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Why we are passionate about the Climate Change Bill – Hon Onuigbo

Hon. Sam Onuigbo

By Sunday Oynloye

The Chairman, House Committee on Climate Change in the 8th Assembly and the Sponsor of the Climate Change Bill, Hon. Sam Onuigbo has explained the reasons why Nigeria’s National Assembly is passionate about the Climate Change Bill which he re-sponsored in the 9th Assembly even as he said he was optimistic that the Bill would get the assent of the President this time around

The Bill is titled   “An Act to a framework for the mainstreaming of the Climate Change responses and actions into government policy formulation and implementation and the establishment of National Council on Climate Change and other related matters”

Onuigbo who was appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila to Chair the Review of the Climate Change Bill disclosed that with the support of the leadership of the National Assembly, Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Justice, he is optimistic that the Bill would get the approval of the President.

Speaking at a meeting of the Legal Working Group reviewing the Bill in Abuja yesterday, the National Assembly member said if the Bill is signed into law, it would go a long way in addressing the herders farmers challenges, desertification, coastal erosion as well as create Foreign Direct Invest in the area of clean energy

In his words “We have taken in ideas from different critical segments of the society and the meeting we are having today was authorized by the Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila who appointed me the Chairman  to coordinate the review of the Climate Change Bill.

Onuigbo with the Legal Working Group

“I am happy that we have the support of the Ministry of Justice that made nominations of people to represent them on this review. We also have representation from the Ministry of Environment; we are happy to meet with the Legal Working Group that was also set up by the Ministry of Environment to advice on the final version of the Bill”

“We have worked on the Bill extensively; it has gone through first and second Reading. What we have done is to review the Bill to make sure that the areas that were raised as challenges are adequately addressed so that when the Bill is finally passed by the House and the Senate and eventually transmitted to the President for his assent, those grey areas that were either pointed out or raised will no longer constitute a problem for the Bill to get easy assent”

Onuigbo said the Climate Change Bill is important “because of the impact of Climate Change on Nigeria in particular and its contribution to some of the challenges that we are having security wise; the clashes of the farmers and herders and the pollution around the country, particularly in areas where oil is being produced”

He disclosed further that Climate Change has also led to coastal erosion, gully erosion, desertification, and flood adding “these are the issues that we felt that at the end of the day, once the Bill is assented to, they will be addressed adequately because right now we are not addressing them in the most coordinated manner”

He said the meeting was to have a conversation and see what the Legal Working Group has been able to do, discuss the things that could be added to the areas that have already gone through Second Reading, “so that at the end of the day, we are able to have a Bill that is futuristic, all embracing and captures critical inputs from all the stakeholders”

Later in an interview with Green Savannah Diplomatic Cable, Hon. Onuigbo explained that Climate Change has devastated a lot of areas where people used to graze their cattle up North; across the Sahel Region which has led the herders to be pushing down South where they can find vegetation for grazing.

His words” Consequently, as they move down, whether they are coming from Chad, Mali, or the Northern part of the country, they now come to areas where people farm and they start clashing with those people over the issue the cattle eating what was planted by the farmers

“We still have the grazing areas up North where the herders can graze their cattle and farmers do their farming, Do not forget that Lake Chad previously provided means of livelihood for over 30 million people, but the place has almost dried up from what used to be over 25,000 square miles to about 2500 square miles, so those who were doing farming there, they are no longer having areas to farm.

“Those who were doing animal husbandry there no longer have areas to do that and fishermen can no longer fish again. These individuals have moved into the cities and the outcome that you have is serious crises and insurgency. So, we want a law on Climate Change that can help the government to focus efforts and resources in a coordinated manner, which is precisely why this Bill is important”

 He said some foreign investors who would have loved to invest in  clean energy in Nigeria have not done so because there is no law on Climate Change in the country stressing ” when the Climate Change Bill is passed into law, it would go a long way in attracting direct foreign investment and create employment opportunities for the youth”

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