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Nigeria needs law to deal with climate change ,say Onuigbo

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A member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Samuel Onuigbo (Abia-PDP), says the absence of legal framework on climate change is driving away investments in renewable energy in Nigeria.

Onuigbo, who represents Ikwuano/Umuahia North/Umuahia South Federal Constituency, made the remark in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday.

He expressed regret that the Climate Change Bill which he sponsored as the Chairman of the House Committee on Climate Change in the 8th National Assembly, did not receive presidential assent after its passage.

He, however, said that hope was not lost in getting a law on the matter.“I have not given up on the Climate Change Bill because I have been able to rework it and represent it and I am happy that the bill has gone through first reading in the House of Representatives,’’ the legislator said.

He expressed optimism that the reintroduced bill would receive presidential assent with a view to aid in mitigating the effects of climate change in the country.

“With the awareness that we all have shown in matters concerning climate change, ecology and how we can work toward sustainable development, I am optimistic that this time there will be good advisers around Mr President.

“It is important to tell him why it is absolutely important to sign the bill,’’ Onuigbo said.

He said the bill still focused on mainstreaming government actions and responses into policy formulation and implementation and to establish the national council on climate change.

Onuigbo said that aside proposing a council, the bill also proposed an agency to drive efforts to checkmate the devastating effects of climate change.

“We know we can have solar generating more energy than we need, given our weather and that is why investors are coming around to invest in renewable energy in Nigeria.

“Unfortunately, there is no law to say this is what we are doing in case we have a challenge and to say this is the remedy we have.

“I recall when I attended a programme in Abu Dhabi, I met a Norwegian who had conducted extensive feasibility studies from Abuja to kaduna to kano on investment in renewable energy.

“But as soon as he realised there was no law protecting him, the man took the next available flight and abandoned the project.

“So that is why it is important for us to have this law that would establish an agency that would drive efforts we are making.

“There is need for an agency which would serve as an umbrella body because people are making decisions in silos in different organisations and these things are not properly coordinated.

“It has always been the human factor as individuals in some agencies or ministries do not want an umbrella agency to exist to drive this because they perhaps think that it is in their interest to have these things in silos,’’ Onuigbo said.

He said that the proposed agency on climate change would be in-charge of donations from donor agencies and account for them.

“If you are having a donation either from the United Nations Environmental Programme and other agencies you can now hold somebody accountable.

“Today, as we have these hundreds of dollars coming into the country we do not have anybody to hold responsible and money disappears.

“Also whatever funds that are available to fight climate change shall be accessed both by private sector and the public sector.

“We structured it in such a way that the ratio will be 40 per cent for the public sector and 60 per cent to the private sector to give impetus to young people who have the initiative to come up with programmes,’’ Onuigbo said.

He called for increased awareness to sensitise people to understand the need to do away with non -degradable materials.

“We should discourage the production of plastic bottles, polythene bags and all the non-degradable materials that take years to decay; we should discourage their production and we should create that awareness.

Oniugbo cautioned that the effects of climate change had the potential to cause security problems.

According to him, climate change can destabilise society and cause migration.

“It also has the potential to create a serious security problem like we are having with Boko Haram’ insurgency as well as farmers and herders crisis.

“I think we have to begin from the primary school to form clubs in which we can pass the level of awareness going to secondary school and the university.

“We also have to work with the Federal Ministry of Information so that media organisations should initiate development programmes to teach people.

“If they do it at that level and get the state governments to do same at their level, that way we can begin to tackle these things,’’ Onuigbo said.


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