KEBBI DISASTER AND THE HIPPOPOTAMUS

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Continued from Back Page

It is good to establish a committee for 2050 as President Muhammadu Buhari did last week with the National Steering Committee to oversee the development of the Nigeria Agenda 2050 to be jointly chaired by Mr Atedo Peterside (representing the private sector) and Mrs Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning. The hope is that it will not end up like previous ones that ended as bus rides to nowhere. Besides, the kind of choices we need to make are not what a committee can do.

All said, the growing challenge with flooding in Kebbi, as in several other states, results from climate change. While no country can legislate against the fury of nature, we can take bold decisions to mitigate its impact in a bid to building a resilient, inclusive and sustainable future. But we are failing miserably. The World Economic Forum has just released a report on population projections that point to a looming danger for our country. While the populations of both India and China will begin to contract from 2050 with a projection that “China’s total population will drop by almost half to 732 million by 2100”, sub-Saharan Africa led by Nigeria “is the only region that will continue to see growth by century’s end.” Nigeria, according to the same report, “is dealing with a land area nearly 11 times smaller than the United States’—but it will have more than double the population.”

The demographic time bomb alone deserves serious attention but it is one we hardly concern ourselves with. Not only is our population growth rate outstripping our resources and productivity, we are not planning on a projection of how many mouths we will feed in the years to come. That some villagers in Kebbi understand the significance of wildlife protection shows that all is not lost. It is something we should build upon even as we deal with the immediate challenge the floods have wreaked on lives and livelihoods in several states.

At the end, what we must confront as a national priority is how to ensure that the Nigeria of tomorrow offers greater opportunities than today. That will not happen if the majority of our people remain chained to cultural values and belief systems that promote irresponsible procreation. We must begin to take seriously the sustainability of our environment.

Olusegun Adeniyi, Abuja