An environmentalist, Adetokunbo Ladega has said that despite generating highest internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in Nigeria, Lagos State still lacks the capacity to handle effects of adverse weather condition.
Ladega made the submission at a workshop bothering on preservation of the environment titled ‘Integrating ICT in Urban Transitions: Transforming Lagos To A Smart City.’ The event which held Friday at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos, attracted participants from the government and private sector.
A Climate-KIC powered event jointly organised by Green Women Fellowship, Environmental Law Research Institute, Green Impact & Development Initiative, Syspera, and Nature Cares.
Anchor of the event, Dr. Olufolahan Osunmuyiwa was passionate about Lagos emulating other cities across the world who are already smart cities.
“This project has held in other climes successfully, a lot of smart cities have evolved around the world and Nigeria should not be an exception,” she said, adding that, “Lagos has all it takes to be a smart city only if there is adequate collaboration between the government and the private sector with people passionate enough to conquer their environment.”
Osunmuyiwa, a renewable energy expert also said that, “The people must be engaged on caring for the environment without which there is certainly going to be chaos in a city surrounded by water.”
Ladega in his presentation wants Lagos State to achieve more than the status of the state generating highest IGR in Nigeria.
“I was imported into the country from the UK in the 60s as a child. I met Lagos as a city that was working, the environment was well preserved and I had no culture shock, everything was working,” he said.
“Having a state with the highest population and one with the highest IGR, a state that can run without the monthly federal allocation is commendable, but is that all there is to Lagos? He asked. “How about the city with the best urban space,” He queried further.
Taking a swipe at Lagos, Ladega who grew up in a Lagos with a friendly environment back in the 60s, said, “In the 60s, we could see the bottom of drainages, there were people even sweeping the drainages then and when it rained you could see a free flow of water.
“Today, Lagos is a unorganized, un-coordinated urban city which has swallowed up other towns. In those days, Oshodi was only a settlement outside Lagos, now Lagos is a chaotic sprawling urban mass, an accommodation of largely uncoordinated and unregulated self-help accommodation situations,” he lamented.
The architect and environmentalist also observed that due to recklessness of the people, the environmental problems facing the city is largely manmade. “Citizens do as they like, a building that should be a two floor can become four floors overnight. The most important thing is that regulatory policy discipline and enforcement of are foundation upon which sustainable city can be built,” he said.
He also noted that “Lagos lacks the capacity to handle the effects of adverse weather condition. The government and citizens must be in the planning monitoring solution implementation, monitoring facilities. It has to cascade down to communities, it has to monitor the effective reversal of environmental degradation activities.”
One of the panelists at the event, Ubong Kingsley Udoh, a cyber security specialist is of the opinion that data gathering is key in transforming any city to a smart city. He however bemoaned the Nigerian narrative where almost every development effort is politicized.
“The government in Nigeria has so much politicized issues. For instance we were supposed to have a census in 2016 but due to politics it didn’t happen and how do you solve problem when there is no data?” He asked, submitting that, “The idea of any city becoming a smart city must definitely involve a data driven effort.”
He continued that, “The government will have to do a whole lot in controlling urban sprawl. I always believed that the private sector can do a lot but I was wrong because it is actually the government in its policy making that can solve the problems but we see politics in everything.”
In his own submission, another panelist at the event, Segun Adaju told the participants that Nigeria has all it takes to generate her own energy without stress. According to him, “70% of the power generating set manufactured globally come to Nigeria. Meanwhile the waste we generate alone in Nigeria is more than enough to power Nigeria and Lagos generates more waste than any other state in Nigeria.”
Adaju, a solar energy expert also disclosed that “There is a plan to turn waste to energy in Makoko, Lagos. We are partnering with a German company to achieve this feat.”
Talking about the readiness of his company to create a smart village he reveled that “In Ghana, they are already talking about creating smart villages, even in Senegal they are planning. If Nigeria is not ready to build a smart city, I can move to my village in Kabba, Kogi State to build a smart village there,” he said.
While between 30 and 32kilometres of shoreline in Lagos State has been lost to the Atlantic over a period of 30 years according to experts from the Ministry of the Environment, panelists at the event are calling on Lagos State government to enforce the master plan of the city and reclaim the blocked drainages already encroached upon by influential residents.
A retired civil servant and a panelist at the event, Mrs. Oyebola Adetula however challenged the youths to take their destinies into their hands as far as the environment and total well-being are concerned. “I am happy there are students here today. What we do is engage the government, we don’t fight the government,” she said.
Adetula, 72, observed that social problems form the bedrock of the entire problems faced in Nigeria even as it concerns the environment.
“There are people now who drive on one way, there are commercial cyclists who ride unnumbered motorcycles. I can see anarchy and it is beginning from Lagos State,“ she warned. Continuing, the septuagenarian said, “The laws are there but nobody is enforcing them. The president or the governor may have good intentions and ideas but they can’t implement without the civil servants. It is the civil servants who are to implement but they are the major problems, I was there, I retired as a civil servant so I know what I am saying,” she said.