By Adesewa Oyinloye
As the world prepares for United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) to be held in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December 2023, Climate Change Champion, and former National Assembly member who represented Ikwuano/Umuahia North and South Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Hon. Sam Onuigbo has advised Nigerians to pay more attention to the issue of Climate Change which he notes affects every citizen.
Besides, he says traditional rulers have a role to play in ensuring that the grassroots understand issues around Climate Change.
Onuigbo at a media briefing in Abuja explained that every Nigerian is directly or indirectly affected by Climate Change, hence the need for everyone to see it as an issue that must be tackled.
According to him, it is not an accident that the President is the Chairman of Climate Change Council stressing that the importance of the Council made it so.
He disclosed further that the Climate Change Act provision ensures that the State Governors and the National President of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees sit at the Council to bring it down from national policy to state, down to the local government.
In his words: “It does not stop there, Civil Society, the youth, private sector and other segments of the society are all involved. The importance we attach to Climate Change is responsible for bringing everyone on board. Section 26 of the Act also states that those who are saddled with the responsibility of making curriculum for schools should ensure that it contains Climate Change issues.
Hon. Onuigbo also speaks on what President Bola Tinubu is doing to tackle the challenge of Climate Change.
“So far, President Tinubu has done well. He has demonstrated commitment. One of the things he did though not directly to Climate Change is the removal of oil subsidy. It is a major policy towards renewables. When people do not have enough fuel to play around with, emissions with be reduced.
“The President within a short space of time approved the establishment centers for compressed natural gas buses around the country that is also a positive decision.
“Furthermore, you saw that in about 10days after assumption of office, the President signed Electricity Act. That has liberalized everything about electricity and emphasizes so much on renewable energy. These are positive steps and I know that he’s going to do more
“We have to get along now and do what others are doing and prepare for transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy. Developed countries have moved swiftly towards transition. Let me give you an example, we were on a visit to China. We went to 15 provinces and we were shocked to see some factories where they produce 1000 electric vehicles in a day, same thing with Keke NAPEP” He said.
Going down the memory lane, Onuigbo recalled that he developed passion for climate issues haven witnessed first-hand the effects of climate change on five out of the six springs in his community.
“I was surprised to see five out of the six springs where we used to fetch water as a kid in my community dried up when I became an adult. I also noticed that the forests where we used to pick snails and do hunting were gone; this experience made me to appreciate nature more.
“So when I was made the Chairman House Committee on Climate Change, I started studying a little more about the effects of Climate Change and so my passion grew more and more.
“If you take it further to the Northern part of the country, you will see that Lake Chad is almost gone. Over the years, it has depleted by the effect of Climate Change which made it difficult for farmers to farm and fishermen to fish. Herders too can no longer feed their cattle properly and what you get is force migration which has fuelled insecurity and food insecurity” He said.
Meanwhile, Onuigbo has been confirmed as one of the 30 Global Climate Change Leaders
The member Governing Board (South-East) and Chairman, Committee on Security, Climate Change and Special Interventions, North East Development Commission (NEDC), Rep. Sam Onuigbo, was confirmed by New York-based *Business Insider* as one of the *30 Top Global Leaders* on climate change.
In a year when the world has felt the worst impacts of climate change leading NASA to declare this year as the hottest year ever since 1880, Onuigbo has been recognised as championing collectivism, community, and accountability in a global collaboration to address the existential issues associated with climate change.
According to *Business Insider*, its 30 Global Climate Leaders’ list “showcases an electric mix of dedicated climate leaders—whether they are on the front lines, in the board room, at the policy table, or in the classroom.”
Onuigbo’s award was based on his leadership on climate action in Africa and across the world, and a growing commitment to continue to drive just climate action globally.
Accepting the recognition, Onuigbo in his Call to Action said: “Science and events around us tell us that our world will be destroyed if we do not take action immediately. So, there is no time for more talk. *This should be all about *Action, Action!*”
Recall that Rep. Onuigbo sponsored Nigeria’s Climate Change Act and has subsequently been at the forefront of driving climate action in Nigeria, Africa, and the world, including recently championing conversations on engendering fossil fuels divestment in Africa and a structured transition to renewables