By Jamiu Folarin
As the global threat of climate change continues to cast its shadow, Nigeria finds itself grappling with an array of challenges stemming from this environmental crisis. Ogun State, in particular, has not been spared from the far-reaching consequences of climate change that have impacted the nation and the world at large. The implications of this phenomenon are extensive, ranging from food insecurity and water scarcity to floods, natural disasters, health concerns, economic instability, displacement, and infrastructure damage. The cumulative effect of these challenges has contributed to a lowered standard of living for countless Nigerians, and in some tragic cases, the loss of lives.
Dr Ishak Salako’s Appointment: A step towards climate resilience
Recently, on August 21, 2023, a significant development took place that holds the promise of addressing Nigeria’s climate-related issues more effectively. Dr Ishak Kunle Salako was appointed as the Minister of State for Environment and Ecological Management under the administration of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu. While Dr Salako’s background as a medical doctor might have initially suggested a placement within the health sector, his appointment to this critical environmental portfolio is not without merit.
Dr Salako’s wealth of experience, gained from his tenure as Commissioner for Health, Agriculture, and Housing in Ogun State, positions him well to lead the charge in managing the Ministry of Environment and Ecological Management. His prior responsibilities and leadership roles have offered insights into the intricacies of various sectors that are deeply interconnected with climate change concerns.
Tackling corruption and ensuring accountability
One of the pressing issues that Dr. Salako must confront head-on is the improper utilisation of funds allocated for addressing climate change challenges. Reports of misappropriation of the Ecological Fund intended to tackle natural disasters and ecological crises, have raised serious concerns. Over the years, both state and local governments have struggled to account for significant sums of this fund, contributing to a lack of progress in mitigating the impacts of climate change.
Dr. Salako’s role demands a relentless pursuit of accountability and transparency. It is crucial that he oversees the responsible and transparent use of the Ecological Fund across various agencies and tiers of government. Collaborating with organisations such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) can aid in identifying and prosecuting those who have exploited the system for personal gain.
Engaging stakeholders and leveraging expertise
To foster a comprehensive approach to addressing climate change challenges, Dr. Salako should engage with a diverse set of stakeholders. Government agencies, the media, civil society organisations, environmental experts, researchers, and citizens all have vital roles to play in tackling this complex issue. Collaboration and open communication will facilitate the development of effective strategies and solutions.
Leveraging technology for transparency
Technology can play a pivotal role in promoting accountability and transparency in the allocation and utilisation of the Ecological Fund. Dr Salako could consider partnering with organisations like BudgIT Foundation to implement innovative projects like Tracka and GovSpend. These initiatives aim to ensure that budgetary allocations are tracked and properly utilised, reducing the potential for mismanagement.
A call to action
The urgency of addressing climate change in Nigeria cannot be overstated. Dr Ishak Kunle Salako’s appointment as Minister of State for Environment and Ecological Management presents a crucial opportunity to advance climate resilience. As he takes on this formidable task, he must collaborate with fellow ministers, including Mr Wale Edun, who oversees Finance and the Economy, and Dr Bosun Tijani, in charge of Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy, both from Ogun State.
This trio of ministers has the potential to make a substantial impact, given their strategic positions within the administration. Their collective efforts, guided by diligence, selflessness, and patriotism, have the power to steer Nigeria towards a more climate-resilient future.
In the face of a changing climate, Nigeria’s leadership must rise to the occasion. Dr. Salako’s appointment and the collaboration among these ministers are steps in the right direction, but the road ahead requires unwavering dedication and collective action. Only by uniting in purpose and prioritising the well-being of the nation and its citizens can Nigeria overcome the challenges posed by climate change.
Folarin writes from Abeokuta