Why Africa Is Continually In Crisis – By; Jerome-Mario Utomi—-At the present moment, no nation best typifies a country in dire need of peace and social cohesion among her various sociopolitical groups than Nigeria adding that over the years, myriads of sociopolitical contradictions have conspired directly and indirectly to give the unenviable tag of a country in constant search of social harmony, justice, equity, equality, and peace. Without any shadow of the doubt, the country has become a hotbed for all manners of violence.
This challenge, however, is by no means unique to Nigeria as a country but cuts across Africa as a continent.
Bearing the above fact in mind, the question may be asked; why has Africa as a continent recently found itself continually in disarray? Why is it that instead of these crises abating, peace keeps eluding the continent? Are these crises natural or manmade? If manmade, who is behind? And if natural what are those natural factors/occurrences fueling the crisis/insecurity in the continent?
Unfortunately, mountains of evidence has recently made abundantly clear that these factors fuelling hostility, insecurity and crisis of the sort within the continent are but a combination of manmade and natural.
Starting with manmade factors, out of many that validly proves the assertion correction, excerpt of a speech delivered by President Obasanjo at the 2017 African Leadership Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 24-25, 2017, will act as a guide to this argument.
In that document, Obasanjo said in parts; I have seen that the dynamics of power and human beings’ insatiable urge to superintend others and disregard their feelings are at the heart of instability and conflicts in countries around Africa.
Back home in Nigeria, beside the 30-month Civil War between 1967 and 1970, which I had the good fortune of ending and collecting the instrument of surrender from the rebels, as we called them, on behalf of the Nigerian Government, we have had several cases of internecine conflicts like in most African countries. They are caused by poor leadership, inequity, real and perceived injustice and conscienceless pursuit of power.
At the most microscopic or micro-level, anywhere in Africa, conflicts are a product of power struggle or squabbles with some mindless power elite taking more than a fair share of what is due to all, and thus, undermining the weaker elements in their midst and domains. Whether it is on the settler/indigenes crises in Jos Plateau or the Modakeke/Ife or even the Umuleri/Aguleri in my native Nigeria or elsewhere in Africa, the stories are the same with strands of difference only on who tells the story. I participated and resolved two of those conflicts mentioned above which have been raging for over a century. He concluded.
If I may ask, what other evidence do we need to understand more what is currently ongoing in states like Imo, Ebonyi, and others?
While answers to the question are being awaited, the piece will move from manmade factors to natural factors exacerbating crisis in the continent. Specifically, Mr Ronald Kayanja, Director, the United Nation Information Centre (UNIC), Nigeria, tells us how effects of climate change significantly contributed to the heightened insecurity/hostility in the country/continent.
It was at a well attended function organized by the United Nation Information Centre (UNIC), and the Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), on Friday 20th September 2019, in Lagos, to mark this years’ International Day of Peace which had as a theme; Climate Action For Peace, I listened with rapt attention to the keynote speaker, Mr Ronald Kayanja, Director, the United Nation Information Centre (UNIC), Nigeria, of which the content of that speech will form both the plot and focal point of this piece.
Kayanja in that presentation used analytical methods and properly framed arguments to underline how; current conflict in North-East Nigeria is not unrelated to the changes in climate in that region over time. As well as provides a link to how; climate change challenge also sets the stage for the farmer and herder violence witnessed in parts of West Africa and many countries that face violent conflicts in Africa: Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Sudan (Darfur), Mali and the Central Africa Republic.
He told the bewildered gathering that local tensions over access to food and water resources he explained can spill over into neighbouring countries, as people seek to find additional resources and safety – placing more strain on the resources of those countries, which could amplify tensions. In these instances, climate change does not directly cause conflict over diminishing access to resources, but it multiplies underlying natural’ resource stresses, increasing chances of a conflict, He concluded
Indeed, apart from Kayanjas’, definition of climate change as changes in these weather patterns over several decades or more which makes a place become warmer or receives more rain or get drier, what made the lecture crucial is the new awareness on the dangers of, and warning on the urgent need to address climate changes which he said have become even clearer with the release of a major report in October 2018 by the world-leading scientific body for the assessment of climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), warning that in order to avoid catastrophe, we must not reach 1.5o C and 2oC.
Ringing more apprehension is the record which indicates that today’s climatic warming – particularly the warming since the mid – 20th century—is occurring much faster than ever before and can’t be explained by natural causes alone.
As to the cause of the challenge, scientists explicitly attribute these to human action.
Putting it more prosaically, humans—more specifically, the Greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions we generate, was reported to be— the leading cause of the earth’s rapidly changing climate. Greenhouse gases play an important role in keeping the planet warm enough to inhabit. But the amount of these gases in our atmosphere has skyrocketed in recent decades. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the concentration of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxides “have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years.”
The burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas for electricity, heat, and transportation is the primary source of human-generated emissions. A second major source is deforestation, which releases sequestered carbon into the air. It’s estimated that logging, clear-cutting, fires, and other forms of forest degradation contribute to 20 per cent of global carbon emissions. Though our planet’s forests and oceans absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and other processes, these natural carbon sinks can’t keep up with our rising emissions. The resulting buildup of greenhouse gases is causing alarmingly fast warming worldwide.
To further explain the challenge we currently face; ‘as the earth’s atmosphere heats up, it collects, retains, and drops more water, changing weather patterns and making wet areas wetter and dry areas drier. Higher temperatures lead to melting of ice which in turn leads to sea rise, floods and storms and other disasters. The changes in weather patterns, drought and flooding affect livelihoods’.
As to what should be done for sustainable peace to return to Africa, former President Obasanjo has this message for African leaders; We have to cast back our minds and replicate in our different socio-cultural and political or economic settings and see if power sharing and unfair-minded leadership with selfishness and lack of adequate consideration do not rank high in why Africans have turned to bearing arms against fellow compatriots in needless conflicts and wars when socio-economic development and inclusion should have been our priority.
For Kayanjas, we are all called to adjust in psychological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts. We need to bring in changes in processes, practices, and structures to moderate potential damages or to benefit from opportunities associated with climate change. In simple terms, countries and communities need to develop adaptation solutions and implement actions to respond to the impact of climate change that is already happening, as well as prepare for future impact.
Very important also, the key for the solution to the climate change problem rests in decreasing the number of emissions released into the atmosphere, also reducing the current concentration of carbon-dioxide by enhancing sinks (e.g. increasing the area of forests). As individuals, we must learn more about global warming and how it is affecting us and the community. Make demands to the leaders through advocacy and other actions-leaders at all levels have roles to play related to adaptation and mitigation.Most important than all these, to truly enjoy peace in Africa, we must first shun tribalism, social discrimination, bad leadership, intolerance, and injustices as no nation enjoy durable peace without justice and equity.