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Environmental Sanitation and the Reward System in Sokoto

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Image: Governor of Sokoto State Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal

Does anyone reading this still remembers the Genesis of the armed militancy that precipitated grave industrial crisis in the crude oil rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria prior to the setting up of the Federal Amnesty office by the then Umar Musa Yaradua/Good luck Jonathan-led administration? 

Well, to spare you from much historical nightmare let me tell you straightaway that environmental  degradation and the devastation of the eco- system by the crude oil exploration firms majorly drawn from foreign-owned companies  was primarily responsible for the restiveness that tore throw the hearts of Niger Delta which led to many fatalities just as revenue running into Billions of United States Dollars became the inevitable  losses to Nigeria as a result of instability and the heightened state of insecurity in the oil bearing communities.  

Well, a detailed discussion on the current state of these crude oil producing communities in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria is a topic for another day but suffice it to state that the way we treat our immediate environment fundamentally determines the quality of the wellbeing, wellness and welfare of the residents and the domestic, wild life and aquaculture domiciled in those places.             

In that light, the young lawyer from Sokoto state who was the immediate past Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives who contested and won election to succeed his friend then Governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wammako as the governor of Sokoto State Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has confronted environmental uncleanness as a major factor that mustn’t be allowed to become the status quo in his domain of political leadership. 

He has therefore set in motion the efficient reward system that would recognise excellence in keeping the environment in good state of cleanness and excellent conditions amongst the various components that constitute the state of Sokoto.         

The Sokoto State Government under the watch of this ‘Northern Star’ Right Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has introduced a monthly incentive of one million naira to any district adjudged to be the cleanest in the state.

Governor Aminu Tambuwal disclosed the objectives of this exercise at the flag-off of special environmental sanitation programme in Sokoto penultimate week, saying the incentive is part of measures to enhance cleanliness and preservation of the environment.

He said the incentive is one in a series of efforts lined up by the government to protect the health of the people. His predecessor and now a serving Senator Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wammako has also set up a youth-led environmental sanitation squad in his immediate constituency in a bid to drum up support for the collective drive of the Sokoto State government to make the State one of the cleanest in line with the maxim that cleanness is next to Godliness and Sokoto being the seat of the Islamic religious leader in Nigeria (the Sultanate).

According to him, Sokoto will observe environmental sanitation every Saturday for one month, after which the exercise will continue on the first Saturday of every month.

Tambuwal said the sanitation exercise will ensure regular and speedy evacuation of refuse in the State metropolis in particular and all parts of the state in general.

The governor according to news report directed the state Environmental Protection Agency to establish a department of waste management whose functions include adequate waste collection, recovery and disposal arrangements.

The agency as established  will also undertake proper waste mapping, making a regular review of waste management plan in relation to non-hazardous wastes, authorization and control of commercial waste collection activities and lastly, public education enlightenment on the need for effective waste management in all parts of the state.

The Governor seen as result oriented said government would continue to support all efforts directed towards development and protection of the environment.

“Consequently, a neighbourhood watch outfit and Sokoto Marshals are being empowered through a legislation to be sent to the State House of Assembly to have established, in their consolidated structures, a sanitary inspection unit whose role will complement that of SEPA in waste management and enforcement of environmental laws”, Tambuwal added.

Mr. Tambuwal also announced that apart from the one million naira to be given to the cleanest zone, the runner-up zone will get N750, 000 while the third best zone will get N500, 000.

This writer think that this reward system is in line with African culture of showing appreciation and the motivation would stimulate competitive spirit amongst the people to work strenuously to emerge as the cleanest part of the State.

 But again, another school of thought would see this as unnecessary given that the issue of being clean in mind, body and our environment should be a necessary part of our daily lives as human beings who must strive to maintain a good and clean environment to live sustainably. 

In the area of public enlightenment and creation of awareness let the National Orientation agency in Sokoto partner with all relevant media organizations to more meaningfully educate the people in their local dialects on the necessity of maintaining clean environment. Already I’m told that the current administration has rejigged the organisational hierarchy and management of the state run print and electronic media for greater efficiency and productivity.  These steps have come at the most appropriate time.     

Government should ensure that those who deliberately litter the environment with filth must not go unpunished because for a reward system to function effectively there has to be the other side of punishment for those caught on the wrong side of the law.

Sokoto State government should also invite experts who can turn wastes whether solid or liquid into wealth so the people can meaningfully maximise the benefits of technology to transform these wastes into energy yielding resources. I’m also aware that there is so much conversations around the issue of recycling of wastes so let the government explore the possibilities of introducing enlightenment programme on recycling wastes so as to reduce the quantum of waste materials that are generated and dumped in the environment to prevent environmental degradation.  

Governor Tambuwal is a 21st century compliant politician and so he should do the needful in this direction.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of Human rights Writers association of Nigeria and blogs @www.huriwa.blogspot.com, www.rightsassociationngr.com, www.huriwa.org.


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