TOWARDS A CLEAN EDO – QUEENNETH OROBEDO
Edo state government has set a huge goal for itself to become one of the cleanest in the country within the next four years. This daunting task which comes with a lot of challenges, human and otherwise is achievable as has been proven by states like Lagos and Cross River.
It will be recalled that successive administrations especially the immediate past, have tried to clean up the state to no avail. Just when government thought progress was being made, it was back to status quo.
Upon assumption of office, Governor Godwin Obaseki made it crystal clear that cleaning up the state was a path to take.
It all started with a workshop where the idea to clean up the state was conceptualized. The workshop was the work of experts put together by the state government to find lasting solution to the environmental problems.
The theme of the workshop was: “Enhancing Environmental Governance for Sustainable development”; a meeting which was honoured by former Governor of Cross River state, Mr Donald Duke.
It was a gathering of all stake holders drawn from the public and private sectors within and outside the country, where participants brainstormed on how to come up with realistic ideas towards a ‘clean state’.
During the workshop, Governor Obaseki enjoined all “to embrace the responsibility of environmental management, towards a cleaner environment and improved standard of living” .
He stressed that “the workshop was an avenue to find a way to link environmental issues with growth, create an enabling environment for investors and also improve the living standards of the people”. This he said “will help promote the huge potential of the state and protect the ecosystem”.
The governor remarked that “global standards in environmental management will be employed”; and tasked participants to put their knowledge at the disposal of the government, to enable the state achieve the desired goal.
Chairman of the workshop, Mr Donald Duke said everyone must own the vision for the desired result to be achieved. According to him, the people have a responsibility of keeping the system on their toes.
He painted a picture of great hope saying “Lagos was tagged as one of the filthiest places in the world, but today, it’s not even on the list. Edo is not filthy, Edo will be much better”.
Drawing from the success stories of Lagos and Cross River states, Governor Obaseki stated emphatically that he has the political will to clean up the state. Knowing that the major challenge is ownership by the people, he promised to tackle that by creating social awareness about the vision and sensitizing the people.
Ideas were later distilled into a workable action plan that led to the activities of the task force being seen today.
Following the workshop, the state government immediately empowered the task force comprising of environmental health officers, officials of the state waste management Board, and members of the Nigeria police with a mobile court, to prosecute and summarily sanction environmental sanitation and pollution management law offenders.
The city centre, popularly known as king’s Square was used as a test case. The Oba Ovoranmwen Square which used to be characterized by chaos, disorder and filth, was rid of all that. Sanity has been restored.
No more trading on walkways or roads, no indiscriminate parking of vehicles, no littering or hawking around the city centre, and so on.
The list is endless. The public has been sensitized and is still being sensitized on these issues.
Residents are calling out to the state government to replicate the same thing in other areas.
In recent times, people have witnessed demolition of buildings around the city centre, reason being that such buildings were located in the right of way or didn’t meet the approved town planning standard.
On the sustenance of this new development, government has put modalities in place to checkmate night trading, and other sanitation and pollution law management offences.
Success was not recorded in time past because it was conducted within the policies in the ministry, and some people were treated like sacred cows.
No two situations are ever the same, Edo sate will have to fashion out her own indigenous solutions.
Edo state needs a lot of private participants but the initiative must be driven by government.
Also the issue of deforestation will have to be addressed within the context of the new environmental drive.
Edo state government is looking at converting waste to wealth , compost, beautification of public parks, creating alternative power sources that are eco-friendly and beneficial to the environment in the long run. Others include achieving zero waste landfill/ engineered land fill, mopping up solid waste, eradicating child labour, educating the people on the socio-economic benefit of buying the idea, down the road. The state government has and is still employing a lot of education, sensitization, plea, and enforcement.
The dream is to build a state where man and environment are in harmony.
Governor Obaseki hopes to drive the ideas and make Edo state the cleanest in the country before the end of his tenure.