through a very strong and sustainable legislation.
“This Bill also seeks to cure such mischief and allays any fear on ways and manner Nigeria is mitigating the effects of climate change,’’ Onuigbo added.
In his remarks, Edward Pwajok (APC-Plateau) said the Bill was apt towards saving lives.
“This will save lives and enhance our wellbeing, improve the environment as well as save the habitat,” Pwajok added.
On his part, Aminu Shagari (APC-Sokoto) said that Nigeria cannot afford to be left out of developments on global efforts towards mitigating effects of climate change.
“There is need for a climate change legislation that offers an indepth legal framework for the signed Paris agreement and to set the stage for green economic development pathway for Nigeria,’’ Shagari said.
It would be recalled that Nigeria participated in the Paris Conference on Climate Change (COP 21) in December 2015 where the Paris Agreement was reached.
President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently signed the Paris Agreement on the 22nd September, 2016 at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja