Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Balarabe Lawal: 100 Days Towards Green Nigeria

The Minister of Environment, Balarabe Lawal.
The Minister of Environment, Balarabe Lawal.

“Nigeria has the potential to lead when it comes to climate conversations first on the African continent and to be a model across the world. A lot of these will rely on who the Minister of Environment is.” — Seyifunmi Adebote, a young Environmentalist.

In the late hours of October 2023, as the clock approached 9 pm, the Minister of Environment, Balarabe Lawal continued his intensive briefings, unfazed by the late hour.

Assuming office just weeks earlier, his unwavering commitment was evident as he seamlessly transitioned between the roles of a curious student and a patient teacher. Despite more than a decade in public service, Lawal’s work ethic, commitment to results and insistence on discipline remained steadfast.

Recognising the environment as the soul of the nation’s socioeconomic life, the Federal Government of Nigeria under Lawal’s leadership initiated late-night meetings to formulate a roadmap addressing the country’s environmental challenges. The objective was clear: understand the current state, define future aspirations and outline the processes necessary for all Nigerians and developmental partners to contribute to this vision and support the ministry in fulfilling its mandates.

During a working visit by the Senate Committee on Environment on October 26, 2023, Lawal outlined his ambitious agenda. Expressing keen interest in reducing emissions, recovering degraded land, advancing the Great Green Wall, improving rain storage, recharging Lake Chad, supporting afforestation to address farmer-herder clashes, ensuring ecosystem conservation, and enhancing safety in forests, Lawal articulated a comprehensive strategy to propel Nigeria towards a green economy.

Turning words into action, Lawal signed a contract with the United Nations Food & Agricultural Organisation in November, aiming to restore 350,000 hectares of land under the ACReSAL Project, fostering community climate resilience.

Just days later, Lawal hosted the 9th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall, underscoring his commitment to halting the encroachment of the Sahara desert.

In subsequent weeks, images of Lawal at COP28 circulated widely. From registering Nigeria’s commitment to reducing methane emissions to engaging with investors in CO2 reduction and collaborating on climate resilience in the Sahel, Lawal showcased Nigeria’s dedication. He advocated for rain harvesting during the celebration of Nigeria Day, discussed partnerships with the Chinese delegation and delivered Nigeria’s National Statement to conclude COP28.

Returning from COP28, Lawal prioritised community engagement. In a 2-day working visit to Ogoni, he commissioned projects and reiterated his commitment to the cleanup of Ogoni land, emphasising a collaborative planning approach with the community.

In January, Lawal convened with the top management staff in Kaduna to streamline the delivery of the Presidential Bond on the 18-point deliverables aligned with President Bola Tinubu’s eight-point agenda. During this session, he announced the president’s security plan to expand, train and equip Nigeria’s forest guards, aiming not only to enhance security but also to combat poaching and protect the ecosystem.

In the first 100 days of Lawal’s tenure, Nigeria witnessed a proactive and visionary approach to environmental stewardship. From international engagements to community-focused initiatives, Lawal’s leadership set the stage for a greener, more sustainable future for Nigeria. As he continues to steer the nation towards environmental excellence, Lawal’s commitment echoes Seyifunmi Adebote’s sentiment that Nigeria has the potential to lead the climate conversation globally.

Evuti is the special assistant media and communications to the Federal Minister of Environment and can be reached via aadamevuti@gmail.com

Abubakar Evuti
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