It is necessary for me to emphasize from the onset that as a 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 of.
With that development, Nigerians’ fidelity to the exercise died a painful death and the resultant consequence is the mountains of refuse that are 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.
Just like other major cities in Nigeria, as the nation’s capital city of Abuja continues to expand exponentially, both in population and infrastructure-wise, lurking around it is unspeakable filthiness. Cleanliness, it is often 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 in the altar of both physical and spiritual dirt. How sad!
So scandalised at the level of filthiness and pockets of mountains of refuse building up like skyscrapers in Abuja that the minister, Mallam Muhammadu 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, who has formed a formidable nay admirable synergy with the minister, recently expressed the commitment of the administration to strengthening its partnership with the media to further sensitize Abuja residents on the need to imbibe the culture of a 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, which is a key player in any government and society, is imperative for the success of the programme. His words: “We deem it indispensable to partner with the press as a veritable tool of information dissemination to ensure that our messages get to all the nooks and crannies of the FCT. We desire to partner with the media as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility in the effort being made to redeem the image of our dear nation.”
Aside urging the media to repeatedly spread the good tidings embedded in the Household and Community Sanitation Campaign to residents of the FCT, the FCT Administration under Mallam Bello ably supported by Dr. Ajakaiye, has assured of the administration’s readiness to ensure 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 thunderously when a delegation of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) paid courtesy visit to the FCT minister, Musa Bello. Out of the N76.5 million counterparts funding to be released for the execution of various projects in the territory by Japanese government as grant to Nigeria, N46.5million has been earmarked for integrated solid waste management system in the Federal Capital Territory under the Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB.
Indications have also emerged about the desire of the FCT Administration to also partner with JICA on waste management in the FCT Area Councils and satellite towns, which will serve as a blueprint for practical waste management system in the entire Territory.
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 opinion 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.
Rabiu writes from Abuja