Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the town hall is a solid attempt to provide a platform for Nigeria’s presidential candidates to discuss their plans and strategies for addressing critical environmental and climate challenges facing the country. 

Date: 3 February 2023

Without doubt, Nigeria is facing a plethora of environmental and climate crises, with devastating consequences on the economy and the wellbeing of its people.  The country is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including sea-level rises -which have now become an annual occurrence- and extreme weather conditions leading to flooding, desertification, deforestation, and biodiversity loss. The most recent floods in 2022 which resulted in the loss of about 630 lives, the inundation of several communities and their livelihoods and over N4 trillion in losses to the economy was principally due to poor planning and response of the federal and state governments. More than anything else, this mirrors the parlous state of the environment sector in Nigeria.  In addition to severe climate impacts, Nigeria is grappling with severe oil pollution and displacement of locals in oil-bearing communities. 12 years after the release of the United Nations Environment Programme report on the state of the Ogoni Environment in the Niger Delta, no significant action has been taken to remediate and curtail further oil pollution in the region. In fact, a myriad of factors have rather exacerbated the problem.

Disturbingly, the discourse around climate change alongside age-long environmental issues evident across various parts of the country has been quite limited in the conversations that have dominated the public sphere ahead of the 2023 general elections scheduled for February 25 and March 11, 2023.  Some political leaders have outrightly dismissed or in some cases trivialised the importance of climate change and the environment. 

As the race towards a greener world intensifies, it is more important than ever for not just Nigeria given its position on the continent and its potential to utilise its abundant energy resources for greater economic development, but also for presidential candidates to be updated on the current trends of discourse and provide a comprehensive vision for addressing these critical challenges.

Considering this, there is a need to engage presidential candidates in a meaningful dialogue on their manifestoes and strategies for addressing climate change and other environmental concerns in the country.

The town hall will hold at Main Auditorium, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Abuja and be conducted in a moderated discussion format with presidential candidates asked questions relating to their plans for addressing Nigeria’s environmental issues and climate change. The discussion will be moderated by astute communicators with deep knowledge of environmental and climate issues. The town hall will also feature interventions from renowned experts in the field, as well as interactive sessions with the audience.

The town hall meeting, dated 7 February  2023, will primarily consist of students of the University of Abuja where the event will hold, but also be open to the public. Civil society actors will also be invited, and there will be the option of remote participation on social media platforms.

The discussion will focus on the following key themes:

  • Presidential candidates’ plans and strategies for addressing climate change and other environmental concerns in Nigeria.
  • The challenges and opportunities of Nigeria’s transition to a green economy and low-carbon development.
  • How Nigeria can lead the global efforts to address climate change
  • What plans do presidential candidates have to address unresolved environmental challenges, resource exploitation and land degradation in historically marginalized communities in the country.

The event will be moderated by Associate Prof Sherrif Ghali of the University of Abuja, Edmund Obilo of Splash FM, Ibadan and Nkoli Omohudu of African Independent Television. Media representatives from 13 print and 7 electronic organisations will be present to ensure mainstream coverage of the event.

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