Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed warned on Wednesday that Nigeria might experience massive environmental refugee migration if urgent steps were not taken to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change.
Speaking at the 38th regular meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed said that Nigeria was one of the countries expected to be most affected by the climate change.
He said the impact would include a rise in the sea level along the coastline, intensified desertification, erosion, flooding disasters and general land degradation.
As populations are displaced and climatic and vegetation belts migrate away from their traditional geographical location, a general disruption in food production is expected to be the outcome.
The minister lamented that over the years, the development of the forest sub-sector in the FCT had suffered a series of setbacks.
He said the setbacks were as a result of deforestation and the resultant infrastructural development, gathering of fuel wood, bush burning and illegal timber exploitation, farming activities and charcoal production.
“These activities are further compounded by the residents of the neighbouring states to the FCT who travel into the territory for massive deforestation for logging and charcoal production,” he said.
To address these challenges, the minister said the FCT had embarked on rigorous sensitisation of relevant stakeholders on the dangers of indiscriminate felling of trees in addition to the enforcement of enabling laws on deforestation.
In his address, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Professor Ahmed Abdullah, said the phenomenon of global climate change had manifested itself in Nigeria particularly in 2010 through prolonged rains leading to flooding.
Abdullah said the flooding occurred in Jigawa, Sokoto, Kebbi, Ogun and Lagos states.
He said there were also indications of a rise in the sea level which would make the coastal areas vulnerable to erosion and flooding.
“Indeed as time goes on, the effect of climate change will be so devastating that most of our islands will no longer exist.
“Also ground water resources in the coastal areas will become more brackish as a result of infiltration of salt water mixing with fresh water,’’ he said.
Abdullah said the impact of climate change may also lead to migration within and from the neighboring countries like Chad and Niger, adding that this would put pressure on available natural resources in the central part of Nigeria.
He said that in spite of the numerous challenges posed to agriculture by climate change, the ministry remained resolute and committed to the provision of high quality food for every Nigerian.
Mr Hamza Buwai, the FCT Secretary of Agriculture, expressed concern at the uncontrolled human activities capable of exacerbating the impact of climate change.
“Such activities have culminated in the disappearance of wild life habitat, change in rainfall pattern and a rise in temperature,” he said.
Buwai said the FCT would not relent in its effort to ameliorate some of the devastating effects of climate change.
The theme of the conference is “Adaptation Strategies to Mitigate the Effect of Climate Change for Sustainable Food Security.’’