Cleanliness, they say is next to godliness. This truism appears to be the drive of Governor Godwin Obaseki who recently assured the people of his administration’s determination to make Edo the cleanest state in Nigeria. It was at a 2-day workshop where he delivered the keynote address with the theme: ‘Enhancing Environmental Governance for sustainable Development’ held recently in the state capital.
Stakeholders in the field of environment and participants from other relevant sectors attended the workshop, which was organized in Benin City by the state government. The governor told the gathering that the aim of the workshop was to bring experts together to brainstorm on how to sustain and manage the environment prudently to increase the living standards of the people of the state
A former governor of Cross River state and a friend of Edo people, Donald Duke, who saw the workshop as being timely, equally noted that if the environment was clean, investors would be attracted to the state and there would be access to potable water and job opportunities among others.
Donald Duke was quick to caution that efforts to make Edo State a reference point for environmental sustainability might be unachievable without support and partnership from private organisations and individual citizens
To pull through an efficient and sustainable environment in Edo State, the State Government decided to launch the “Clean Up Edo project.” headed by the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq. The General Manager of the Edo Environmental Sanitation Board is also the operational head of the team that implements decisions from the SSG’s directives.
The team did a good job by coming up with a blue print on how to sanitise all environmental issues ranging from street trading, hawking, trading by walk ways and traffic offences that had made the city centre nightmarish for both citizens and visitors of the state alike.
As a purposeful and people-centred government, the environmental team went round affected parts of the state sensitizing and educating all stakeholders, including those breaching the environmental and traffic laws. For weeks and months running, several meetings were held to discuss the best way to take away the madness always witnessed at the Ring Road, Mission Road, Ibiwe, Lagos Street and environs as well as New Benin, Sakponba Road by Third East Circular among others. Then came the first warning, the second, third and last warning. The task team were quite urbane in their approach. They appealed, they counseled and they warned.
Sadly, all entreaties to the violators were more of dialogue of the deaf. They stubbornly refused to adhere to the government clear order. Traders and drivers alike. remained adamant
Then came the big hammer! The only language our people could sometimes hear-Use of force, a subtle one at that. All makeshift structures that gave bad outlook to the city centre were overnight removed by the task team and by the following morning, the all clear. Illegal traders who came to the city centre to ply their trade in unauthorised places were taken by storm as they were stupefied with the new look Ring Road. The government made good its promise and it is moving ahead with its lofty plans.
As a result the removal of makeshift trading spots and illegal bus stops, as well as the sweeping and clearing of refuse around the popular Ring, traders, motorists and pedestrians have applauded the political will of Governor Godwin Obaseki for bringing to life, the beauty of the city.
That is exactly what is expected of any well meaning citizen. The ‘Edo Clean-up’ Project is aimed at decongesting major areas in the city centre and restoring order and sanity to the metropolis. Interestingly, the process, which was executed by the state’s Task Force on Environmental Sanitation, was ordered by Governor Godwin Obaseki, who has demanded the restoration of the serenity of the affected areas in the state capital.
Some residents hailed the sanitisation measures while others chose to vilify government over its actions. But all civilised persons have praised the government effort and many now wants it permanently sustained. This view is as a direct learning from the experience of immediate past administration led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who made a lot of efforts to enforce sanity in the king square but unfortunately could not achieve the desired result being harvested today. But the good thing is that Oshiomhole made the good start which the new government is building upon.
There is every need for sustainability of the current momentum because negligence by the task force would encourage the scourge to return. That was what didn’t go well with the Oshiomhole’s approach. Lessons from that experience means government putting in place a 24/7 measure to check this terrible state of affairs.
Without sounding immodest, the former situation was sickening and made nonsense of the amount spent by the last administration on beautifying the affected areas, especially Ring Road. Before the current effort, the refuse dumped everywhere would block the drainages constructed by Oshiomhole, which reduced the incidents of floods in the affected areas. Now that the rains are here, the government’s measures are timely and most commendable. The street traders may prove stubborn people, so the government must use ‘iron hands’ if it wants result
For most motorists, the testimony is everywhere that the clean-up has facilitated smooth flow of traffic. What perhaps needed be done by government to assuage a few dissenting voices is that it should open new markets for the displaced traders and ensure that all traders in the state stayed within market parameters.
In the same vein, government should also properly relocate some of the motor parks such as the one by Oba Market road end covering Siluko, Ekehuan, Evbuotubu and Eruwunse routes. The current parking space is quite chaotic leading to their resort to self help in some streets around the Oba Market area. All stakeholders in the Edo State project need to key into government’s Clean up Edo project to take Edo to the next level of development as enunciated by the quiet achieving Governor Godwin Obaseki.
• Mr. Dan Owegie is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Edo State.