Lagos Is Ahead Of Best Environment Practices, Says Fashola
Jun 5, 2009 - As Nigeria Friday joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Environment Day, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has said that Lagos is ahead of best practices in the Environment across the globe.
Highlight of the occasion was the award of Environmental Ambassador and Environmental Ambassador Emeritus to 20 distinguished Lagosians, including the First Lady, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola and her predecessor, Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu who bagged Environmental Ambassador Emeritus, as well as environmentalists, professionals and artistes.
Speaking at the Eko FM Multi-purpose Hall, Broadcasting House, Ikeja, venue of this year’s celebration for the State, Governor Fashola declared, “If we benchmark what we have done in the last two years in the area of the environment with what is going on around the world, if we are not equal to best practices, you will find that Lagos is already ahead of best practices across the globe”.
Citing instances to buttress his point, the Governor explained, “In 2007 when we started, we said we were going to create a lot of Greenery and plant a lot of trees. By the time it was World Environment Day, the theme chosen by the United Nations was Greening and Reducing CO2 Emissions. It means we have taken the first step before the United Nations said this is what the world should do”.
“But we didn’t stop there. Immediately we finished that, we sat down and realized that a few thousands of us in the Public Service would never solve the environmental problems; and we realized that the best way to do it was advocacy. It was the strongest weapon that we need to get a lot of people, millions of Lagosians, millions of Nigerians who are not only aware of the danger, but are ready to roll up their sleeves to do something to mitigate it.
“And, of course, we started Climate Change Clubs, we started with our students in the schools, we started with so many other awareness programmes. We held an Environmental Summit. And lo and behold, as we were thinking of getting many of you, particularly our opinion leaders and those of you whose voices are respected, to join us lending a voice, the United Nations again came up with the theme for this year, “Your Environment Needs You, Everybody should Get Involved”, the Governor said adding, “So that is why I said that if we are not equal to best practice, we certainly would be ahead, but we are not behind”.
Reiterating that continued flooding in some parts of the State does not mean that Government has failed, Governor Fashola explained that what is happing is nature taking its course, adding that all that the Government is doing is to ameliorate the effect.
“For the last six months, we did not talk about flood; we were in the Dry Season. We are now in the Rainy Season and, therefore, other challenges will come for the next few months. So, whenever we see flood, it is not because Government is not doing anything. It is because, sadly, this is nature, God’s work and, therefore, we must do our best to co-exist with nature”, the Governor said.
Governor Fashola lamented that although those who built those flood-prone areas like Surulere and others, also built drainages to allow the water to go, the residents of these areas have built on the drainages, obstructed the water by dumping refuse into the drainages, adding, “But we complain when rain comes, that water has entered our homes”.
“We did not choose to be here. Our founding fathers thought that this was a place to settle, by the Ocean and by the lagoons. And when nature takes its course, river banks will overflow from time to time. The Atlantic will overflow from time to time. The only thing Mr. Banire and I and all of us can do is to see what within ourselves we could have done better so that we are not adversely affected”, he said.
Commenting on the recipients of the Government awards which also include Professor Pat Utomi, famous Environmentalist Newton Jibuno, Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji, who also bagged Environmental Ambassadors Emeritus, Governor Fashola, who said the Government’s choice required no further justification, described the awardees as men and women who have distinguished themselves, social crusaders, people who will stand up when everybody else is afraid to say so, adding, “I think the larger the number we have of this kind of men and women assisting with our environment crusade, the more successful our initiative will be”.
Noting that something remarkable is going on in the public schools, Governor Fashola commended the Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Muiz Banire and the teachers, including the tutors general, the principals and vice principals and the students for the great awareness being created about the environment across the State.
He also acknowledged what he called an unsolicited but very inspiring contribution made by the great musician “Lagbaja” who, according to him, used one of his latest albums to launch himself into the campaign for environmental cleanliness in the State.
Thanking the music maestro, who also bagged the Environmental Ambassador Award, for “this contribution made without any prompting from us”, Governor Fashola said, “I believe that this kind of message coming from such an icon means that our message has reached him. It also means that as a social engineer, he has moved to action by using his talent and his vocation to pass on the message”.
Others honoured at the occasion were Alhaji (chief) Wasiu Atanda Balogun, Dr. Sunday Adeniji Isola Adegeye (A.K.A. King Sunny Ade), Imam Abdul Rahman Ahmad, and Elder Statesman, Alhaji Femi Okunnu who all bagged Environmental Ambassador Emeritus Award, while Mrs. Okunola Ramdat Fehintola, Mrs Gbemisola Laulat Tejuosho, Mr. Louis Odion, Prince Babajide Kosoko, Mrs. Lanre Hassan Adesina (Madam Awero), King (Dr) Wasiu Ayinde Marshal, Olorogun John Odafe Aseimo (Daddy Shokey), Abolore Akande and Omowunmi Akinnifesi were honour with the Environmental Ambassador Award.
Expressing appreciation to the Governor and Government of Lagos State for the honour, Alhjaji Femi Okunnu, who spoke on behalf of the other awardees, urged the Governor to continue in his good works saying, “You are working to increase the life span of our people, the citizens of Lagos State”.
He said the award does not restrict the work of environmental cleanliness and advocacy to them alone pointing out that everybody is an environmental ambassador. He advised Lagosian to embrace the initiative of the present administration saying, “It is for us now to accept the challenge and keep our environment clean”
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Muiz Banire said this year’s World Environment Day celebration was advocacy based saying it has been the practice of the State Government to educate the public on the need to stop further abuse of the environment and enlighten them on the consequences of their unwholesome attitudes towards the environment.