Friday, 10 March 2017

Lagos: The environment challenge By Louis Odion, FNGE

By on 21:45
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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.

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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