One critical sector of the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led Lagos state administration that got the needed nod for timely intervention is that of Environmental Protection. It would recalled that soon after assumption of office, the affable governor signed an Executive Order, with the salutary aim to tackle headlong the hitherto seemingly intractable issue of poor sanitation and see to the cleaning of drainages across the state.
This singular decision and the attendant action, so far show the leadership quality of one with the capacity to identify and prioritize the most pressing needs of the people in the state.And act on them, promptly too. Good enough, this falls in tandem with the governor’s THEMES Agenda as the six pillars of development. In broad perspective they encapsulate Traffic Management and Transportation; Health and Environment; Education and Technology; with the beautiful goal of making Lagos a 21st Century state.
If sustained, Lagos will within a decade or less rank as one of the cleanest cities in the world; to rub shoulders with Calgary(Canada), Zurich(Switzerland), Adelaide(Australia) and Kobe(Japan).Such a feat would of course, make it become the honeycomb for the bees of top-notch investors from all over the globe. Let it be noted that cleanliness of a city is rated as one of the measuring meters for attracting industrialists and multi-national companies from more advanced countries of the world.
Before you laugh it off as one huge joke, we should understand the fact thatall it takes are the political will, a well envisioned master plan, mass enlightenment on the dangers of indiscriminate waste dumping and clogging of gutters with all manner of refuse, punishment for offenders of extant laws and the cooperation of all and sundry-including residents and visitors alike.
And to succeed, we must all come to terms with the harsh and bitter truth that Lagos is an aquatic state, sharing boundary with the vast Atlantic Ocean and therefore, susceptible to seasonal flooding. Besides, it is a transit point, with both air and sea ports, having a compelling attraction as the country’s economic hub for job-seekers, artisans, serious-minded entrepreneurs, dreamers and entertainers alike.
The scenario is compounded by the influx of not a few young citizens from up north, running away from the swarm of killer herdsmen, bandits and terrorists. They all see Lagos as a smiling hostess, with her arms widely open,to embrace them and soothe their tastes as truck pushers, shoe repairers and okada riders. One can therefore, only imagine the deluge of daily wastes from the good old Lagosians.
Well aware of these challenges the government has in place the “Lagos-at-4 am” operation.This proactive policy guarantees that wastes are evacuated and got off the busy streets in the wee hours of the day.This is also in sync with best international practices on environmental sanitation, especially in the aforementioned cleanest cities.
Applying modern methods of cleaning up the city is the introduction of waste sorting for households, in addition to giving residents bags for bottles, kitchen wastes and other items.According to the Managing Director of the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin, it has become imperative for the residents to imbibe the culture of waste sorting at source. This is done by dropping all recyclable items in one bag and other waste items in another. This comes on the heels of the recently launched Blue Box Program of the state government.It also falls in tandem with the promotion of 3 ‘R’ principles of -Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Brilliant, isnt it? Yet, there is more to be done on public enlightenment with regards to sustainable environmental sanitaion in the state.
The significant issue of tree planting for a greener environment in the face of escalating heat waves, courtesy of global warming should be taught and made compulsory in institutions of learning-both public and private- right from the primary school level. Trees absorb the carbon-dioxide emitted by human beings and other animals into the atmosphere. They, in return provide the air with the oxygen gas that we breathe in for survival. They assist to reduce the erosion menace even as they act as windbreakers to check the violent windstorms.What more, they cleanse the air of different pollutants as well as enhancing the beauty and aesthetics that soothe the stressed souls and calm frayed nerves.
Infact, one would suggest an annual essay competition attracting scholarships to be awarded to the deserving winners on the World Clean Up day every September. This could do the magic.
As the Managing Director of LAWMA, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin reiterated in the 2019 edition, “The World Cleanup Day is a global social action program aimed at combating the global solid waste problem. This is good a platform to remind our people of the negative consequences of indiscriminate waste dumping, which affects not only the environment, but the people that live in it”.
Another pragmatic strategy that should be sustained is the synergy between PSP operators and the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).The latter is working concertedly to collaborate with PSP operators by encouraging them to re-invest in the business.The effect of such confidence-boosting mechanism is visible in the cleaner streets, devoid of sundry refuse dumps.
Kudos therefore, goes to the state for the establishment of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) as the environmental regulator. This environmental objective is in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Section II, 20 which states that “The State shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wild life of Nigeria”
LASEPA also assists public and private organizations, industries, businesses and non-governmental organizations to achieve compliance by providing environment- friendly solutions to varied environmental challenges.The Agency warehouses and interprets the data of all water bodies in the State as well as the regular monitoring of the quality of underground water. Similarly, the quality of potable water from the packaged water industry is constantly under view.
Dear reader, the telling effects of Climate Change and the attendant freaky weather conditions of extreme heat from the more exposed sunrays with the fast-thinning ozone layer caused by Global Warming are here with us. We still use fossil fuel cars and continue to emit gases from factories that add to the global warming. We fell trees but hardly plant new ones.
Our political leaders attend all manner of international conferences that point at the dangers posed by the rise in the ocean tides, the thawing of snow right from the Arctic.They are often told that increasing heat from the atmosphere that has led to desertification is currently sweeping southwards in Nigeria. They sign agreements to abide by global protocols but end up only on papers. In some instances, ecological funds have become channels to pilfer public till.
The message here therefore, is that we all should become active participants in the daily cleanup of our environment, to protect our health and wealth. This explains why other states should take a timely cue from the Centre of Excellence.