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SUNDAY PUNCH (Sep 8, 2002)

By Taiwo Ogunlade

Ranti Akerele, Chief of Protocol, Ondo state
I want to consider Nigeria as a country that engages in a lot of waste. I see it from two perspectives. One, I look at it as waste in the sense that I believe in the developed world a natural phenomenon like this should have been exploited to the fullest advantage. The area should have been developed with a five-star hotel and some kind of reconstruction so that we could keep the beach a bit far off and the place serve as a tourist centre instead of wasting away.

The ocean has become a threat and so dirty as people dump industrial human wastes. We don't preserve our natural endowments.

Two, I look at the fact that the ocean is coming closer and closer as a result of the incessant sourge. I think I will not be divulging any secret information if I tell you that my governor, His Excellency, Chief Adebayo Adefarati was here on Sunday and we stood at the balcony there (Ondo state liaison office building) and as he was looking at the sea, he said: "I think the Ondo State Government should begin to look for a new place to have its liaison office in Lagos. If it continues like this, very soon, nobody would be able to stay here any more". That was what he said. I quote him and I know he would not mind my quoting him.

You can see that practically one of the lanes of the dual-carriage way has been taken over already, the second lane would soon be taken away. The water sourges up to half of the height of the fence at times. So, in a matter of months, I see this place (liaison office) eating up if something is not done urgently. As a matter of fact, this is not a matter of state government doing it, Lagos State government, even pumping all that comes from federal allocation into this place, it cannot do the job, it is a federal matter. I believe the Federal Government would take up the responsibility.

Lagos State is not just a state. It used to be the nation's capital and now it is the nerve centre of the nation's economy as of today. Look at the number of banks in Lagos, the number of embassies that have their consular section in Lagos, I believe something must be done to save Victoria Island and even Ikoyi.

We live in fear. If not for official duties, I wouldn't come near the place. Even when you sit at the balcony, you feel the sourge. It comes so close to you.

So, the government should do something urgently. Even I am afraid if it is not late, looking at our attitude to things in Nigeria.

Mike Uyi, President General of the Global Peace Movement for Nigeria and Europe, (an NGO), who lives at the Gombe State Government House, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island:
It is a terrible situation, I am so disappointed. I am into human rights and conflict resolution. I feel it is a total violation of human rights in Nigeria by the government of Nigeria be it federal or state. I happen to have an insight about the situation that has led to the present situation of the ocean.

First of all, I know between 1997 and the year 2000, it was directly under the control of the Federal Government -100 metres off-shore land is certainly controlled by the Federal Government here. Until recently, when the Governor of the state, Senator Bola Tinubu came in on July 27, 2000 to demolish all the shops at the Bar-Beach, saying that Lagos State government had taken over. As a result of Lagos State taking over the Bar Beach, the Federal Government handed off the control and uptil now, nothing has been done by the state government to improve the ocean and the dual carriage way has almost been taken over by the ocean and all the liaison offices along Ahmadu Bello way are always affected by the incessant surge. I feel it is a shame and disgrace on the part of the Federal Government. If the state government cannot take care of the beach, the Federal Government should re-claim it.

I think the whole problem is the responsibility of the Federal Government to take care off. The Federal Government should take over the control of the beach from Tinubu and make it a tourist attraction. It is a blessing for the country to have an Atlantic Ocean directly in the city of Lagos. For instance, when I was in Europe, I used to go almost 60km away from the city to go and stay at the seashore.

Everybody living on Victoria Island is under threat and fear daily. Everybody is just staying here because there is no other alternative. We are living in fear because the ocean surge occurs almost every time. Hence, the government should take lives and property very serious in Nigeria.

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