Rep. Sam Onuigbo speaks on gains of Laws of Climate Change
…As he describes IPOB agitations, insurgency, others as national tragedy
The sponsor of Climate Change, Rep Sam Onuigbo Member representing Ikwuano/ Umuahia North and South Federal Constituency of Abia State, has expressed his unwavering confidence in the bureaucracy of the National Assembly, to ensure that the Bill on Climate Change gets to the table of the President of the federal republic of Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari.
In this interview with TVC news presenter, Rep. Sam Onuigbo, while speaks on the gains of Laws of Climate Change, implored all hands to be on deck to help combat the envisioned threats.
Moreso, the intellectual son of great Ikwuano kingdom used the opportunity to speak prudently on the spike in the state of insecurity in the South East region of the council. He used the medium to appeal to agitators to sheath their sword and pave way for negotiation and dialogue in order to bring a lasting solution to the perceived imbalances in the system.
He described the IPOB agitations, Boko Haram insurgency, as well as banditry as a national tragedy that has to be addressed in a holistic manner.
He also used the opportunity to thank the leadership of Methodist Theological Institute, Umuahia, on the recent “Excellent Legislative Award” which was bestowed upon his by the church, on Sunday, October 17, 2021, which evidently was in recognition of Rep. Onuigbo’s unparalleled representation for the Constituents.
Q. You were recently given an award by the Methodist Church Theological Institute. Please, tell us how it came about.
Ans: The honor that was given to me, it’s to the glory of God the methodist church Nigeria particularly the methodist Theological institute, Umuahia, in recognition of the modest contributions he has made, adding, “and also to serve as a tonic for me to do much more.
Q. How far have your efforts and those of your like minds paid off as the frontier of the Climate Change
Ans: One thing is clear like I said, when I served as the chairman of the House Committee on Climate Change, one of the first things I embarked upon was awareness campaign and when these awareness campaigns were going on, I noticed that very many people were unaware of the threats posed by Climate Change. But, I’m happy that due to a combination of efforts by different stakeholders, most people are now aware that the threat is real and existential in nature. So, to that extent, I think, efforts that were put into it has paid off.
Secondly, the Government has come up with;
- What was then intended nationally determined contribution but which since 2015 have become the nationally determined contributions of Nigeria in terms of what Nigeria wants to be able to do to contribute towards the reduction of Green House Gases.
Q. What is your assessment of Nigeria’s efforts at tackling the scourge?
Ans. To be fair to you and to do an unbiased assessment, the Government has picked up, the efforts have increased and that’s what I was trying to explain and the kind of support that an organization like the great Green Wall is getting right now is a clear indication that this Government is serious. And of course, I had talked about 25million trees to be planted and these are efforts that are getting direct involvement of Mr. President. So, I know that this is a genuine effort. I’ve heard what you talked about different policies, and sometimes, as we have had different Governments over a period of time, beginning from the Military that you also experience some policy somersaults but I think there’s some element of consistency now.
Last time, when we set our condition or commitment to fighting climate change, we just set a target of about 45% but between then and now which is just about 5years, we’ve increased it to 47. So, I see genuine efforts and, of course, the threat is real. Like before now, it
just seemed like it’s one of those things.
But, if see a combination of the threat coming from the Sahel both the ecological challenge in the form of desertification ground and then the other one that has actually led to forced migration and then banditry, and some of those things encroaching upon us.
Q. And what have been the challenges?
Ans. Well, I think it’s lack of political will and the fact that perhaps people did not see that something needed to be done in an organized and sustainable way perhaps it was lost on people. But, right now, with the threats that are coming, that are existential in nature, I think ‘all hands are on deck’ right now and that’s why from the legislative angle, we’re pushing the bill to provide the platform for the Government to be able to implement somethings backed up by Law.
Q. You’re the sponsor of the National Climate Change Bill which awaits Presidential assets, what space is it coming to fill when it becomes a Law?
Ans: Well, it’s going to do a whole lot.
- You’ve talked about policies here and overtime, we used to have this policy and that policy, but this policy and that policy pronounced by this Government and that Government remains policies but once a Law is in place, unless it’s repealed or amended, it is the Law. So, the effort is geared towards having in place a Law on Climate Change to support certain actions; to set certain targets that we as a nation organization can be judged by and then to provide enabling environment by having a national Council in climate change. This Council shall be chaired by Mr. President and in his absence, the Vice President and its membership will comprise key Ministries that are directly impacted by Climate Change. And it has the potentials to set those policies, put them in place, monitor them.
Q. How helpful has the 2015 Paris Agreement been?
You can see that all these things I’ve talked about target nationally determined contributions and all these are contained in this Paris Agreement. What we have done is to set targets that will monitor ourselves but it is done in such a way that countries are allowed to come up with their own Laws but overall target is to be sure that we do not allow temperature to arise beyond 1.5 degree’s Celsius, because if we don’t have a combined efforts both by the greatest polluters in the world and those who are not polluting, you know this thing is borderless; you know if you pollute in China, pollute in United States, the impacts are felt here. So, that’s why ‘all hands are supposed to come on deck’. So, the Paris Agreement is helping because some of these Laws that are being made are in that shape and you also must have noticed that between then and now, several countries have set ‘Net Zero Emissions’ that is standard that between now and x- period, we’ll stop or reduce our contribution to Greenhouse Gases by x- percentage. You can see, so far, I think they’re just a few countries about two that have attained Net Zero. So, the rest of them, even those who are doing well like Sweden, those ones sparse by 2030, will probably attain ‘Net Zero’
but these other big ones, I think the Chinese are setting something like either 2060 or so. We’re setting something between 2050 / 2070, because our economy is Fossil Fuel dependent so our transition from that to where we’re going perhaps will move to first, gas and then renewable energy- all these things side-by-side. It has to be just; has to be inclusive; has to be humane because we’re not going to commit suicide by saying that we want to meet net zero and, therefore, we stop the things that are supposed to help our economy to grow.
Q. You are the President of GLOBE in Nigeria, please, take us through its contribution to the struggle for a more friendly environment.
Ans. The Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment, (GLOBE) is a global association of national parliamentarians and their aim is to ensure that parliamentarians take extra interest in environments, Climate Change Bill, legislatures and policies, to support them as a way of ensuring that we contribute our own quota in achieving the set limits. So far, GLOBE has done so well and interestingly in Nigeria, I am the President, and also the Vice President for Africa. So, we have embarked upon critical intellectual products. Last Thursday, we launched three major products that are intended to contribute towards the reductions of emissions; one is a nature based kind of product like the natural capital accounting as a way of recognising the forests, the oceans and recognising what is in all these places in calculating the GDP because once they are aware that these things have value, we are likely to preserve them and whenever anybody is working on the GDP, you don’t just talk about goods and services produced in a country over a period of one year rather you have to factor them in and use them. That’s the essence of the natural accounting. Then we have to talking about reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. That’s what we call ‘Red Plus’. These things also are intended to help because if you reduce emissions from forests deforestation, you know as people fell trees and all that, and you work on how to ensure that even the areas that were previously degraded are built back, they also help us towards our efforts to keep the rising temperature to 1.5 degrees.
Q. How willing is Mr. President to sign the Bill and how sure are we that the Bill is on Mr. President’s table?
Ans: (Chuckles) That’s a big question but if you juxtapose your question against the fact that I said earlier that Mr. President made a promise on May 29, 2015 that he was going to fight Climate Change and I have sighted instances of efforts that he has made. You can also go ahead and add this to some lofty declarations that he has made overtime whether at the United Nations. I recalled that on September 22, 2016, he signed Paris Agreement on Climate Change, I was lucky to be there and then he has also gone out during his global visits to make declarations commitments by Nigeria so for us to have been able, from the angle of the legislature to pass a legislation of that magnitude, I have no doubts, whatsoever that as a President that is committed to tackling these things in a verifiable manner that he will go ahead. I know that once a Bill has been passed by the National Assembly, it is the duty of the bureaucracy of the National Assembly to ensure that the Bill is transmitted. So, I want to believe that the National Assembly will do the needful by ensuring that the Bill gets to Mr. President.
Q. Away from that, as a leader in the Southeast, how concerned are you about the crisis rocking your region?
Ans: I absolutely concerned. Check the constitution and you will find section 14, 2b that the primary purpose of any Government is the security of lives and property. So, from that angle, I am deeply concerned as a Nigerian and as someone from the Southeast but maybe I’ll take consolation in the fact that just yesterday, Mr. President held another security Council meeting, where he has urged the different security arms, intelligent arms, to ensure that we are able to provide security for the forthcoming Anambra Governorship election and beyond, you talk about banditry in that part of the country, we should all be concerned and not just about the Southeast but about banditry in the entire country; you know, coming from the Southeast, spreading to the North West, going to North Central and now we’re talking about the challenges that we have in the Northeast. So, as a person, as a Nigerian and as an Igbo man, I am deeply concerned and I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the people who are involved to, please, calm down, let peace reign so that we can find space to be able to negotiate on the issues that have led to these agitations.
Q. And how justified is the IPOB with their agitations, sir?
Ans: Well, it’s important that you situate your questions very well. The reason I’m saying this is that when crisis starts, they start in different forms. When Boko Haram came first, they started by burning churches, killing people in the church and all that. And then, gradually, they moved to mosques, and gradually, they left that and it has been transforming so no shape of banditry, no shape of disturbance or insecurity is welcomed because right now, it’s not good for anybody. I mean, just two days ago, the train that was going to Kaduna was bombed. It’s not safe anywhere. So, my appeal, without necessarily coming to say, okay, it’s Boko Haram, it’s terrorists, is for us to truly, just like I said earlier that Mr. President called for this meeting yesterday, maybe call many more of such meetings but not just for security personnels alone but the traditional rulers, development unions, the Executives in town because you know, the Igbos operate according to development unions and all that. Last time, we had an interface in the form of a dinner where we had an Emir come to meet with the prelate and members of the church and with his team, all geared towards how to find solutions to this ill-wind. It’s clearly an ill-wind that blows no one well; it’s no question of, okay, it’s just for the Southeast.
Q. Do you agree with IPOB on his demands for Biafra?
Ans: Biafra agitations, see, these things are symbolisms. They reflect a feeling by a people that, look, if you are not carrying them along, people will always protest either by grumbling or by embarking on some kind of action. So, but, what I’ve just said and I guess you listened to me clearly is that it’s important for peace to reign. So that these things that led led to the agitations, I said it earlier, maybe you didn’t hear me very well, that they can be discussed and addressed but things that led to agitation, discrimination, exclusion, and all that, they will always give rise to something that somebody says, I’m not happy about the way you are treating me but how do you resolve it and that’s why I put forward the suggestion that we should be able to have these things discussed on the table so that we can find a way out instead of, now you are talking about the IPOB crisis and destructions but we also have the Boko Haram, we have the banditry, you can see the slaughter that went on in Sokoto. So, it’s a national tragedy that has to be addressed in a holistic manner.