Perhaps, nothing else can vividly demonstrate how far away Nigeria is from the centre of advancements in world affairs more than our near-absolute insulation from the worldwide rage of youth against climate change on September 20, 2019.
Millions of youth from over 150 countries organised over 2,500 marches against climate change; a direct indictment of the leaders (adults) who are unwilling to abandon fossil fuels and other greenhouse energy sources that threaten the future of Mother Earth. In many countries young people boycotted school to participate in that march which was aptly called a “strike against climate change”.
In some countries, young people played dead lying on public highways, climbed national monuments, wore face masks and waved placards calling for immediate action against mining, logging and other activities that denude the earth’s forest reserves and deplete the ozone layer.
The Greta Thornberg-inspired youth movement against climate change thus celebrated the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, UNCCC, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009 with a bang that reverberated worldwide except in the Sahara sub-region.
The significance of this may be lost to many until a sober reflection on it is done. The youth of the world know that the future of the earth belongs to them. They want drastic actions taken to secure that future.
It is so sad that our Nigerian youth were not part of the global action. Talk about climate change may sound utopian to our youth who are struggling with mundane headaches such as hunger, unemployment, lack of inclusion, tribalism, nepotism, herdsmen attacks, religious extremism and lack of faith in the ability of their leaders and the country to give them a fair chance to live decent lives.
Yet, it is not only the lack of good leadership that is stealing the future from our youth. The threats posed by climate change are here with us. In the North, the Sahara Desert is advancing like an invading army, dislodging millions of people from their once flourishing homelands, especially around the Lake Chad. Erosion is no longer a South East affair. It is everywhere. Extreme flooding has become an annual event, while coastal habitats risk being taken over by the Atlantic Ocean.
While the world is moving away from fossil fuels towards greener energy, our government is still obdurately investing billions of dollars in search of oil !
We call on Nigerian youths to wake up and join the march against climate change. The future also belongs to them. Our denuded forests must be regrown and barriers against desertification must be reinforced.
The growing fad of establishing forest guards by states must also embrace environmental conservation.
We must all protect Mother Earth together.