Defend our Identity

When Taiwo Akinkunmi designed the Nigerian flag and drew three even columns painting the exteriors with green, its looked too normal. A simple artistic impression that explains our vibrant agriculture (the driver of the economy) and peace seemed quotidian. Flags are usually designed with multiple colours, single stars or a galaxy, shining sun, Islamic symbols, parallel lines or tribal objects and so on. It marks of stepping out of the norm to design this green-white-green flag and giving it a meaning relating to the strength of nation. He chose green over red, blue, yellow, black because the pages of the future were already being revealed in his imagination.

Professor Wole Soyinka in his book, You must Set forth at dawn, criticised this art of ingenuity. Our global icon of literature described it as the most uninspiring national flag on the surface of the earth. A misrepresentation of the sum of a nation’s imgination, our literally genius concluded. Many in their quietdom are riled at a flag looking like a winner`s piece of nursery school painting competition. I beg to disagree and believe that Mr Akinkunmi was colouring the theme of the future…a peaceful world living green. Green belongs to Nigeria. It is the mark of our identity and when the world is now adopting it, don’t we need to flash our identity?

Copenhagen Climate Change summit has ended and the developed world, the largest emitter of green house gases has promised to finance developing countries that are most vulnerable to effects of climate change. The globe is warming as an effect of human activities and use of fossil technology has increased gaseous emissions into the atmosphere. The effect of air pollution through the discharge of greenhouse gases (CO2 ,CO and nitride compounds) is making us gradually lose of our identity.

Nigeria is a country whose stastitics clearly reveal its vulnerability to climate change. The green trait in us is evident in our huge endowmwent in mangrove swamps of the delta, thick rainforest and lush grassland of the Savanna. Our fathers understood the importance ofgoing green and that has made agriculture their first art. The ancient occupation that still employs 70% of Nigerians is at risk because man through other dirty actions is endangering the environment.

As we got tired of the cocoa, groundnut,plam oil and rubber that oiled our independence engines, we dug restlessly to ground until we discovered dirty oil. We gradually smeared our identity with the dark liquid whose toxic fumes is impacting on our climate. We gradually threw green agriculture sprouting form our rich soils into irrelevance with the ostentious revenue of oil wealth. The impact of oil beyond damaging the environment is a critical factor that has widely stratified our society. We became poster child of militancy, cybercrime and kidnapping as our youths worried with filthy lucre exchanging hands at our leadership, they began engaging in notorious activities. We took us a new identity that billions of primetime adverts can’t easily fix.

Greenhouse gases usually form an aerial canopy for more than fifty years. The canopy allows solar radiation from the atmosphere to the ground.  As the sun’s rays are being re-radiated, the heat is trapped in the atmosphere because the greenhouse gases has already formed a ceiling.  The atmosphere gets warmer with rise in temperature and leads to global warming. As the greenhouse gases increase in the atmosphere, the earth’s climate has been altered allowing extreme climatic conditions. The global atmosphere has gone warmer and its ripple effects is invisible world in rising ocean tides, dissapearing Tuna and melting ice of the Antarctica. The resultant effect of global warming which is usually extreme climatic conditions is presently amongst us. Research shows temperature increases of 0.2 degree to 0.3 degree per decade have been observed in the various ecological zones of the country, particularly since 1960s.

I remembered I usually had to trek a distance see the tides of Bar beach in Lagos. The white garment tents who swerve in a trance makes those memory still vivid. Now, I peep across the Ahmadu Bello Way in a moving car to see the rising tides of the beach. Erosion is creating wide gullies in the Eastern region due to turbulent rainfall. We are seeing increase in windy rainfall in the rainforest regions as our vegeation in the Northern savanna keep stretching backwards annually. Flooding and erosion of our coastal lines especially the Niger Delta are also effects of global warming impacting on the average Nigerian. Heat temperatures in the north has increased with declining rainfall and this threatens our largest employer of labour -agriculture. Are we going to stand numb or we will mend pieces of our smeared identity?

Nigeria stands at a larger risk to the effects of climate change if the current awareness among us stays at this level. We battled for years for divide in the digital era and though we have miled some gap, we are still chronic consumers not producers. Green technology and climate change awareness , the next global turf still counts on little interest in Nigeria. We still don’t demand a forceful voice to end gas flaring, protect our forests, conserve energy, develop a robust renewable energy mix and enable reaserch mechanisms for green technology companies. As we cheer our national team colour in global stadia, can`t we scream to the rooftops on the issues of climate change in the globe?
Many African leaders may see climate change issues as another substitute for its much needed aid from developed countries. Since the developed world are the biggest polluters, they will still provide the financing against poor countries which Africa have a large represenation. May be the climate change money might be the next content of the ‘Ghana must go bags’ . The sleazy politicians who made our ecological fund opaque are doing the arithmetic already. I was scared of our this ‘green’ identity when our Nigerian President was not the roundtable that struck the Copenhagen Accord. Our governemnt still in hibernation and we still dont understand how energy-intensive our economy will grow, if we are fulfill our vision 2020. We will soon have a share of a global emissions if we keep a big picture of the future in mind. Don’t we want to belong to the low-carbon future and adopt green measures? Or we still believe this oil that has never pushed us to the corridor of top economies or solve our unemployment conundrum save the future? Will we watch our 800km coastline gradually become submerged and our farmlands go dry while we hang on to lowly side of emerging green divide?
Nigeria needs a stronger voice on climate change and sustainable energy policy and needs to be at roundtable for future accords. . It behoves on us to understand the hanging dynamics of future and truely defend our identity. We need world to see the obvious stastitics of our how their carbon emissions imperil us and letting them understand the social and economic effects to us. Nigeria needs to understand the times by truely leading Africa harping on our ‘demographic dividend’. We need more stringent rules on our deforestation and bush burning. We need better information exchange among communties on climate change and how their choices affect the earth.
Nigeria needs to structure a model to enable import of green technology and mass production of eco-friendly products. We need a large chunk of renewable energy to solve the nearly impossible chore of regular power supply. Oil is a finite commodity and if we really understand future generations deserve a bit, don’t lets make green energy as a threat to our oil revenue. The oil rich United Arab Emirate is building a world class zero-carobn city named Masdar using the best eco-solutions. We need to expand our horizon to create an energy mix that protects our environment. The greatness of nations are not grafted in the soil, they are revealed in the ingenuity of its people to lead change. Mr Akinwunmi didn’t paint our flag in black, he did it with prophetic mindset in green. So as we wave green-white-green flags in pride, lets defend our identity. As the flags are hoisted nationwide and we adopt green to mark our identity, thinking and acting green today is simply act of patriotism.