Antonio Guterres: The ninth and incumbent United Nations Secretary General.

One of the most applauded, history-book-bound international leadership pronouncements made in the past two decades is the researched data based one propounded by Ms Monique Barbut, Moroccan born French citizen and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, (CCD) on the issue of the relationship between national security and land degradation. She presided over the UN body between 2014 and 2019, a period during which all the scientific evidences on the table pinpointed the danger lives on the surface of earth have become subjected to from the multifaceted effects of Climate Change. She is on record to have said: “when land degradation reaches a level, it seriously threatens peoples’ livelihood, it can turn into a security issue. Data from 2007 show that 80% of major armed conflicts affecting society occurred in vulnerable dry ecosystems”. This is the crux of the matter. It is the reason, often times under-emphasized, why some countries in some particular regions of the global hemisphere are more “industrialized” than the others; and why particular regions of one country are “more economically viable” than their opposites. Lands in its natural condition, is the most important economic capital for their owners anywhere in the world  However, in the present Global Village, external interference on the quality and contents of people’s lands have become unpreventable and the quality of lives of environmentally vulnerable nations and peoples across the world are no longer at their own behest.

President Donald Trump of USA

Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive     Secretary, UN-CCD

Desertification, which is the deteriorating state of the earth surface leading to its denudnedness and loss of necessary nutrient contents and bio diversities is unarguably detrimental to enhanced living standards for those who live on such devastated  areas. In Nigeria, the menace bestrides most of its northern states at varying degrees. Publicly available data shows that it viciously continues to march from the far northern states of the country towards its southern zones at the frightening pace of 600 to 645 sqr meters per annum. With Lake Chad having receded to less than half of its former shore lines, Nigeria and its other regional neighbors who depend on it for their citizen’s Agro-pastoral sustenance have had to bight their fingers. Annual deterioration rates across the front-line states bestridden by the desert varied between 5% to 7% during the last decade of the twentieth century, a situation peasant farmers and pastoral lists were on record to have courageously contended with through teeth gritting application of naturally developed Indigenous Knowledge. However, since the onset of the twenty-first century, the deterioration rate figures have defied comparative comprehension in view of its astonishing spiral and historical unacceptability.

A product of desertification in Northern Nigeria

Real life results of desertification Economic Impact Assessments and their food and national security implications have driven political leaders of the Lake Chad region countries to regale the international community with stories of already happening calamities. In 2015, during the United Nations Conference Of the Parties (COP21), to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,(UNFCCC),President Muhammadu Buhari led other African leaders whose national economies had grown deeper into the woods on account of Lake Chad’s fast receding shores to convey the gory situations on the grounds in the region to other leaders from other regions of the globe with the high hope of tilting the conference’s decision making tables towards making clear-cut decisions on adaptation funding in favor of vulnerable nations and peoples. He told the body that citizens of sub-Saharan African region, the land space of which Nigeria bestrides up to 45% of its total size, were already losing hundreds of billions of Dollars worth of Agro-pastoral investments every year to the menace. The consequence of this state of affairs, he emphasized, was that the land owners who had no other places to call their own had become economic refugees in their own countries. The implications of this ugly situation in Nigeria, the most populated black nation on earth needed no re-emphasis other than the fact that adaptation projects urgently needed in the country were way beyond her affordability and that the UN body needed to salvage the situation urgently in tandem with the spirit and letters of UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change.

Gen. Mohammadu Buhari: President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

After President Buhari’s treatises, alongside those from leaders of other vulnerable nations and peoples, the world waited in baited breath. Dispassionate watchers, in view of scientific facts and figures unloaded on the table at the conference; assumed that one of two things were bound to happen. Either rigorously ambitious adaptation and mitigation funding projects from the Green Climate Fund and industrialized nations were authorized and directed for dispensation in favour of these vulnerable nations, OR, there would be massive walk-outs by their leaders massively supported by negotiations midwifing regions like the EU countries. When the contents of what has come to be known as The Paris Agreement eventually made its outing, none of the two happened. What happened was a display of wordsmithing dexterity from the Agreement Drafting Committee table. On the vexatious issue of capacity building in anticipation of the calamities that. were already happening if funding decisions were not clearly expressed and directed, the Agreement Drafting Committee members adroitly stringed two words together–LOSS AND DAMAGES and magnanimously granted it a resounding status– STAND ALONE, meaning that henceforth, the issue of permanent losses suffered by vulnerable nations like Nigeria in the face of man,-prodded global warming calamities would now be discussed independently from the broad one of adaptation and mitigation. This was the diplomatically couched lullaby crafted by the eggheads that dominated the Paris Agreement drafting table. This diplomatic near-subterfuge was executed obviously to ruck those stridently lamenting nations’ leaders and citizens into the fatigue-induced sleeps critics described their eventual silence on the Agreement’s contents. Voiceforious and powerful industrialized nations hailed it while vulnerable nations could barely hear their own whimpers.

Four years later at COP25 in Madrid, December 2019, the conference’s decision text only “urged” industrialized nations and Parties to scale up support for adaptation projects amongst vulnerable nations. In reality therefore, African nations whose combined green house gases emissions, according to a 2012 public figure, was less than 3% of the world’s total, and their cohorts in Climate Change-induced dilemma are the ones standing alone, in the cold.

General Idriss Déby, Chadian President.

On the grounds in Nigeria, back in 2015, national security had donned the toga of a nightmare masquerade. Insurgents in the North-eastern part of the country had found fertile grounds for recruiting youths whose desert-famished lands had indirectly deprived them of the power to say no to cash dolling insurgency recruiters. School enrollment figures nosedived as the spate of attacks on educational institutions increased. In the middle of this state of national desperation, Nigerians went to the polls and elected President Muhammadu Buhari who had promised to bring about a change from the state of desperation that stared citizens in the eyeballs in almost all aspects of their lives. He was sworn in May 2015.

Dr. Muhammad Mahmood, Nigeria’s Minister of Environment.

Coincidentally and contrary to promises made to newly elected president Muhammadu  Buhari in Washington immediately after his election, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) began to forcefully suggest the devaluation of Nigeria’s national currency, the naira. Upon initial protests against this suggestion by president Buhari on the ground that Nigeria is an import-dependent nation and there-fore such devaluation would amount to an economic suicide, keen observers realized that expectations for an unequivocal support from Washington on the issue did not materialize. Rather shockingly, Washington was fingered to be hoodwinking Nigeria’s crude oil purchasers to come on board on a boycott plan against the purchase of her crude, the nation’s major source of foreign exchange. Consequently, a  combination of “free market” vagaries behind the  mask of Brighton Woods agencies saw Nigeria’s crude oil prices plummet below figures that shocked pundits. The currency suffered a devaluation. The economy slid into a recession out of which it only recently pulled itself with teeth gnashing pains even as citizens insist that the recovery figures bandied by government and its agencies do not as yet reflect in their quality of lives.

Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger.

Not unexpectedly, the scourge of unemployment spread like wild fire. The administration delivered devastating blows at insurgents who had hoisted their flags on a preponderance of Local Government headquarters in the Northeast region. A “technical defeat” was achieved, but only just technical. The breeding ground for insurgency, the desert was enjoying its better days of widening its ugly jaws at its hapless victims. The ozone layer, God’s provision for humanity against ever worsening effects from the sun’s scotching rays came to suffer even more devastating depletion, taking desertification control capacity building out of the hands and reach of Nigeria and other vulnerable nations.

Why is it that the United Nations Conference Of the Parties to the UNFCCC engage in the kind of Krystal ball gazing negotiation-table scenarios on adaptation project funding for vulnerable nations and Parties? This question begs for dispassionate attempt at providing an answer because  its interrogated prevalence tantamount to economic and national security Armageddon for Nigeria and other vulnerable nations that leave them with no other options than painful resorts to urgent and ill-affordable declarations of National Emergencies on insurgency nurturing Desertification in their various countries ahead of other Climate Change induced calamities

Mohamed Yusuf Al Magariaf, Libyan President.

On the need for an interrogation, Africans need some revealing facts to prod them awake. There is a theory in the scientific community called the Social Cost of Carbon. It is used to determine the economic value of emissions by nations and Parties. Economic issues ranging from health risks, the values of losses arising from coastal flooding, Agricultural investments losses and costs of heating and cooling human dwelling places are all put on the table in determining the Social Cost of Carbon(SC-CO2). For obvious reasons, CO-CO2 are valued in US dollar rates with the US Environmental Protection Agency playing leading roles in 2013 when one of the publicly available country-focused evaluations were published. Scientists, in their thoroughness, were able to put price tag on CO2 emissions in quantum of metric tons with discount rates based on the quantum and year of emissions. For the range of years between 2015 to 2050, ,calculated in 2014 US dollar value, with various  discount rates applicable, the Social Cost of Carbon is put at between S12.00 to 120.00/per metric ton. Based on these figures, using the 2015 range of costing at S14.00 per metric ton at the discount rate of 3%_ the United States of America (USA), for example, whose quantum of annual emissions for the year 2013 was reported to be 6,673 million metric ton would have been liable for hundreds of trillions of dollars as the cost of the nation ‘s emissions for that year. The scientific mechanism of “SINK”, by which CO2 can be ac countably separated from the atmosphere in every nation alongside other tracking systems combine to ensure accountability on country-by-country emission figures. For this reason, amongst others, it is all too groovy to surmise that the ten worst Green House gases emitting nations, namely China, USA, European Union 27, India, Russia, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and Italy in that order, are going to quickly ignore what they can allocate the fancy tag of economic nationalism and willingly pay anything near their establishable costs of CO2s into the Green Climate Fund if the issue of Carbon Market equability, which is usually one of the main Agenda at COPs, is resolved as quickly as African nations feel entitled to. As a reminder, they populate the Permanent Council Membership table.

In the light of the facts on the ground, and the fact that Nigeria’s other sources of national security challenges like massive unemployment and economic destitution can be positively addressed with swift governmental decisions powered by adequate financial wherewithal, on one hand; and the unpalatable fact that it takes years of adequately funded, people-inclusive desertification combating projects to move almost 1/4 of Nigeria’s total land space  encroached by the desert  from the insurgency breading ground it is now, to the oasis of farming and pastoral lands it can become  by declaring a State Of Emergency on Desertification on the other hand, there can be no better time to take this ill affordable, rough, hilly and sandy road than now.

Matthew Abah-Enyi is Ediror-in-Chief of Wind Sound Africa based in Jos, Plateau State. +2348039656096 for text only.

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