Founder of Our Tomorrow NGO, Prince Emeka Obasi Jnr, has called on the youths Africa to join him in his quest to ensure that the continent is saved from the ravages of climate change, noting that he is confident that they would heed the call.
Obasi who spoke at a press conference organized to officially unveil his NGO dedicated to creating awareness about climate change and its impact and demanding action from policy makers, at the University of Lagos on Tuesday, noted that that he decided to embark on the journey to due to lack of appreciation of the danger climate change poses to the continent.
“Whereas it is common knowledge that Africa is confronted by the twin challenge of insecurity and poverty, not many appreciate the extent of the danger climate change poses to the continued survival of the continent, and its role in the already escalating insecurity and food shortage in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa,” he said.
“Of course, climate change is the most consequential issue of the 21st century. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that costs associated with climate-change adaptation across Africa could hit $50 billion annually by 2050, even if the global temperature does not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius. Africa stands out disproportionately as the most vulnerable region in the world and this vulnerability is driven by the low levels of socioeconomic growth.”
The Nigerian born British undergraduate, noted, however, that despite the many challenges climate change poses to the continent, there is a bight side as according to him, it provides several opportunities for African countries to harness their huge resource potential to achieve Sustainable Development goal targets.
“Addressing climate change in Africa will create significant market opportunities, especially for the private sector and institutional investors,” he said.
“So, yes, part of the reason I’m embarking on this journey is that I am also optimistic about the future of our continent. I look at the numbers; the millions of young Africans doing exploits globally, and particularly because the vast majority of Africa’s population consist of young people. Yes, the challenge of climate change is enormous, but I’m confident that we have what it takes as the youths of Africa to galvanize action towards averting the climate crisis that now stares us in the face.”
But he emphasized that there must be conscious efforts by all stakeholders to turn the threat of climate change into a force for good, otherwise the continent will face severe consequences.
“But positive change doesn’t just happen, it does when people take conscious steps to bring it about. Despite all the positives inherent in our circumstance, if we fail to take action, we could have trouble on our hands,” he noted.
“Take for example, Lagos where we all are today. It is a coastal city with a population of 21 million and is predicted to see 90cm of sea level rise by the year 2100 as a result of global warming. According to certain scientific projections, Lagos could become uninhabitable by the end of this century as sea levels rise. Tell me, what would be the fate of our children when and if this day comes?
“It is heart warming, however, that the state government is taking action, and I commend the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration for unveiling a five-year Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2020-2025. The goal as stated by him, is to achieve an emission-neutral city by 2050. This would be truly awesome.
“But the case of Lagos state is not unique. It typifies the acute environmental problems facing many parts of Nigeria. There is increasing desertification in the North, which has had very huge impact on security in the country; erosion in the East, oil spillage in the south/south, among others. The scenario is similar in other parts of Africa. Global warming is expected to melt Africa’s remaining glaciers in the next few decades, and the reduction in water essential to agricultural production will cause food insecurity, poverty and population displacement. The question is, what effort is being made by these other states and indeed the federal government to avoid this predicted evil day?”
Obasi who said he travelled to Rivers State last week to visualize the impact of climate change on the environment, regretted that the people of the state, particularly the people of Ogoni land continues to suffer from environmental problems resulting from oil exploration decades earlier.
“Last week I travelled to Rivers state to visualize, assess and raise awareness about the effects of environmental degradation in the state. Rivers state has experienced persistent soot in recent years and I witnessed this first hand. I went down to a town called K-Dere, Gokana LGA in Ogoni and there I witnessed the devastation of the environment caused by oil exploration several years earlier. Many of us have heard about the soot because it’s trending news, but what if told you that here, rain water is literally black in colour and occasionally oil spills into farmlands.
“The people of K-Dere complained bitterly about their situation and the lack of government action to address their situation. Their livelihood which revolve around fishing and farming has been largely destroyed. I want to use this platform to call on the federal government and the state government to help the people there. The Ogoni clean up should be done.
“Regarding the Port Harcourt soot, it is good that Governor Nyesom Wike has begun to take action against illegal refineries, and we got the assurances of the state commissioner for information, Mr Paulinus Nsirim, that the government will not rest until the problem is brought to an end.
“But the quest for safer environment requires the effort and commitment of all stakeholders and governments in every part of the continent. Isolated actions won’t go far enough, and this is why it is important that we all become involved. My intention is to help make every African youth an effective voice for a safer environment. I have resolved to contribute my own quota towards the global push to create a more sustainable, safer, cleaner and healthier environment for the future through this NGO. Our Tomorrow will become an active player in the climate change ecosystem. I am committed to getting the youths of Africa to commit to this noble endeavour.”
The activist said his target is to mobilise the youths of Africa to achieve a critical mass of climate change advocates, whose voices will resonate loudly and clearly and catalyse positive action.
“We will use the awesome power of social media to create this unstoppable army and empower their voices in every country in Africa,” he said.
“It is important that young people become involved in the global effort to ensure that the Earth is in fit and proper condition to make a worthwhile inheritance. Therefore, the effort to improve the environment should be championed by the youths because the world of tomorrow belongs to us.
“Throughout history, every generation of African youths have had to rise up to their challenges. Our grandfathers including people like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nkrumah, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela fought for independence of our people against colonialism. Our fathers have waged a different type of war projecting the image of Africa by excelling in their various endeavours.
“For me, I believe that saving Africa from the ravages of climate change is the great challenge of our generation. I’m elated to lead that fight, I’m counting on you as proud African youths to join. I am confident that you will not disappoint.”