By Innocent Onoh
The Lagos State Government wants organisations, communities and individuals within the state to amplify awareness on ending illegal mining and dredging, deforestation, degradation of wetlands, among activities that destroy ecosystems across Lagos Metropolis.
State Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello made the call during the 2022 “Walk for Nature” rally in Surulere area of Lagos. Surulere is among locations in Lagos metropolis where the annual rally was held.
Bello who was represented by the Director Environmental Assessment in the ministry, said ,”protecting our environment should be our collective goal and not just the responsibility of the Government”.
Jointly organised by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) and Lagos State Government, with supports from partners including Ecobank and First Bank, the rally was to raise awareness on burning environmental problems and the need for people to take action towards nature conservation.
The exercise in Surulere, started at the Public Health Centre, Akerele Street, with participants wearing T-shirts bearing the inscription, “Only one Earth ”.
Dancing to tunes by a band group, they passed through major streets and connecting strategic locations including the National Stadium, Surulere before returning to base.
The Commissioner lamented destruction of the earth as a result of unfriendly environmental pratictices by people.
According to him, “The theme for this year, ONLY ONE EARTH is chosen to create more awareness on the importance of protecting nature and to remind us that we only have one habitable planet which is the earth.
“Regrettably,the reality on ground tells a troubling story. Unsustainable human activities and over-exploitation of species and natural resources are putting to peril the world’s biodiversity and ecosystem. Nearly a quarter of all species are presently at risk of getting extinct in the coming decades.
“It is important to note that humans have only been around for 200,000 years of the 4.5 billion years of the existence of planet earth,yet we have had a significant negative effect on the One earth more than any other species.
“Recently, in a 2018 report of the Worldwide Fund for Nature titled , OUR LIVING PLANET 2018, it was revealed that wildlife and species population decreased by 60% globally between 1970 and 2014
“We deplete the forest, overuse and degrade the water bodies,choke the oceans with plastic and push many species into extinction. The destruction of natural habitats to create farmland,over population, large scale development project, grazing and fuel-wood collection, mining,over exploitation, harmful subsidies, forest fires, hunting, poaching and illegal trafficking of animals and other species or animal part has led to wildlife losses.
“The Lagos State Government through the THEMES Agenda of the administration of Mr. Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-olu has been addressing some of these issues to ensure environmental sustainability.
“…In view of the above, protecting our environment should be our collective goal and not just the responsibility of the government. We must therefore ensure that all our efforts are geared at nurturing and protecting our planet earth.
“Consequently all organisations, communities and individuals within the State are encouraged to engage proactively in increasing awareness campaign through the WALK FOR NATURE PROGRAMME to prevent destruction of our natural habitat caused by illegal mining and dredging, deforestation, degradation of wetlands, indiscriminate dumping of refuse and other unfriendly environmental activities.
“I want to assure you that as a responsive Government with a plan for innovation, inclusiveness and efficiency, the state government will not relax on her plans and strategies to create and promote awareness on the adoption of Green and Blue Economy as natural capital are used sustainably for a vibrant Lagos”, Bello noted.
Mr. Bello appreciated the Nigerian Conservation Foundation and other partners for their supports and collaboration with the State in sustaining the rally which was in it’s 15th edition.
He said, “It gives me great pleasure to be in your midst this morning to join you in celebrating this 15th edition of the Annual Walk for Nature with the theme ,”Only one Earth.
“The third Saturday in October of every year has been set aside for the Annual Walk for Nature in order to raise awareness and consciousness on the protection of Nature.
“Fifteen years ago, that the first Annual Walk for Nature was birthed and has since become the usual practice of the State Government in collaboration with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation.
“The collaboration has in no small measure been Promoting environmental awareness and advocacy on conservation matters in the State, while showcasing the implication of excellent results of the state government in it’s environment policies and programmes”, Bello emphasised.
In his message the Director General of NCF, Dr. Joseph Onoja reiterated that attitudinal change in being friendly to nature and collective efforts all and sundry were earnestly required to redeem the earth.
Dr. Onoja who said that “there is hope for us if we work together to rescue the mother Earth”, observed that this year’s Walk for Nature recorded huge success as more areas were covered and more people Sensitized.
Represented by Adedayo Mahmud ,acting Director Technical Programmes at NCF ,he commended the Lagos State government through the ministry of environment for continued collaboration to sustain the Programme. Dr. Onoja also accorded special recognition to other partners including Ecobank,the media and students describing them as pillars of support.
He said, “Our planet earth is faced with lots of challenges, biodiversity loss and others. We all belong to the same earth. The solution resides with each and everyone of us. This will go a long way in solving our collective challenge”.
Chairman Surulere LGA was represented at the occasion by his vice ,Prince Muize Dosunmu ,while Mr. Omobolaji Gaji, Permanent Secretary Lagos State Ministry Of The Environment and Water Resources was also represented.
A number of school children from secondary schools across Lagos Metropolis took part in the three hours walk that ended peacefully.