Catholic bishops under the auspices of Caritas Nigeria have warned of imminent dangers from climate change on Nigeria, following various abuses of the environment ranging from illegal mining, indiscriminate drilling of bole holes and cutting of trees.
The chief executive officer of Caritas Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Uchechukwu Obodoechina, and other bishops gave the warning while speaking at the 13th anniversary celebration of Caritas Nigeria Day with the theme: “Mainstreaming Climate Smart Principles and Practices among Faith-Based Communities in Nigeria”, organised at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria in Abuja yesterday.
Obodoechina said he was glad that attention had been focused on the environment, their common home, saying they deliberated on it and decided to take the message to the doorsteps of everyone that Nigeria’s climate and environment are in great danger.
“I have never heard of an earthquake in Morocco before, apart from flood, Nigerian flood and all that. These are the consequences of climate change.
“So, we are also thinking that if we draw attention to the effects of climate and the environment, we should be able to do within ourselves to correct the situation.
“The government will not be able to do everything for us, there are certain responsibilities that should be carried out by citizens. Let us refine ourselves to make the environment something worthwhile,” he said.
Obodoechina who is also the executive secretary of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, while speaking on the need to rescue less privileged Nigerians languishing in Correctional Centres, said; “Two days ago we went to Suleja Correctional Centre in Niger State to discover the number of men and women there, a teeming youthful population.
“Some have been there for the past one year and two years for offenses ranging with a fine of N5,000, N10,000 and N15,000. Somebody is serving a jail term of two years because he is unable to pay N15,000.
“It was for something that we thought we could deliberate, to see how we can support and free a good number of them. If paying N5,000, N10,000 and N15,000 could release someone from prison instead of spending one full year or two years there, to come back home to begin to live a new life.
“You may imagine the fine of N15,000 in a country where billions have been stolen by the elite, political class, governors and senators, men and women of power and they are free walking across the streets, dishing out instructions, but they have stolen billions and somebody will serve a year and two years term for N5,000,” he said.
The Archbishop of Kaduna State, Archbishop Mathew Manoso N’dangoso, expressed concern on indiscriminate tree cutting in Nigeria, saying it contributes to the negative climate change being experienced in the country.
“I think there is no Nigerian living, especially those of us who are over 60 years old, if you compare the situation in our country today, in terms of the environment, while we were young and what is happening today.
“In my village in those days, in the ‘60s and the ‘70s, you will stand kilometers away and you will not see houses, but now, every tree has been caught off everywhere. It is a very, very serious matter.
“We can see the flood everywhere, the heat and the unpredictable nature of our climate today. I think it is something that sends dangerous signals. Everybody has something to do about it. We just need to keep our environment clean, ensuring we plant trees because the way trees have been destroyed and cut off is alarming,” he said.