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PREPARING FOR THE COMING HEAVY RAINS

By NBF News
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WHEN the heavy rains descend upon us later this year, nobody can say he or she was not warned enough. On February 13th 2012, Mother Nature herself fired a warning shot through a powerful flash storm that devastated parts of Lagos within a matter of minutes as workers, traders and school pupils hit the roads for the day's activities.

This time, it was a storm palaver. On July 10th 2011, the natural hazard came in form of floods consequent upon sustained heavy downpours.

It is no longer a myth. It is here for real. The climate is changing in tune with global warming. It is only February, and yet it feels like the middle of the rainy season.

The Nigerian Metrological Agency (NIMET) has issued several warnings that the rains this year will create problems for the unwary and careless. The Lagos State Government (LASG) from its Commissioner for the Environment, Tunji Bello, to the Governor, Babatunde Fashola, has been on a public enlightenment trail, calling on residents of the commercial capital of Nigeria to get ready.

In fact, on February 15th, 2012, the state government staged a Town Hall meeting at the People's Club, Surulere to canvass greater citizen awareness. And in line with its Zero Tolerance policy on environmental abuses, the government has had to close the Mile 12 and Oja Oba, Abule Egba Markets over poor sanitary conditions.

The Lagos State Government under Fashola is one of the regimes around the country that have taken environmental issues very seriously. In a single-minded drive to reverse the rot of a failing mega city, the last five years have seen the transformation of many dangerous spots, especially Oshodi. Many open spaces have been reclaimed and beautified with ornamental grasses and flowers.

However, the state government has not succeeded in securing the partnership of other stakeholders in the drive for a dream mega city Lagos: the federal government and the residents. The situation has not been helped by the unabated political differences between the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)-controlled Lagos State Government and the People's Democratic Party (PDP)-controlled Federal Government.

The upshot is that most of the areas in the metropolis that are behind in terms of sanitation, infrastructure, prone to flooding and general environmental defaults are zones mostly under federal control. This is unfortunate. The two tiers of government have not been able to know where to draw the line between politics and partnership for the greatest good of the people.

Secondly, in spite of the spirited efforts of the state government, the residents have not done their part, at least, not enough. People must stop the bad habit of building indiscriminately and blocking the drains with rubbish. Even when they remove the rubbish from the drains more effort must be made to evacuate them. Residents hardly participate in the monthly environmental sanitation exercises. Traders must participate more in the weekly compulsory sanitation exercises to keep their markets clean.

We hereby urge the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government to put aside their political differences and partner to uplift the nation's former capital. The people must also play their roles.

Let us bear this in mind: nature DOES fight back!