A researcher and expert on population issues, Dr. Babatola Olatunji, has said if the population growth of Lagos State is not checked, there can be a collapse of developmental structures in the state.
Olatunji, a senior lecturer in the Department of Geography, University of Lagos, also condemned government’s carefree attitude towards companies in the mining industry, which he accused of abusing the environment in order to cut cost.
He made the statements in Lagos while addressing some secondary school students drawn from 15 schools in the Bariga area of the state in a debate cum essay competition.
Olatunji said, “Rapid growth is having an effect on Lagos and if this is allowed to continue, the result may be unpredictable.
“What government has to do is to enhance monitoring; they should not allow the state to grow without adequate supervision. Government should be able to see ahead and know places where population will move to because of development. The places that are slums now were never like that before. Having a proactive policy will save us a lot of stress.”
The don said the government was complicit in the degradation of the environment through encouragement of corrupt practices.
“Government appears to be lackadaisical in its attitude towards the environment and those who are supposed to supervise are corrupt. Because of these, those in the extractive industry try the shortcut that will increase profit. The present generation suffers little, but the coming generation will suffer more,” he added.
He said through environmental processes, objects carelessly thrown into water or dropped by the roadside could travel far and hamper the health of many.
Olatunji therefore advised the youths to take good care of their environment, knowing that their actions had repercussions on others.
The Programme Coordinator of Bariga Development Community Association, Emmanuel Chidiebere, said aside the educational value of the programme, it was also to sensitise the students and make them “Environmental Vanguards.”
He said, “We are reaching the grassroots, the vulnerable, women and children in the society. Our participants are going out with that mind that they are ambassadors for the environment. We will have an induction for some of the students, who we have called Environmental Vanguards. Ours is to mentor them on how to be effective in the assignment.”