Abuja the nascent capital of Nigeria and the adjoin towns in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT are today wearing an ugly look. A look of dirt-filled environment. In Nyanya, Karu, Kubwa, Gwagwalada, Kuje, Kurudu, Garki and Mpape to mention but a few, heaps of garbage are constantly seen. Indications are that the same squalor conditions are common in other satellite towns and some parts of the city centre.
Facts are that the challenge of waste disposal, clearing of drainage, cleaning of roads and streets has proven to be very daunting, to the authorities especially in the satellite towns. These services, which have been outsourced to cleaning companies, have not been satisfactorily carried out.
We recall that as part of efforts to ensure the cleanliness of Abuja, and the entire Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) was set up in 1990 to undertake waste management and other environmental protection activities in the territory.
Present and previous administrations initiated several policies and programmes to keep Abuja clean and shore up its image as a modern and cosmopolitan city.
Some of the measures include; removal of hawkers from the city, the prohibition of prostitution and street begging, as well as the compulsory monthly sanitation exercise.
The monthly sanitation exercise was widely adjudged by many observers as a potent tool of keeping the FCT clean but the AEPB has repeatedly complained about the low turnout of residents for the monthly cleanup activities.
To ensure compliance, the Board initiated a policy empowering officials to inspect houses during the exercise. But like the monthly exercise, that policy failed to achieve its purpose.
As part of efforts to remove illegal dump-sites in the city centre and the area councils, the former FCT administration came up with a programme tagged “Clean and Green Greater Abuja’’ which entailed a one-month intensive cleanup of the city.
The initiative was to mobilise all the residents of the FCT to embark on tree planting, while establishing woodlots and combating bush burning during the dry season.
Suffice it to say that improper waste management, as well as the unsanitary conditions of the surroundings has been undermining efforts to create a healthy, congenial and tourism-friendly city.
The goal of attracting investments and making Abuja a global tourism destination will remain a lip service if government intentions are not matched with a culture of cleanliness, conservation and greening.
Be that as it may, one does not expect the FCTA to take over the environmental sanitation of communities in the area councils, which is the statutory duty of the councils. It would only collaborate with them in that regard.
We therefore urge the Council chairmen, landlords, traditional rulers, school proprietors and all the residents to brace up to the challenges of cleaning and greening their neighbourhoods to avert possible outbreaks of epidemic and natural disasters.
The cleaning of Abuja is a task that requires all hands on the deck to ensure its sustainability.
On the other hand, keeping FCT clean is very difficult; and the authorities need a lot of resources to ensure its sustainability. Residents must therefore be ready to pay their bills.
Residents should also acquire customized AEPB waste bins to guard against indiscriminate dumping of refuse.
We urge the AEPB to embark on public enlightenment campaign via radio, television and newspapers to educate the public on the importance of keeping their surroundings clean.
At the same time, they should immediately enforce the law on street begging and hawking by recruiting more personnel into its task force.
Until recently, in neighbourhoods like Wuse where the city’s main market is located, hawkers, beggars and hoodlums were having a leeway in conducting their business which defaced the environment. Such measures should be extended to other areas particularly Abuj-Keffi Road and Kubwa expressway.
Abuja is the city of government where things are planned for the administration of this country. It should not be turned into a filthy environment.