Reps make law to tackle Nigeria’s climate change challenges

...As bill awaits Senate concurrence

The House of Representatives has passed a bill for an Act to provide for the Mainstreaming of Climate Change Actions and to establish the National Council on Climate Change.

This move is targeted at providing Nigeria with the legal framework that will help coordinate her efforts at climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The bill amongst others made provisions for the establishment of the National Council on Climate Change to be headed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the Vice-President as the Vice-Chairman; the Minister for Environment; the Minister of Petroleum Resources; the Minister for Budget and National Planning; the Minister of Justice; the Minister for Mines and Steel Development; the Minister of Finance and the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development as members.

Other members of the Council include the Minister for Power; the Minister of Women Affairs; the Minister for Transportation; the Minister for Water Resources; the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; National Security Adviser; Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, President of Association of Local Government of Nigeria; a representative of the private sector on climate change or environment-related matters.

The Bill also seeks for the establishment of a Secretariat to the National Council on Climate Change to be headed by a Director-General which shall be the Council’s administrative and technical arm and shall, on behalf of the Council monitor efforts by public and private entities to carry out their Climate Change responsibilities and report same to the Council and the National Assembly.

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Addressing journalists, sponsor of the Bill, Sam Onuigbo (APC, Abia) said the proposed legislation is awaiting concurrence by the Senate for onward transmission to the President for assent.

Onuigbo lamented that Nigeria and the rest of the world face a huge existential challenge due to the impacts of Climate Change such as drought, coastal and gully erosion, health challenges, desertification with the attendant food shortages and forced migration that has led to insecurity.

According to him, as experts have said, the situation is so bad that if urgent actions are not taken to reduce the volume of Greenhouse Gases in the atmosphere, the world as we know it will be completely destroyed in a matter of decades due to the catastrophic impacts of Climate Change.

“It is this awareness of the danger of Climate Change that motivated me to sponsor the Climate Change Bill in the 8th Assembly. The objective was to ensure that Nigeria has a legal framework that will help coordinate her efforts at Climate Change mitigation and adaptation. Although the Bill was passed by NASS and duly transmitted to the President, he declined assent due to a number of reasons.

“As an important arm of Government, it is our duty as Legislators to make laws that will help the Executive realise its goals and its promises to the people. This Bill is part of our contribution to aid Mr President, and indeed this Government, to achieve its goal and promise of fighting Climate Change.

“With this clear conviction, I reviewed the Bill and re-sponsored it in this Assembly. There was however the need to ensure that attention was paid to those parts of the Bill that gave Mr President concern.

“To be able to do this, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamia adopted a coordinated and collaborative approach which involved the Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Honourable Abubakar Malami SAN, and the Ministry of Environment”, he stated.

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