Defeating environmental degradation in Abia
THE on-going effort to redeem Abia State by the new administration at this auspicious period is not only appropriate but timely, more so now that a majority of Nigerians of all shades of opinions are yearning for a change. That the change mantra is gradually permeating all sectors of the economy is no exaggeration. Without mincing words, it will be appropriate to state that the change mantra, as infectious as it has been, is gradually evolving as a sustainable culture. Take for instance, the current effort by the Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu led-administration in building roads, restoring the aesthetic beauty and scenery of Aba as a major industrial hub of the state as well as ensuring the environmental cleanliness of the state is putting the state to the next level of development. That the state is steadily being librated from mountainous wastes that pose great danger to the citizens calls for commendation for the state government.
Just recently, the news media were awash with stories of Abia being taken over by the huge wastes which to some of these news hounds reporting the environmental situation of the state could trigger diseases of unimaginable proportion. To them, the picture was so bad that if nothing was done immediately, the state might suffer an environmental catastrophe ever witnessed in Nigeria. However, without declaring a state of emergency on the environmental sector, the state government quickly swung into action by providing the necessary equipment and logistics for the cleanliness and evacuation of refuse in the flash points known to be major wastes dumps.
It should be noted that even with the paucity of funds, the government has gone ahead to provide the necessary refuse disposing facilities and manpower to clean up those areas, especially the cities of Umuahia and Aba. The case in point is the setting up of a team, known as Aba City Wastes and Cleanup Exercise Intervention (ACWCEIU) Unit, whose duty is to complement the efforts of the Abia State Environmental Sanitation Authority (ASEPA) in cleaning up Aba and ensuring that the city is free from unnecessary littering of wastes which should have been channeled to wastes bins and receptacles. In reality, Aba as a major commercial town, that is populated by people of various shades and factories of all kinds; namely small, medium and large scales, that generate large proportions of industrial and conventional wastes on a daily basis. It was in recognition of this that the Eastern Nigerian Government of old and later the Sam Mbakwe Administration introduced programmes that became a panacea for the city’s large-scale waste deposits and, therefore, enhanced its tidiness at the time.
People remember with nostalgia the famous sanitary inspectors of the Michael Okpara era and the SULO firm of the Sam Mbakwe of the old Imo state. Both the sanitary inspectors and the SULO, as an organization worked conscientiously to meet up with the programme of their principals in environmental cleanliness. Indeed, the leadership thrust of these two past administrations was focused on getting the people to live in a clean and healthy environment, devoid of diseases and ill health. Their environmental policies were aimed at improving the lifestyle of residents in the cities in their jurisdiction, Aba inclusive. And so Aba enjoyed a healthy and clean environment as both Administrations lasted. Unfortunately, subsequent administrations failed to sustain the policies as enunciated by them until the present efforts to clean up Abia by the Ikpeazu’s administration and make it not only a tidy state but one free from germs and diseases. It is believed that a healthy society is a strong society and that an economy of a society is properly grounded when its citizens live in a clean environment and are healthy.
Based on this theory, the state government has decided to tackle its environmental menace headlong. With the setting up of ACWCEIU in Aba and other interventions in the cleanliness of Abia State, the government appears set to sustain our ecosystem. By ecosystem we are talking of that which includes natural beings in their biological community such as ants, trees, air, water, sun, moon, soil etc. These will be made to survive in their habitats as the government’s programme on enthroning healthy and clean environment is sustained.
Noise and combustible pollution which used to be our bane will be controlled under this effort to restore the environmental sanitation of the state. With this, life will be enjoyable and the lifespan of the citizens will improve tremendously. Other responsibilities of the Aba City Wastes and Clean-up Exercise Intervention Unit are to evacuate all the wastes deposits in Aba and Umuahia. They are similarly to remove receptacles and other wastes bins where they block highways. It is also charged with the responsibility of spreading some disinfectants and insecticides to areas whose mountainous wastes have been evacuated.
For now, the activities of the unit have been lauded by Aba residents who now see a new beginning in the efforts of the Ikpeazu’s administration to introduce a new culture of cleanliness that is embedded in the change mantra. It is evinced in the government’s policy to take the state to the highest level of socio-economic development. Aba residents can now testify to the fact that major wastes/refuse flashpoints like Ariaria axis of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, Asa Road, Opopo junction and so on, are now wearing a new look as a result of this current renaissance in the removal of precipitous wastes. The sites which hitherto were an eyesore as a result of their despicable state are now flat, tidy, odour-free and environmental friendly.
• Nwosu, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Umuahia 08035766615 firstname.lastname@example.org