Lagos: The environment challenge By Louis Odion, FNGE

Fuji Music Lord, King Waiu Ayinde Marshal… One of the Lagos Mega City Ambassadors

At the inauguration of Professor Pat Utomi, desert-conquering Newton Jibunoh; ace musicians Lagbaja and Wasiu Ayinde Marshal (KWAM 1) and this writer as Lagos State Ambassadors of Environment
in 2009 at a solemn ceremony at the Government House, then Governor Babatunde Fashola, SAN was specific in his expectation.
He was enlisting us to use our
various platforms and talents in helping the emerging mega city spread the
gospel of safe and clean environment against the creeping ravages of climate
change.

Ex-Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu…Started it all
Of course, in the intervening years,
we became part of a coordinated campaign of aggressive tree-planting, talks and
road-shows across the state. The reclamation and transformation of key Lagos
highways and neighborhoods to flower beds was a bye-product of that initiative.
Clampdown on noise pollution was sustained.
Eight years on, what could be
described as the next Big Bang unfolded last week with the unveiling of an
environment master-plan by resourceful Governor
Akinwunmi Ambode
. It is cemented by a new law, the Environmental Management and
Protection Act.

The Author, Louis Odion FNGE….Was equally an ambassador of BRF’s Green Lagos initiative

The highlights include the
re-designation of the enforcement unit, Kick
Against
Indiscipline (KAI),
created by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in
2003 as the Environmental Sanitation Corp Agency (LASECORPS) and
an action plan outlining a more intimate engagement of the population in waste
management. Not less than fresh 27,500
jobs are underway as sanitary inspectors with pensionable career prospects.
At tenement level, there is now a
stricter control of the digging of boreholes. Prohibition of  production of chemicals, lubricants, petroleum
products, gases, quarry etc in a residential areas.

BRF…Ignited the Lagos Green Revolution Project

To actualize the ambitious vision, Ambode is engaging a waste management
company called Visionscape whose impressive testimonial includes Dubai, the preferred destination of many
Nigerian tourists.
Indeed, with massive influx daily of
fortune-seekers from across the country, Lagos
clearly poses a huge existential nightmare. With estimated population of over
20m, it generates a whopping 10,000 metric tones of waste daily. Since
population only moves up, things will only get more desperate. In another
decade, it is estimated Lagos,
presently the 24th most populous in the world, would have moved further up the
ladder.

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode…Taking Lagos to the Next Level from where BRF finished

Well, the closest many of us see or
feel the perennial environment headache is perhaps often not more than the
unsightly accumulation of refuse by the roadside. But far more grave harm is
done public health daily by the toxic fumes from smoky vehicles trapped in
traffic snarls for long hours. To say nothing of noxious smoke from the daily
parades of generating sets in both commercial and residential neighborhoods as
people resort to self-help for energy.
No less understated is the
incalculable damage inflicted on the environment and public health through the
indiscriminate dumping of industrial waste and contamination of the waterways
with the offloading of toxic effluent by unscrupulous corporate players.
The good news is that the new law
clearly identifies this as clear and present danger and prescribes harsh
penalties for defaulters.
One can only hope that Governor Ambode also pursues the new
initiative with the same tenacity shown in all endeavors since he took over
twenty-two months ago in Lagos. We
saw that yield LAKE Rice last
December. A partnership with Kebbi
State earlier in the year brought a bumper harvest of rice during the last Yuletide season.
Indeed, the rest of the nation looks
to Lagos to lead the way in matters
like this. Waste management strategy devised during the Tinubu administration in 2000 is easily acknowledged as later
providing the template of environmental control strategies adopted in other
states across the country. Just as many have set up units patterned after KAI as enforcer in their respective
jurisdictions.

A Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) Mobile Court

Once Lagos gets it right here other states will take a cue. But were Lagos to deliver and others fail, the
full benefits will be lost. For Lagos
cannot be an island. The full impact of this initiative will only manifest when
other states – particularly the neighboring ones – also sanitize their closets.

Ambode….Inspires Lagos…

Overall, let it however be noted
that the future will hardly be shaped only by devising more efficient strategy
to manage waste in Africa’s foremost megacity, but perfecting means to convert
waste to wealth ultimately. We saw that happened two years ago in the United States when the acclaimed world’s
richest man, Bill Gates, gulped down a glass of water
filtrated from a common septic tank! Our refuse dumps are waiting to be turned
a cheap source of manure. Heat from the gigantic dump-sites that dot the mega
city can generate electricity.
Ambode can inspire Lagos
to do it.

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