Low income earners in the country are likely to continue to suffer more consequences of poor living conditions such as inadequate housing on marginal sites, water and sanitation challenges poor solid waste management and ill health.
A Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, Professor Olumuyiwa Akinbamijo gave the warning while delivering the 115th Inaugural Lecture of the Federal University of Technology, Akure on Tuesday October 8, 2019.
He said unbridled rural–urban migration has turned core cities in Nigeria to breeding grounds of huge slums with increased exposure to communicable diseases. He said the combined influence of poverty and rapid urbanization and penchant for and exposure to ICT gadgets have dire consequences for the environment and the people living in rural and urban centres.
Professor Akinbamijo who spoke on the topic ,”Beloved , We are Debtors…A Treatise on Environmental Management” gave the example of Somolu Local Government in Lagos to buttress his point.
Professor Akinbamijo said the area is plagued with shortage of adequate housing, poor solid waste management, irregular water supply, poor electricity, poor roads and other indices of urban squalor. He said like in most unplanned urban cities in Nigeria, waste collection and management which is often seen as a constitutional responsibility of the local government has failed in many respect with regular indiscriminate dumping of refuse all over the residential areas with no one in particular to evacuate the waste. He said like in Somolu the core areas of Nigerian cities reveal “intra urban dimension of urban deprivation and environmental injustice that heavily predisposes residents to ill heath”.
He said government can encourage people to live in rural areas and minimize the drift to urban centres. This can be done through a two way intervention involving governmental and non-governmental intervention. He said Government should look at ways of promoting access to land, housing and employment from regional perspectives while providing employment opportunities, education, health care, welfare and other facilities in rural areas to reduce the disparity between the rural and urban areas.
“Government should enact policies that will boost local enterprises and economic initiatives in rural communities to strengthen agribusiness and rural agro based manufacturing,” Professor Akinbamijo said. For the urban areas , Akinbamijo said public goods such as adequate water provision in quality and quantity; quality educational facilities, functional sanitation, sewers and solid management need to be provided , while existing environmental agencies must be empowered to perform effectively and extant laws and regulations given the bite and policy agencies strengthened to deliver on their mandates.
From a global perspective ,Professor Akinbamijo warned that environmental resources will be unavailable for the coming generation if strategies are not mapped out to stop the over exploitation of earth’s resources. He also called for the adoption of sustainable practices that will replenish and conserve depleted resources across space and culture.
The don said the complete disregard for nature and the apparent carefree behavior being portrayed by man is at best self-destructive. He said “we cannot continue to operate as if there is a limitless global resource to support life on earth. The reckless abandon of responsible resource husbandry is at humanity’s peril as well as our co-workers of the abused garden called earth. This is critical if the planet is to remain a support system and not a chain on the dwellers”.
He outlined associated environmental issues that must be addressed with a sense of urgency to include Global warning, Deforestation, Pollution, rapid urbanization, waste management and communicable diseases.
Akinbamijo said “a basic human right is man’s right to a safe and healthy environment. This is more so the case, since human beings depend on the environment for sustenance. Without a healthy environment, we are unable to fulfil our aspirations or even live at a level commensurate with minimum standards of human.
In his remarks at the occasion, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape represented by Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Philips Oguntunde described the lecturer as an erudite scholar and an administrator per excellence who has provided excellent academic leadership leading his department, to be one of the best in Nigeria.