There have always been reports of poor waste management in some states of the federation. Such reports abound in the south-south too. But the situation appears to have been worsened in the recent past, especially as active politicking is now in vogue.
Political office holders seem to have abandoned their jobs to face their political future. As a result, the people suffer. This is what is happening in places like Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states.
In Rivers State for example, refuse heaps have taken over major roads. It is difficult to find a major streets and roads in the state capital that is free of refuse dumps. From Rumuomasi to Stadium Road, from Elekahia to GRA, you find mountainous refuse dumps that may have been there for weeks. Even the median of some of those roads have also become refuse dumps and the government is doing almost nothing about the situation.
This is happening at a time that the state governor, Nyesom Wike is busy flying round the country to consult delegates ahead of the PDP presidential primary election.
Interestingly, Felix Obuah, the sole administrator of the state sanitation agency, RIWAMA, is also seeking to contest for the seat of governor. He aspires to succeed Wike. So, while Wike is not paying attention to issues of governance anymore, because of his political ambition, his appointee who is supposed to clear the state capital of refuse dumps is also facing his own political ambition. As a result, the state capital is now competing with Aba in terms of refuse heaps.
A similar situation is playing out in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State where the governor is also seeking the same PDP ticket to become the next president of the country. His state has also been taken over by refuse dumps.
The man in Cross River State, Prof Ben Ayade also wants to become president. He is yet to declare his intention publicly. But that is where his attention is at the moment, while the state capital that used to be known for its cleanliness, is now very dirty, with refuse heaps dotting every part of Calabar.
We are worried that public office holders have relegated governance to the background while more attention is being paid to partisan politics and personal political achievements. With about a year to go, the elected public officials owe the electorate a duty to serve out their terms religiously and faithfully.
A situation where refuse dumps are allowed to remain for weeks and months without being cleared cannot be good for the health of the people. And it is even worse that even the appointed officials are now competing with those who appointed them, as they make moves to reach out to delegates from whom they hope to secure their party’s ticket for the main election.
Things cannot continue like this. There must be a reawakening on the part of those officials whose duty it is to keep the cities clean. The governors must also return to the path of honour by calling to order, those they appointed to take charge of the cleanliness of their respective states.
Granted that it is their right to take steps to get to the next political office, they should realise that a people who have been sentenced to a live in polluted environments, may not live long to vote for them during the next election.
We challenge the governors to take another look at the sanitary condition of their respective states and take very drastic action to return their states to those days when there used to be a semblance of cleanliness. To allow things to remain like this is an indirect way of saying that the residents do not deserve to enjoy fresh and safe air.