The Nigerian Conservation Foundation, NCF, and Lagos State Government spend the third Saturday in October every year, raising public awareness on contemporary environmental issues through a rally tagged “Walk for Nature”, which for years was held in Marina, the most popular part of Lagos Island.
In 2020,the program was shelved due to the COVID19 lockdown imposed across major cities in Nigeria as part of measures to contain the pandemic. However, in 2021, “Walk for Nature” rally was carried out in a bigger way as it was held in three famous areas in Lagos namely Ikoyi-Obalende, Surulere and Ikeja, the state Secretariat, as against past years when it was held at a single location in Marina.
The 2021 edition made it fourteen consecutive times, except in 2020, that NCF and Lagos State Government would jointly hold the environmental awareness rally.
Speaking at an event in Lagos on behalf of the government, the state Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello sought the full cooperation of residents by supporting initiatives and policies aimed at transforming the state into an entity where people prosper while the health of the environment is preserved.
Mr. Bello said Government through various policies and initiatives including collaborations with stakeholders like the NCF has been doing a lot in the environment sector, but reiterated that all the efforts would amount to nothing without the people giving their supports.
He explained that the collaboration with NCF was in accordance with the goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which says that a successful sustainable development agenda requires partnerships between Governments, the private sector and civil society.
The Environment Commissioner who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs. Belinda Odeneye, enjoined Lagosians to be actively involved in advancing the course of the environment, stressing that any sacrifice made to “conserve nature is likened to conserving people’s lives and livelihoods”.
Mr. Bello pointed out that the 2021 “walk for nature” rally was held in Ikoyi- Obalende, Surulere and Ikeja and that the strategy “is to decentralise the process in order to reach the grassroots”.
Shedding more light on the initiative and its benefits, he explained that, “The State Government through the Ministry is seeing to demonstrate interest, show concerns and create a niche in conservation matters through partnership and collaboration with the Private sector and Non-governmental organization in compliance with the SDG17; Credit for supporting the Global trend of Nature Conservation. The Walk for Nature is an effort towards preserving Nature and improving the quality of lives of Lagosian; increasing the environmental health of the State through reduction of vehicular emission;
“The programme over the years has continued to create awareness and sensitize Lagosians on the importance of Nature Conservation and Biodiversity;
promotes healthy lifestyles and improve physical fitness of the participants.
“In view of the foregoing and the existing cordial working relationship between the Ministry and Nigerian Conservation Foundation , the Ministry has continued to support the programme yearly”.
Mr. Bello went on to tell Lagosians to zero their minds about the possibility of increased coastal erosion , due to rapid development in parts of the state , especially Ibeju Lekki as Government has put in place a mechanism that ensures that development efforts follow prescribed standards.
He underlined that the ” promotion of mass transportation schemes, is among strategies by Government to cut down carbon emmission, thereby reducing the vulnerability of the state to effects of climate change”.
On his part, the representative of NCF, Chief Ede Dafinone said since 2008, the foundation has been collaborating with the Lagos State Government through the State Environment Ministry in enlightening the citizenry on the importance of environmental protection and conservation through the yearly rally.
Chief Dafinone who is the Chairman Executive Council of the foundation believed that the collaboration has in no small measure achieved great success, as more Lagosians are becoming environmentally conscious based on findings.
Chief Dafinone, commended the Government in Lagos for opening the door of partnership to the foundation, even- though it is a national Non Governmental Organisation.