By Philip Yatai

Some experts on Monday urged the gubernatorial candidates in the 2023 General Election in Kaduna state to include climate change in their campaign manifesto and governance programme.

The experts also advocated to the candidates to take up the issue of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in basic education to equip children with ICT skills at the foundation level.

They made the call in Kaduna, at a one-day Public Policy Dialogue with the gubernatorial candidates on issue-based campaigns.

The event was organised by Partnership for Issue-Based Campaign in Nigeria (PICaN) in collaboration with Legal Awareness for Nigeria Women (LANW) with support from Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), a governance programme.

Ms Gloria Bulus, an environmentalist and Executive Director, Bridge that Gap Initiative, pointed out that climate change has transcended from global to a local issue with its impact being felt at all levels.

Bulus, who is also the Coordinator, Network of Civil Society in Environment, said that some of the impacts were evident in Kaduna – floods, rise in temperature, and inconsistency in annual rainfall.

This, according to the climate reality leader, is affecting food production, leading to loss of livelihood for Smallholder farmers, hunger, poverty, and hike in food prices amongst other challenges.

She stressed the need for a climate change policy in the state, urging the gubernatorial candidates to include the issue in their manifesto for a robust climate change response if they win the election.   

She also asked the candidates to consider social protection interventions for those impacted by the climate crises and comprehensive school safety policy for schools affected by climate impacts like flood.

“We also want consideration for setting up of effective early warning systems, strengthening of relevant agencies and increased investment in climate change related issues,” she said.

Similarly, Mr Leslie Dongh, a Communication Technology expert, described ICT for teaching and learning as “critical” to the state’s development aspirations.

Dongh urged the gubernatorial candidates to consider entrenching ICT skills at basic education level in their governance agenda if successful at the polls.

According to him, while tertiary institutions were equipped with ICT facilities, children in basic schools were left behind and cannot compete internationally.

“In the few schools where computers are available, electrification is an issue and students can’t access the computers.

“Also, the manpower to communicate ICT knowledge is also lacking.”

Earlier, Mr Yusuf Goje, Lead Partners of PICaN in the state, said that the event was organised to present citizens’ demand to the candidates to influence their electoral campaign manifesto and governance programme.  

Goje explained that the event, the second in the series, was also to deliberate on the agenda of citizen groups and candidates’ blueprint with a view to obtain development commitments in key sectors.

He added that the dialogue also provides the needed forum for promoting youth and women participation in the electoral process and entrench issues-based campaigns in the state.

He equally said that the event was also to get commitments from the candidates on the development of key sectors and promotion of youth and women participation in the electoral process.

The gubernatorial candidates at the event were Sen. Suleiman Hunkuyi of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Sen. Uba Sani of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Mr Isa Ashiru of the People Democratic Party (PDP) who joined virtually.

The candidates commit to addressing the issue of insecurity, agriculture, women and youth empowerment, workers welfare, pension, and education.