It is very necessary for man to take adequate care of his environment because he cannot be separated from his environment as he is constantly in touch with his abode.
Even in Dark Age Africa, man was conscious of his environment and was therefore guided by the principles of environmental protection in all his dealings, though at primitive level. Still in this modern time, priority is given to man’s environment because almost all behavioural pattern of man could be traced to the influence of the environment in which he finds himself.
Because of the seriousness attached to environmental protection, governments, corporate organizations, Non Governmental Organizations, (NGOs} and individuals budget funds each year to take care of our environment through deliberate, planned and sustained programmes, all aimed at safe-guarding our environment from destruction.
In our country Nigeria, we are learning gradually from advanced nations on the issue of environmental protection. For instance, the Federal Government set up the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, (FEPA), and also mandated each state to establish states environmental protection agencies to safeguard their environments. Besides both the federal and state governments have ministries of environments, with the local governments having environment out posts intended to ensure that the environment is protected.
Also there are various NGOs like the Nigeria Environmental Society,(NES), the Nigeria Conservation Fund, (NCF), among others who are involved in one form of activity or the other just to make sure our environment do not suffer negligence and destructions.
Surprisingly, despite these efforts to protect our environment, there are still various forms of environmental pollution and degradation which are hazardous to human health through an environment that has been endangered. As Mr. Osita Okeke, an environmentalist said, “The whole environment of man is his life for there lays his nature and the engine room of his behavioral pattern. A man’s environment to some extent determines his success or failure in life.”
In Lagos, which is my primary focus on environmental degradation, I went out to see how the environment is being polluted by some residents despite all efforts by government, NGOs and individuals to keep the environment clean and safe for human beings. It is important to acknowledge that during the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as governor of Lagos State between 1999-2007, he was determined to ensure a safe environment by establishing the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) whose responsibility among others was to evacuate refuse and transport them to designated dump sites located within and outside the city for disposal.
To assist in refuse disposing, the Lagos State Government bought some refuse disposing trucks for LAWMA to enable them discharge their duties without much hindrance. Later, the government decided to involve the private sector in disposing refuse through a scheme tagged Private Sector Participation,(PSP), where private entrepreneurs who own heavy duty trucks were engaged to transport refuse to designated sites at agreed fees which the government pays to them at the end of the month. This scheme was meant to assist the state dispose refuse properly when pressure started mounting on government’s limited disposing trucks.
Still moving towards a cleaner and safer environment, the Lagos State Government set aside the last Saturday of every month as a day for compulsory sanitation exercise from 7.00 to 10.00am. During this period, movement was usually restricted by both vehicles and pedestrians, as only those on essential duties like security operatives, medical personnel, refuse disposing staff and journalists monitoring the exercise were allowed passage during the clean-up.
Also, to make the various markets in Lagos and its environments very neat, the government in its wisdom set aside Thursday in every week for traders in the markets where a lot of refuse and wastes are generated to clear them up equally between 7.00 to 10.00am.
During this period, no shop must open as persons who contravened this exercise are supposed to be arrested, taken to special court for environmental offences, tried and convicted appropriately, if found guilty by the state laws. Despite these efforts by the state to ensure a safe environment, I discovered that Lagos residents with knowledge and in ignorance pollute the environment without knowing that they are jeopardizing their future and that of generation unborn.
A Lagos resident, Mr. Deji Olawale, who is also an environmentalist stated that environment anywhere could be polluted through the land, sea or air, as he further explained that, “No level of environmental pollution is healthy for human beings for even the smallest quantum of pollution could claim lives if not detected and managed on time.”
For purpose of clarity, this issue of pollution of our environment shall be looked at under the following headings: land, sea, air and noise pollution. In some parts of Lagos metropolis and suburbs, the pollution the land areas suffer in the hands of unconcerned and careless individuals is immeasurable.
Investigation shows that 70 per cent of pollution is caused by the inhabitants themselves who either consciously or otherwise contributes in degrading their environment to the detriment of their health.
A resident of Bariga area in Lagos which ranks among the most polluted area in Lagos State, Miss Toyin Orebiyi said that, “The commonest and most irritating aspect of pollution is exhibition of human wastes in face- to- face houses (one-two rooms’ apartments) where there is population density with the toilet facilities over- stretched.”
She said some residents sleep in their houses with plastic or metal containers which they excrete and urinate into throughout the night, only to carelessly dispose the contents of those containers in a manner that flies now converge on the various unwashed containers, distributing diseases around the house and perhaps beyond.
When I visited Bariga area it was discovered that in this 21st Century, many houses in that area are still using pit toilets, while some are unbelievably using the crude and unhygienic bucket system, which is capable of causing epidemic like cholera and diarrhea, due to the level of exposure to various germs. I discovered that the streets most guilty of these ancient methods of convenience are Olowolagba, Keke and Opeloyeru.In most houses on those streets, there are no modern rest rooms as all I saw was the cude methods of pit and bucket toilets which some of the tenants vowed not to use.
According to one of the tenants who agreed to speak to me on the condition of unanimity to avert the wrath of his landlord who he said will surely give him quit notice if he discovers that he granted an interview to run him down,
“My landlord and indeed most landlords involved in the usage of the unhygienic system of toilets are to be blamed for the pollution of our environment.
Some of these landlords collected money up to three times, all in the name of upgrading the toilet facilities only to misuse the funds and therefore the tenants became tired of contributing money that will not be deployed to the actual use.” I found out that one of the landlords in question after collecting the money meant to provide water system toilets for his tenants diverted the money to mark the naming ceremony of his child from his mistress, while his helpless tenants continue to lick their wounds.