WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY: LAGOS UNVEILS RESTORED, REGENERATED GARDEN AT LEKKI
Lagos State Government, on Saturday, unveiled a restored and regenerated Garden along the Lekki-Epe Expressway measuring approximately 17,256 square metres as part of the Y2021 World Environment Day celebrations, just as it hinted of plans to restore and beautify the setback along the Abraham Adesanya Estate, Ajah, down to Sangotedo. Speaking at the event, the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, explained that the regenerated space was previously characterised by heavy unauthorised trading and artisanal activities, vagrants, unlawful waste disposal and clogging of the drainage that captures rain water run-off from the expressway. He noted that the space also served as hideout for perpetrators of nefarious activities and a security risk to motorists, pedestrians and the immediate community before it was cleared of illegal occupants and handed over to the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK) for the development, which birthed the ‘urban forest’ concept. The Commissioner stated that the World Environment Day celebration provides an avenue for Nigeria to join the rest of the world in recognising the need to massively accelerate global restoration of degraded ecosystems, fight the climate heating crisis, enhance food security and protect biodiversity. “You will agree with me that Lagos State has witnessed tremendous social and economic development but that had also brought adverse negative impacts on the environment. We have chopped down forests, ploughed the grasslands, slaughtered wildlife, filled in wetlands and polluted air and water”, he enthused. While explaining that the causes of degradation are many, varied and can have an impact at different scales on the ecosystems to breaking point, the Commissioner called for joint effort towards restoration of the ecosystem by growing more diverse crops and trees to rebuild carbon stores in soils and make them more fertile to feed the growing population. His words: “Humans can help rebound shrub-lands and grasslands by clearing woody vegetation and re-seeding native grasses, lost plants and animals can be re-introduced and protected”. He said further that the ecosystem also helps to regulate disease and reduce the risk of natural disasters, adding that its restoration can help achieve all of the State’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Bello reiterated the urgent need to respond to the call for action that would last a decade to restore the ecosystem and combat the unsustainable consumption of natural resources. “This forum is a clarion call to all and sundry to join the State Government in the fight against environmental degradation and pollution. In as much as it would be difficult for Lagos to close her borders to economic migrants, it is important that all hands are on deck to ensure the sustainable use of our natural resources”, the Commissioner implored. Earlier in his welcome address, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Drainage and Water Resources, Engr. Joe Igbokwe, said safeguarding the environment is a collective responsibility of both the citizens and the government. He, therefore, encouraged everyone as well as stakeholders in the environment to appreciate the importance and beauty of nature and act on the call to protect it always. Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Mrs. Ronke Odeneye, enjoined the people of Lagos to support government's efforts by ensuring the regular cleaning of their environment for healthy living. She urged the residents to desist from the act of indiscriminate dumping of refuse in drainages, roads and other unauthorised places. In his goodwill message, the founder of Lekki Urban Forest and Animal Shelter Initiative (LUFASI), Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, applauded the efforts of Lagos State Government in its restoration of the garden. His view was echoed by Temitope Okunnu of Foundation for a Better Environment (FABE), who enjoined everyone to adopt tree planting as a way of life.