At the end of the Federal Executive Committee meeting two weeks ago, Information Minister Professor Jerry Gana, announced that the federal government had allocated N2.5 billion to effect temporary rehabilitative work at the Lagos Bar Beach, pending when a permanent solution can be found to the problem of the surge of the Atlantic Ocean.
The federal government also took a decision to take over the Bar Beach from the Lagos State government because the step was seen by the central government as the only way to halt the continuing deterioration of the coastline at Victoria Island. Expectedly, this latter action has been rejected by the Lagos State government which threatened legal action to resolve the issue.
It is particularly sad to note that the problem of the Atlantic coastline at the Bar Beach in Lagos has been with us for a long time. The ocean has gradually crept upon the adjoining area, eating up most of the Ahmadu Bello Way, and threatening to take over the very important real estate of significant economic value for the nation there. Yet the federal and Lagos State governments have continued to criminally neglect the potential tragedy that is looming.
It is also incredible to note that there has not been any meaningful effort to work out a comprehensive plan to find a lasting solution to the danger which the ocean represents at the Victoria Island/Bar Beach coastline of Lagos. What has been done in the past was to sand fill the beach and that has gulped $81 mil Lion (some N11 billion) so far without of course changing the fortune of the coastline.
On the one hand, Governor Bola Tinubu has been playing politics with the project while hoping that he can use the problem to extract money from the federal government. On the other hand, the federal government has also neglected the menace in the same manner that it has lost interest in such federal outfits as the Ikoyi federal secretariat, the National Assembly complex at Tafawa Balewa Square and other public institutions since the capital moved to Abuja.
Like other environmental problems in the country such as the desertification of the states of the North and the ecological disorder that is being witnessed in the Niger Delta region, our governments do what they do best, throw money at the problems because contract awards serve to open up avenues for corrupt enrichment. But then the underlying crises remain unsolved.
At the Bar Beach, there are even quixotic plans to build a so-called international resort when the exact approach to sort out the problem has not even come within the purview of officialdom. Fundamentally, we believe this is a problem that should challenge the initiative of the scientific community in our country.
There are relevant scientific bodies that should provide the study which would then form the basis for the solution to this problem. It is only after this has been done that a joint governmental and private sector financial initiative can then be mobilised to check this menace of nature.
It would be a shame for Nigeria to lose Victoria Island to the elemental forces just because our ruling circles have been unable to put their acts together again.
Nigerians must not allow either the federal or the Lagos State governments to carry irresponsibility to a height that might make us lose that vital economic artery which was initially opened up for residential and economic activities during the democratic regime of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa in the First Republic.