On 25 July 2022, Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari appointed Dr Salisu Mohammed Dahiru as the first director general of the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC).
This move will enable Nigeria to start implementing the Climate Change Act, which was signed into law on 18 November 2021. The law frames climate change action against the broader context of achieving inclusive, green and sustainable economic development for the most populous Black country in the world.
Sharon Ikeazor, the former Minister of State for the Environment, now Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, described the president’s move to implement the act as Nigeria’s “loudest” statement yet on fighting climate change.
With 37 years’ experience of working on climate issues in Nigeria, including in environmental management and sustainable development, Dr Dahiru is well placed to drive things forward.
But before Dr Dahiru’s appointment was announced, concerns had been raised about the prolonged delay in implementing the Climate Change Act. Rep. Sam Onuigbo, who sponsored the climate change bill, expressed dismay at how bureaucratic processes had stalled filling the director general role. In a frank statement, he said: “We have done our part in developing a reasonably comprehensive guideline and having seen it through to the point of becoming an Act. Now is time to implement the act and stop committees and reviews.”
After an eight-month delay, these concerns have now been met.
A force for change
In a role that he is expected to occupy for the next four years, Dr Dahiru will be responsible for driving the implementation of Nigeria’s climate change agenda, its national climate change action plan, the development of a carbon market framework, and a national adaptation plan, all of which will tie in with the aspirations enshrined in Nigeria’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
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Dr Dahiru will also be tasked with establishing an overarching legal framework for achieving Nigeria’s long-term climate goals (including a net-zero carbon emission target), national climate resilience, an adequate amount of climate finance, and the mainstreaming of climate change actions into national development priorities. The president will chair the NCCC, with the vice president serving as its vice chairman, and the body will also involve a cross-section of high-level government ministers.
Under the director general’s watch, the NCCC’s secretariat will be tasked with securing funding for the council through fines and charges issued to private and public entities that flout climate change mitigation and adaptation obligations. The fines are likely to be issued against public and private entities that fail to bring in measures to achieve targets in line with the action plan as well as failing to report on climate emission reductions and climate adaptation measures.
The tasks ahead may be challenging, but this move marks a significant step forward in Nigeria’s response to climate change.