The Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet), a network of civil society groups, has called for a nation-wide remediation programme to combat desertification and drought in the country.
Dr Ibrahim Choji, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the network made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Abuja to commemorate the 2019 World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.
The 2019 Theme “Let’s Grow the Future Together” focuses on three key issues related to land: drought, human security and climate.
The day, which raises awareness of international efforts to combat desertification, was established 25 years ago, along with the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
“Land in Nigeria has long been a silent casualty of war and armed conflicts.
“From the contamination of land and the destruction of forests to the plunder of natural resources and the collapse of management systems: the environmental consequences of militancy in the Niger Delta, terrorism in the North and herdsmen-farmers’ crises across Nigeria are often widespread and devastating.
“A small proportion of Nigerians in conflict-prone areas have the luxury of mobility which is not applicable to the land.”
“Land is static; never mobile hence it is subject to varying degrees of exploitation and despoliation.
“Because land is fixed in quantity, there is ever-increasing competition to control land resources and capitalise on the flows of goods and services from the land.
“This has the potential to cause social and political instability, fuelling poverty, conflict and migration.
“Some of the environmental problems associated with crises-torn areas in Nigeria include habitat degradation, reduced access to water points and other vital resources, species loss, alteration of the natural food chain, and additional pressure on biodiversity.”
Choji said that CSDevNet believed attention must be paid to land if meaningful result was to be achieved as Nigerians depended on it for both their long-term and immediate needs.
“Any developmental strategy including the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) that does not encompass environmental remediation and land neutrality will not achieve meaningful results.
“To achieve land neutrality in Nigeria, governments across all levels and stakeholders must strive to create a country where the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services: enhance food security remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems.”
According to him, CSDevNet is calling for a nationwide land remediation programme as years of insurgency, terrorism, militancy and pastoralist crises have inadvertently left behind a land filled with relics of war tools such as explosives, poisonous canisters and land mines.
“Through the deployment of weapons with high destructive capacities, both security forces and terrorists have contributed to the degradation of the Nigerian environment.
“Their activities in the Sambisa forest and creeks of the Niger Delta have greatly depleted the country’s forest resources just as some reforestation programmes have been put on hold in areas with astounding threats of desertification.
“These directly affect livelihoods through decreased access to land, and inadequate access to natural resources, displacement and the loss of biodiversity.”
Choji said that a comprehensive nationwide clean-up exercise would go a long way in reclaiming the environment for farming and other land uses.
“What becomes more important, then, will be to generate and sustain fundamental and sustainable positive change by keeping the productive land productive.”