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WCD: There Will Never Be Innovation Without Cities — Expert Reveals

By Olamide Francis, Lagos

An Environmental Expert and Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Management and Toxicology of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Dr. Olusegun Oguntoke, has said the value cities contribute to the development of nations cannot be underestimated.

The expert made this statement in commemoration of this year’s World Cities Day in an interview with NatureNews describing cities as the bedrock of civilisation.

“Cities are centers of civilisation. It is where new ideas are found. Because of the nature of cities, it brings together different people that foster innovation and the exchange of ideas,” he expressed.

Speaking about the increasing rate of urban blight in Nigeria, the former Deputy Dean of the College of Environmental Resources Management said, “It is almost impossible for Nigeria to get rid of urban blight completely but we can minimise it drastically. It will require urban development intervention to handle it.

“We can go systematically, for example, there are slums, shantytowns, etc. in almost every city in Nigeria. We need to visit these places, liaise with relevant stakeholders on ways to upgrade their standard of living.

“An affordable and low-cost building should be provided for the people. If we do that, we will be changing the appearance of the area occupied by slums in our cities.

“The traditional part of cities should be developed with the provision of infrastructures and facilities that characterise the urban areas. There is a lot of scheme targeted at the rich, the government should develop a housing scheme for low and middle-income earners.”

He described the outcome of the peaceful #EndSARS protest as unfortunate saying the attack on assets nationwide is a huge loss.
Oguntoke called on relevant stakeholders to be careful of how the waste incurred from the burning of assets is disposed of.

“About the handling of vehicle carcasses, it depends on the assessment of the vehicles.

“The 3R approach can be employed. Materials recovered can be reused and burnt vehicles moved to places where scarp metals are needed to make other materials.

“Also, they can outright be sold to vehicle manufacturing companies.”

Calling on the government and relevant stakeholders to be wary of the level of poisonous gases that have been given off in the process of burning vehicles and properties in the past days, Oguntoke said the government must aggressively fight environmental pollution.

He described the burnings that happened nationwide as a tip of an iceberg to the flaring of gas in the South-South region of the country.

He called on relevant stakeholders to minimise pollutants in the environment, tackle indiscriminate burning of refuse and make efforts to transit to renewable energy.

“The burnings that occurred would have contributed to the warming of the environment with the production of gases like methane, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, etc. that cause global warming and contribute to climate change,” he explained.

Speaking about the mode of transmission of Covid-19, Oguntoke said although the housing system in Nigeria doesn’t play a major role in the process, he called on relevant stakeholders and public health practitioners to be on alert as it can contribute to the spread of popular viral diseases.

He spoke about the problem with conservation in Nigeria.

He said, “The problem with conservation is that we do not follow our implementation strategy to the latter.

“There are designated areas for various environmental purposes but we have ignored them.

“The creation of gardens should be encouraged among individuals. Building up your house without leaving space for gardens and trees is not a good thing.

“We must never lose sight of implementation. Countries like Kenya and South Africa make billions annually from tourists that visit their conservation and forest areas.”

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