Last year, the unemployment rate in Nigeria hit 33% (by modest estimates), 89 million people were said to be living below the poverty line and an additional 53 million said to be vulnerable to this grim reality. With these many people living hand to mouth, political instability in parts of the country and insecurity rising faster than Ijebu Garri, it is no wonder the average Nigerian is perceived to have no sympathy for the environment. He or She is too busy wrestling with sapa. But for the fortunate few, who can effect real change through the masses, do we sit back and continue the slow march?
Nowhere to Run – Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr
For a task in Business Ethics, my classmates and I were asked to give our opinion on the expository documentary titled, “Nowhere to run: Nigeria’s climate and Environmental crisis”. It becomes quickly apparent that even though the documentary focuses on the environment crisis in Nigeria, the effects of these realities are directly detrimental to our economy. Consequentially, this accelerates the spread and depth of insecurity in certain parts of the country.
An Indifferent Society
Unfortunately, Its a classic case of our people’s proverb, ‘Today newspaper na tomorrow suya wrap’, we have become desensitized to horrible realities that we understand, see and feel. How much more the things we don’t understand yet?
Sadly, this says to me that it might hold little to no weight in the minds of the average Nigerian to know that desertification, disproportionate population increase and the ensuing communal clashes have left millions of Northerners with little to no access to stable food or even shelter. Government policies (like the “South-Chad Irrigation project”), global climate change and even the actions of insurrection groups have contributed to the reduction of available natural resources. It was especially jarring to learn that the amount of gas burnt (and contributing to C02 emissions) in Nigeria is enough to generate power for Sub-Saharan Africa. The issue of the oil spillage in Southern Nigeria wasn’t a discovery for me however, its extent (and the fact it is overwhelmingly caused by acts of sabotage) was quite surprising. It was also disheartening to find out that rising levels and large scale erosion, which lead to loss of human lives, properties and livestock, are a deteriorating reality for a lot of Nigerians.
Is There a Way Out?
As it seems, Nigerians are just too occupied with the struggles and hustle that come with the citizenship and full-time residency to listen to (care about or fight against) more things that are terribly wrong with their country. Maybe this is because we keep telling ourselves how things are going from bad to worse rather than what we can do to make it better. Some practical examples are: supporting afforestation efforts by planting trees locally, recycling and reuse (where possible) rather than disposal, using alternative renewable energy where we can and most importantly, educating ourselves and each other on this grim reality. After all, “The breeze way blow outside go touch everybody.”