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Nigeria, make 2024 the year of the environment

By Olamide Francis

I personally do not see anything special about the new year other than the opportunity it gives to start things afresh. Afterall, January 1, 2024, has twenty-four hours in its day like December 31, 2023. But the knowledge that the calendar has changed is a golden opportunity for anyone to flip the switch from old to new, good to bad or vice versa. Isn’t it worth rejoicing over that the earth has made another complete rotation around the sun? Indeed, it is.

This year, the Nigeria Ministry of Environment must flip the switch because 2024 is another opportunity to set things right for Nigeria’s blessed environment. Our vibrant culture and burgeoning economy are facing significant challenges that need urgent attention. From deforestation to pollution, Nigeria’s environmental landscape needs comprehensive and sustainable solutions, and this is another year to choose the path of progress.

Let’s quit the talk, the travels to environment workshops and conferences that haven’t yielded significant results, and initiation of projects that have failed to impact the lives of citizens. Our ministry of environment and its agencies must sit up and find the will to do their job as they ought to. Time will fail me to list all the environmental problems we still face in Nigeria, but I will attempt to discuss a few of them in subsequent paragraphs.

One of the foremost environmental concerns in Nigeria is the rampant deforestation that has been rampant over the years. Large swathes of pristine forests have been cleared for agriculture, logging, and urban expansion, causing almost irreparable damage to crucial biodiversity and disruption of the living ecosystems. This not only affects the unique ecosystems within the country but also contributes to global climate change. The government must prioritize conservation efforts and sustainable land management to preserve Nigeria’s rich biodiversity for future generations.

In addition, urbanization and industrialization have brought economic growth to Nigeria, but they have also left a heavy toll on the environment. Air pollution, largely driven by vehicular emissions and industrial activities, poses a severe threat to public health. In cities like Lagos and Port Harcourt, citizens are grappling with the adverse effects of poor air quality. Similarly, water pollution, often caused by improper waste disposal and industrial discharges, jeopardizes the safety of water sources, impacting both aquatic life and human well-being. Health is wealth and only a nation with healthy people can make large scale production that drives economic growth happen.

Waste management is another menace that needs urgent fixing. Nigeria faces a substantial challenge in managing its waste effectively. Improper disposal practices, inadequate waste infrastructure, and a lack of awareness contribute to the accumulation of plastic and other pollutants. The government should invest in waste management systems and promote public awareness campaigns to reduce, reuse, and recycle. We must move from mere talk to taking immediate action about this. Our population is expanding but we’re not making adequate provision for their waste. On top of this, we still have waste dump sites situated at proximity to residential buildings and minimal waste sorting systems at most homes and offices, let alone public places. These things must change, and this should be the year we start making conscious progress.

As a signatory to international climate agreements, Nigeria recognizes the impact of climate change on its vulnerable communities, but we have barely translated it to any action. Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and extreme weather events pose a threat to agriculture, water resources, and overall livelihoods but we have barely given any attention to it. This year, the government and environmental stakeholders must prioritize climate resilience strategies, including sustainable agricultural practices, water conservation measures, and the promotion of renewable energy sources as we start to mitigate these global environmental challenges.

I have not written this to water down any effort of the ministry of environment or to say the ministry has never done anything about the environmental challenges we face. Nigeria is not without initiatives aimed at mitigating environmental degradation. The Federal Ministry of Environment has launched programs to address deforestation, promote sustainable agriculture, and enhance waste management. However, the effectiveness of these initiatives requires continuous evaluation and improvement. It is not enough to set up initiatives to tick boxes. We must follow through with projects to ensure they fulfil the purpose for which they were set up in the first place. If not for the collective good of the people but for the financial resources that have gone into such projects.

Finally, Nigeria stands at a crossroads, where decisions made today will shape the environmental legacy for future generations. It is imperative for the government, private sector, and citizens to collaborate in adopting sustainable practices. This involves investing in renewable energy, implementing stringent environmental regulations, and fostering a culture of conservation. The state of the environment in Nigeria demands urgent attention and collective action.

By acknowledging the challenges and committing to sustainable practices, Nigeria can navigate these environmental crossroads and build a resilient, ecologically sound future. The time for change is now, and the success of these efforts will determine the well-being of Nigeria’s people and the health of its environment for years to come. We should have started yesterday but today is the deadline and tomorrow is too late. Let’s make this year count for Nigeria’s environment. Happy New Year 2024.

Olamide is a communications professional currently based in London, United Kingdom. He can be reached across social media platforms @olamidefrancis and via


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