A short trip from Lagos
to Abeokuta yesterday
in the midst of this
into focus what could
happen if our farmers and builders
do not desist from indiscriminate
Driving on the road, one could
smell smoke and see ash dropping on
the windscreen and in some cases,
the smoke conspired with the Har-
mattan haze to impair visibility.
A wise person should know that
this season of Harmattan winds and
dryness is the wrong time to start
burning bushes for any reason. Most
of the fire disasters – whether bush or
urban – in Nigeria have been man-
made and avoidable.
We acknowledge that God has been
kind to Nigeria in many ways be-
cause we hardly have such wild fires
or even wild weather as harsh as is
prevalent in other parts of the world.
Okay – Sometimes we have floods
caused mostly by us because we are
not prepared for overflow of rivers
or we have blocked the drains with
refuse and unauthorised buildings.
But that’s it.
And no annual bushfires, the kind
we see ravaging Australia currently.
California also has its regular fires.
Can you imagine what will happen
if these types of fires were to ‘show
face’ in Nigeria? These are uncontrol-
lable fires that send families relocat-
In Harmattan times like we are
experiencing now, any small bush fire
can escalate to full destructive blaze
that can result in huge losses. Some
of our bush fires are caused from
negligence by farmers preparing the
land for farming. Many such farmers
and landowners pay dearly for such
However, I don’t think we have seen
fires in the scale of the current Aus-
tralian disaster. It is a huge lesson for
us all that in such places where they
have relevant fire fighting equipment
from the air, land and sea, what they
have is still not even enough to fight
In Nigeria, we hardly have the ex-
pertise or know how and equipment
to fight fires of such magnitude. Sto-
ries abound of waterless fire trucks,
no fuel to even drive the trucks, no
airplanes to dump water on fires.
Can you imagine those huge
Australia fires in built-up places in
Nigeria? Please don’t!
Agencies should warn farmers and
other land users against unauthor-
ised, indiscriminate bush burning so
that we do not add to the problems
we already have in this country.
We sympathise with the people of
Australia in their current situation
but it is a sure warning to us that if
we are not careful, it could be us.
Epa Ogie Eboigbe, veteran journalist,
broadcaster and public affairs special-
ist writes on, and analyses current and
historical issues with a ‘wise pen’.