By Rogers Edor Ochela
It is necessary for me to emphasize from the onset that as media practitioner, I believe wholeheartedly in the platform of engagement which the media provides as a veritable market place for information dissemination and cross-fertilization of ideas. That is why I have decided to take advantage of the platform to engage on an issue that deeply touches on the corporate existence of the nation’s capital city.
It is rather unfortunate that since Muhammadu Buhari left office as Military Head of State in 1985, subsequent regimes and administrations simply abandoned one of his loftiest policies, the War Against Indiscipline (WAI), of which the much-applauded monthly sanitation exercise was a major part.
Nigerians’ fidelity to the exercise died a painful death and the consequence is the mountains of refuse gradually replacing the hitherto clean and ascetically beautiful nation. Today, a general survey of Nigeria reveals that filthiness has become a major feature of major cities and towns.
As the nation’s capital, Abuja continues to expand exponentially, both in population and infrastructure, lurking around is unspeakable filthiness. Cleanliness, it is said, is next to godliness, but unfortunately the seemingly penetrating import of this time-honoured statement is lost on majority of Nigerians. The situation is so bad that even the culture of cleanliness that we all imbibed from our various villages have been sacrificed on the altar of both physical and spiritual dirt. How sad!
So scandalized at the level of filthiness and pockets of mountains of refuse building up like skyscrapers in Abuja that the Minister, Mallam Mohammed Musa Bello, decided to act fast before the situation spirals out of control through the launch of the Household and Community Campaign in all the six area councils aimed at ensuring that Abuja takes its rightful position in the comity of capital cities in the world.
In his determination to ensure that the clean-up of Abuja is taken a notch higher, the highly energetic and workaholic Permanent Secretary of the FCTA, Dr. Babatope Ajakiaye, has formed a formidable synergy with the minister and the media to further sensitize Abuja residents on the need to imbibe the culture of clean environment.
Dr. Ajakaiye, who made this commitment in a meeting with some media executives on the administration’s on-going Household and Community Sanitation Campaign, disclosed that the support of the media, a key player in any government and society, is imperative for the success of the programme.
Aside urging the media to repeatedly spread the good tidings embedded in the Household and Community Sanitation Campaign to residents of the FCT, the FCTA has assured that in line with the change mantra of the Federal Government, residents of the territory will soon begin to feel the positive impact of governance.
The quest to further ensure a clean and hygienic Abuja recently re-echoed when a delegation of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) visited the FCT minister. Out of the N76.5 million counterparts funding to be released for the execution of various projects in the territory by Japan as grant to Nigeria, N46.5million has been earmarked for integrated solid waste management system in the FCT under the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB).
Indications also emerged about the desire of the FCTA to also partner with JICA on waste management in the FCT area councils and satellite towns, which will serve as blueprint for practical waste management system in the territory.
It is, therefore, crystal clear that the duo of Mallam Bello and Dr. Ajakaiye are determined to ensure that a comprehensive waste management system should be in place for the benefit of residents, just as they are also working assiduously to expand access to the dumpsites and create more access roads into the sites so that the refuse disposal trucks can go in simultaneously from three different entry points.
This will ensure that waste is properly disposed. As the leadership of the FCTA solicits partnership of the media to pass on its message of environmental sanitation encapsulated in the Household Community and Sanitation Campaign across the territory, it is necessary to commend the supportive role of the formidable media team in the FCTA.
In spite of the paralyzing effects of paucity of funds, the team has been up and doing in publicizing the activities of the ministry via countless press releases and articles in the media. On several occasions that I had the opportunity of interacting with Mallam Muhammad Hazat Sule, a professional colleague, who is the Deputy Director and Chief Press Secretary to the Minister, he left me in no doubt about his passion for the job, which is outstandingly legendary.
Unarguably, the role of the media in this epochal assignment of sensitizing the public on environmental sanitation is crucial, just as the need for all residents of the FCT to be conscious about maintaining a clean and secure environment cannot be over-emphasized. The duo of Bello and Ajakaiye deserve the support of all and sundry to ensure the workability of their pet programme, the Household and Community Sanitation Campaign.
Ochela, a media consultant based in Abuja, can be reached via [email protected]