With a large population of over 70 million people and a surface area of 924,000 sq km (which is about twice the size of Sweden), Nigeria could be considered to have no immediate need for additional subsurface space. A brief account of the soil types and geology of Nigeria is given and the national trend in the development and growth of distribution systems such as electricity, telecommunications and some liquid products is presented. The periodic difficulties posed by combined geologic and geographic factors including rivers, floods, coastal swamps and lightning during thunderstorms which all pose problems occasionally resulting in unrealiable services were identified. However, these distribution services are mainly carried out in near surface cuttings within the superficial weathered layer and rarely in the Cretaceous sediments or Pre-Cambrian Basement Complex.
The study had revealed the sudden proliferation of diverse technologies in distribution systems in Nigeria especially in the field of telecommunications which exhibits a profoundly limited scope of inter-changeability of supplies and spares. The present inadequate manpower development and almost total reliance on foreign technology to cope with the situation were identified as constraints in advances to increased utilization of the subsurface. Consequently, recent plans involving the rerouting of telecommunications and electric cables underground have invariably been motivated not only by environmental protection and aesthetic considerations alone but also by requirements for additional subsurface space particularly in largely congested urban centres such as Lagos and Ibadan. Furthermore, the introduction of subsurface distribution and storage network for petroleum products has been necessitated by phenomenal upsurge in local demand. Hence Nigeria experiences a rapid economic expansion with attendant environmental strains which require immediate national attention both in terms of legislation and fiscal input as well as in the development of new distribution lines.
With a large surface area of 924,000 sq km (which is about twice the size of Sweden) and a population of 75 million people, Nigeria could at a glance be considered to have no immediate need for additional subsurface space. However, the trend of global technological developments suggests that the utilization of subsurface space for diverse purposes including a meaningful improvement of the environment should not be left to advanced countries alone. It becomes imperative in a developing economy such as Nigeria to evolve a long term scheme that is aimed at a proper environmental management and protection of nature, Such a program, motivated by concern for improved efficiency and reliability of services to minimize human suffering, will reduce the damage being done to the physical environment by unplanned constructional activities and pollution from domestic and industrial waste. This paper highlights recent developments in distributive systems such as electricity transmission, telecommunication and petroleum products network in Nigeria with a view to stimulating interest in increased use of the subsurface for environmental protection.