Pollution: A case study of Nigeria’s environmental problem

Pollution: A case study of Nigeria’s environmental problem

Abdulazeez Hawau


We have lived with deadly levels of air pollution for years, which have made us more vulnerable to Coronavirus.” — Caroline Lucas 


Environmental pollution is a global problem that causes damage and affects humans, animals, and plants. The environment is the total living and non-living surroundings of any organism. While pollution is the introduction of harmful substances into the environment. These harmful substances are called ‘pollutants’ and they damage the quality of the air, water, land, and atmosphere which causes air pollution, water pollution, land pollution, and noise pollution respectively. Omilana (2019) confirmed that a total number of 279,318 died in Nigeria in 2017 and the data published last year covered 114,115 people that died as a result of air pollution as well as 159,777 people that died due to water pollution. UNICEF NIGERIA (2021) further asserted that, in Nigeria, 78% of air pollution-related pneumonia deaths are among children under five. This piece will further discuss the causes and effects of environmental pollution as well as the drastic use of plastic in Nigeria and recommendations.


First off, the causes of environmental pollution in Nigeria originate from human ruinous activities. For instance, burning of waste or bushes in a residential area, oil theft, illegal refinery, excessive use of plastic, throwing food as waste, littering the environment, drastic use of generators, mining, etc. All these activities result in air pollution, water pollution, land pollution, noise pollution, oil spillage, deforestation, desertification, wind erosion, and flooding(which happens due to heavy rainfall). Unfortunately, flooding has become an incessant problem in Nigeria as a result of heavy rainfall and inadequate drainage system. In the last rainy season, Benue, Kogi, Niger, Rivers, and Lagos experienced the effects of flooding. At present, on the Lagos island axis many streets and homes were flooded and properties, including cars and other invaluable belongings dunked. Some of the factors that enhance flooding are, building car parks at places that will hinder the rainfall from draining away naturally or artificial canals and reservoirs. According to  UN publication in 2013, flood management approaches should be economical, environmentally friendly, and socially sustainable. Sustainable development controls the immediate flood situation. For example, the improvement of water drainage systems in the Lagos island axis will help control floods by facilitating the easy flow of excess water.


Also, the drastic use of plastic bottles and bags is the genesis of another environmental effect in Nigeria. Based on research, plastic bottles take 400 to 1000 years to break down. Lagos, Nigeria’s megacity of nearly 16 million people, produces between 13,000 and 15,000 tonnes of waste per day including 2,250 tonnes of plastic, according to a local recycling business. Nigeria law markers considered a bill in 2019 to prohibit the use of plastics but the bill is still in limbo, it is yet to undergo further reading and has not been enacted into law. Consequently, plastic bags and bottles are frantically used in Nigeria and the effect is not bearable on living beings and plants. Plastics degrade the aesthetic (beauty) value of Nigerian landscapes and aquatic systems. This compromises cultural ecosystem services such as ecotourism. Plastics are non-biodegradable. Burning plastics release dangerous substances that can affect health. 


To sum up, actions to end any form of environmental pollution in Nigeria are suggested here. The public should be educated on all the causes of pollution since they are already experiencing the effect. Waste and bush burning laws should be reinforced to apprehend and prosecute offenders. To discourage the practice, the government should levy a high fee on each plastic bag that shoppers get at malls (Emmanuel, 2022).


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