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Sanwo-Olu warns against impact of population expulsion, open defecation on environment

Geoffrey Ignace mwijage

Jan. 16, 2020

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State, has raised alarm over the negative impact of the increasing number of Nigerian population as well as effect of other man-made activities such as open defecation on the environment.
Sanwo-Olu, who registered this concern in Lagos on Wednesday at the 18 th edition of Chief S.L.Edu Memorial Lecture held with the theme, ‘The Role of traditional Leaders in Protecting and Restoring the Nigerian Environment,’ said the bigger challenge for Nigeria and the whole of Africa, was how to manage the growing population.
According to him, African population is jumping massively and by 2050, it was estimated that African population would become about 4 billion while population of other continents like Europe, Asia and America are declining.
Represented by Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, deputy governor of the state, Sanwo-Olu stated that the landmass of Nigeria is about 923,707sqkm, but the livable part of that landmass is reducing due to erosion, flood, disaster encroachment and others.
“In the 70s, Lake Chad was predominantly bordered by four countries including Nigeria, Cameroun, Niger and Chad. The surface of the water was 26,000sqkms while the depth was about 11 meters severing close to 40 million people. Today, the same water is 1,350sqkms which is a reduction of about 14,000 percentages. The tragedy was that the population in that locality had now increased,” he stated while citing example of the role of population explosion on environmental degradation.
Emphasising on the need for Nigeria and the whole of Africa to begin to find solution to the explosive population, he noted that if left unaddressed, the situation would get to the point that it would become difficult for Africans to sustain themselves.
“Our living standards are crashing and people are dying over environmental catastrophes. The resources are shrinking so rapidly. We must identify our focus to know if it is about having people or development just like in the other parts of the world,” he said.
He however raised alarm over the increasing number of open defecation and poor sanitation in Lagos state, stating that there must be a paradigm shift, if we must leave a sustainable life. “Open defecation is now massive in Lagos and it is not acceptable because it is recipe for disaster.”
“What is important is advocacy for people to begin to understand what the challenges are. We are having environmental courses even in our primary schools to let the children know what is right to do in order to save the environment. We talked about recycling to convert the plastics into something else because it is not biodegradable,” he added.
Earlier in his lecture, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, Sultan of Sokoto, guest lecturer, stated that the reality of climate change is now here with us as it had been established that 2016 and 2019 were two hottest years of our lives and we must deal with the changes in order to survive.
Abubakar called for three action plans including having a paradigm shift from the usual, a clear political will to deal with issues that degrade Nigerian environment as well as monitoring and evaluating policies put in place to save the environment.
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