It is no news that different parts of Nigeria combat varying degrees of environmental challenges, such as coastal flooding and erosion, (mostly in the southern cities of Lagos and Ibadan), massive gullies and land slide (notably in Anambra),surging desertification around the sudano-sahelian region of northern Nigeria and oil and gas related environmental degradation in the Niger Delta region. These environmental issues no doubt pose a great threat to Nigeria’s economic, social and political functioning as a corporate entity.
Having said that, it is important to also note that government, especially at the federal level, do recognize the potency of these threats which has led to the establishment of a ministry of environment with some allied parastatals and agencies; all saddled with the responsibility of preserving our environment. Similarly, provision of ecological fund to states by the federal government, seems to be another avenue for promoting local initiatives for solving peculiar environmental problems at the state level.
In Lagos state, the local authority has in the last four years committed its resources to massive campaign on ‘going green’. The tree-planting and beautification project has gained so much momentum and publicity among residents of the state. In fact, it has become a punishable offence to destroy lawns or encroach on ‘green areas’ in Lagos state. The establishment of climate change club in model secondary schools in the state is another novelty that is aimed at early sensitization and integration of children and youth in environmental protection.
The idea of tree planting has become more of national campaign – with of course it’s numerous benefits of trapping excess carbon- responsible for global warming -and sustaining our micro-climate. Nigeria's forests, which currently extend over 9.6 million hectares, have been dwindling rapidly over the past decades. The current deforestation rate is estimated at 3.7%, which is one of the highest in the world. This underlines our contribution to the global emission of carbon through deforestation. It is a dangerous trend that must be stopped if we must guarantee a safe future for the next generation.
While I admit to the use of the abundant diverse resources in our forest, it is crucial to also emphasize the need for a sustainable approach in its exploration. That has been the crux of the matter. It seems we never got it right, for so long we have ‘maligned and cheated’ the environment. We pulled down the trees, cleared the shrubs and exposed the soil surface to run-offs, we ‘cracked –off’ the protective seal of the Ozone to the blistering ultra-violet rays from the sun. We have indeed encroached our bounds and we have provoked Mother Nature. It seems we are ‘paying for the sins of our fathers’!
It is not a war, neither are we at conflict with the environment we live in. it is simply the act of balancing, structural and sustainable balancing that guarantees a livable world for us and the future of our children. Our concern cannot be limited to going green; which of course is one of the vital steps to re-writing our ‘wrongs’, but in clarity there must be conscious steps by individuals, communities, organized groups and government to promote positive attitudes towards the use of environmental resources.
It is not enough to plant trees, not just going green but we must go beyond it!
Going beyond green is rather a micro-scale approach that encompasses a wide range of issues; it talks about waste management, pollution, sustainable agricultural practice, green economy, livestock management, among others. It requires a holistic understanding of these key areas and how our lives can be shaped round a sustainable framework that guarantees respect for the use of these resources.