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Climate Change is not a “white-man problem” – Prof. Okereke

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By Chinedu Nwasum and Gift Eze
The Director of the Center for Climate Change and Development at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ebonyi State, Professor Chukwumerije Okereke has warned that failure by states and the country to take a climate change action through the articulation of smart and comprehensive policies at both state and federal levels in Nigeria will severely compromise  the economic development aspirations of the country.
He made this remark in his keynote address at the inception workshop to mark the beginning of the development of Ebonyi State Climate Change policy at Osborne La palm hotel, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
Professor Chukwumerije Okereke said that Climate Change is not a “white-man problem” but a phenomenon that poses far- reaching danger to the economic development of Nigeria.
“Although industrialized countries are responsible for the bulk of the greenhouse gas emissions that is causing  climate change today, it is poor countries and communities in Africa that are suffering the most of the negative impacts of climate change”, he said.
He applauded the Ebonyi State Government for being one of the few states in Nigeria to actively pursue a comprehensive climate change policy document and the first to draft a climate change law, stressing that such efforts would go a long way in bringing massive changes in the environment as was the case of Rwanda’s green growth strategy.
He called on the critical stakeholders, NGOs and government officials to work together and in harmony to implement holistically the different aspects of the climate  policies that will be articulated in the state and pledged to give his maximum support to ensure the dream becomes a reality.
In his opening remarks, the governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Nweze Umahi, represented by his deputy, Barr. Kelechi Igwe (PhD) reinstated the commitment of his administration to making Ebonyi state be at peace with nature by taking deliberate actions and environmental friendly policies in its all activities.
He maintained that through his effort, Ebonyi state would remain the first state in the federation in terms of climate action and a rallying point in Nigeria in terms of good environmental management and sustainable innovations.
While calling on Ebonyians to wake up to the reality that climate change is real and to put up deliberate actions to safeguard our immediate environment from the impeding danger of climate change, the governor identified climate policies as one of the good mitigation measures to climate change. He urged the relevant stakeholders make meaningful contributions and work closely to ensure that the policies are drafted rightly.
Earlier in her opening address, the Senior Special Assistant to the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State on Climate Change, Dr. Mrs. Obianuju Aloh, eulogized the state government for their unwavering commitment and support to mitigate climate change and enthrone sustainable environment in the state. She highlighted that climate change was not a hoax and its consequences and effects were glaring and cut across every sections of the economy.
Furthermore, Dr Aloh, stated that developing the climate change policies became imperative to formulate guidelines to tackle climate change and other environmental hazards thereby curbing the adverse effect of climate change. She emphasized that these guidelines would help to improve public health, global security, preserve vital ecosystems and species, protect our farmers, improve food security and boost negative carbon footprints among others
The highlight of the event was the presentation of goodwill messages from the Food and Programmes Coordinator of the Action Aid Nigeria, Mr. Azubike Nwokoye and the Focal person, Feed the Future, Dr. Onyikan.