The building is so strategically located that you cannot miss it. I understand that that is about the first major national building in Abuja which was constructed since 1992. These little things that could be done by the government in order to earn some credibility are never attended to and when they are, they seem belated. Why I worry is that the noise we make about ourselves as the giant of Africa is just the usual lip service with no particular substance attached to it.
This is a structure that is located just before the turn to the National Hospital on the way to the airport. A number of foreigners, diplomats and other big time political office holders pass this place every day. This is in addition to the fact that the United Nations building is situated somewhere around that axis and a number of embassies are equally located there. While a larger percentage of people commute on this axis to the National Hospital and other locations situated on this axis, what explanation then do we have as a people if the Environment House saddled with the mandate and responsibility of overseeing the environment for sustainable development is in a state of disrepair and deplorableness? Or what excuse does the government and the Federal Ministry of Environment have by not giving priority to what directly concerns them?
The paradox about the Environment House is the inscription on the building which ordinarily ought to be a beacon of hope to the nation following the strength inherent in the words. I wonder how the Brown Building that needs to be protected and salvaged from dilapidation and from becoming an environmental nuisance wants to protect the environment. It may interest you to know that a walk through the building can make you sick. The entire carpet in the building is threadbare on all of the floors. Disappointedly, on one of the floors, a generator is in one of the landing, perpetually blasting away its obnoxious noise, while other floors of the building are left to generate power on their own. At the rear side of the building, it is almost falling apart while a canteen situated there tells you that there is a regular human traffic in the place.
The paradox of the Brown Building is further heightened by the fact that the bulk of revenue generated by the Federal Ministry of Environment comes from the building which always play host to virtually all the oil companies in Nigeria for accreditation and other such services. This is the building where you have the Departments of Assessment, Accreditation, Desertification and a host of others. And this in turn generates a huge sum of money or revenue into the coffers of the ministry and the country at large. Is it not very shameful to discover that this same goose that is laying the golden egg is left to suffer and die? There are quite a number of departments in the building that are viable to the economy of the country. If the expatriates are regularly in this place holding meetings and doing one thing or another that regularly makes them to visit the building, it is then not out of place for something drastic to be done to rescue this building. This is becoming like a trade mark or better still a brand to the Ministry of Environment to always appear very contrary to what its mandate is in terms of environmental protection. Sometime between 2007 and 2008, you will hold your breathe if you are ever unfortunate to visit the “Green Building” of the Ministry of Environment at Maitama. The human waste from the toilets not only smelt horribly but the waste water and the excreta were physically seen at the passages of the second and third floors while the flies greeted you as you approached the foyer and reception of the ground floor. Coupled with what is going on in the brown building now, this needs attention. There is a need to reinvent and reorder this un-saintly status quo. How should the environment ministry be in this state of affairs while the staff and officials are comfortable to identify with the place?
Segun Simmons writes from Abuja. firstname.lastname@example.org