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How Climate Change could Provide an Enabling Environment that disrupts the Credibility of the Election and Democracy in Nigeria

How Climate Change could Provide an Enabling Environment that disrupts the credibility of the election and Democracy in Nigeria By Oladosu Adenike Titilope



Nigeria is set to elect the next president in February 2023. But here is the role that the climate crisis could play if we don't address climate change. The reality of the climate crisis is evident in Nigeria today and these realities are not a single crisis but have a multiplying effect from food insecurity due to droughts and flood down to poverty due to the loss of livelihood. These factors are determinants of the election process. Though Nigeria is one of the largest democracies in the world; that is why democracy should not be considered a one-way thing but rather a two-way thing because the environment shapes human behavior. I see poverty as a political weapon used by the political class to change the mindset of the people toward their demands rather than the people’s demands. What is the faith of the people that have to sell their vote just for a token or a bottle of minerals not just because they are powerless but because they are hungry and could solve their immediate needs? According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 133 million Nigerians are multidimensionally poor. This shows that 63% of Nigerians which is two-thirds of the entire population are deprived of health, education, insecurity, and shocks.  Thus, all rights are equal but those rights are being affected by environmental instability. The true form of democracy is not an election that is conducted when 60% of the population is poor, rather it is an election that is free from vote buying which implies that it is environmentally and mentally stable in such a way that even when you are offered the highest bid you still cannot afford to sell your vote.

In Nigeria, areas with the highest impacts of climate change are the areas where vote buying is more. Last year, 2022; out of the 36 states in Nigeria, 32 were affected by the unprecedented flood. The impact of the flood was high with great consequences for the livelihood of the people and their homes; some automatically lost their polling units to the flood because they have to migrate permanently and lost all to the crises while for the farmers more than half a million hectares of land were destroyed across the country and an estimate of 2.5 million displaced; this is just a single crisis. When millions of people are displaced and homeless thereby are disenfranchised to vote. I would love to propose to INEC to enable the citizens of Nigeria to be able to vote anywhere they find in the Federal Republic of Nigeria provided they can only vote once and not multiple times.

At the same time, unemployment makes young people vulnerable to thuggery and ballot snatching. According to Bloomberg, Nigeria's unemployment rate rises to 33%, the second highest on the global list with more than half of the labor force unemployed or underemployed. The conversation further stated that a third of Nigerians are unemployed which implies that 23.2 million of the 70 million that should be working are out of work against the acceptable level of 4% to 6% which is considered the normal level of unemployment. This rate of unemployment remains; the loopholes in our system today. Unemployment feeds poverty and poverty in return feeds insecurity. Climate change plays a huge role in our election and democracy which could affect the credibility of the process of choosing leaders. That is why climate change is also a governance issue. Hence, here is a call for climate justice in Nigeria to achieve environmental instability everywhere around Nigeria and beyond.

Oladosu Adenike Titilope is an ecofeminist, climate justice activist, and the founder of I Lead Climate Action Initiative. ([email protected])

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