When the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello re-introduced the monthly exercise again in the territory, many residents in the capital city doubt its effectiveness. Some termed it another government ‘project’ that was bound to fail. Some also saw it as a waste of time and government resources but some others thought that something good might come out of it, only if certain things were put in place.
Many of the residents who spoke with FCT WATCH stated that each area council in the FCT needed to embark on sensitization of the residents as the exercise would be fruitless without the participation of the residents.
“I never knew about the sanitation exercise until someone told me about it. I know many other FCT residents do not know what it is about. So there should be urgent need for sensitization of the people,” Ifenyinwa Okeke, a resident of Gwagwalada stated.
While some of them stated that the monthly environmental sanitation exercise re-introduced by the FCT minister was a welcome development, they emphasised the need for strict enforcement of environmental laws to achieve the desired cleanliness in the area.
They blamed the current sanitation challenges facing the territory on ignorance on the part of some residents and the failure of the area councils to live up to expectation.
A resident of Kuje, Monday Ekeanya, while using Kuje as example stated that the decay in sanitation in Kuje followed the failure of the area council to enforce environmental laws on the people.
Ekeanya stated that the re-introduction of monthly sanitation exercise in FCT Area Councils by the minister was a step in the right direction but added that there was need for regular monitor by officials of the FCT Administration.
“I think the most important thing to do to achieve the desired cleanliness in Kuje and other area councils are for the council to embark on aggressive sensitization. People need to be sensitize on the dangers of dirty environment. It is funny but some people do not know that there is health implications of dirty environment. I think that the area councils are not doing anything to get the people informed.
“With the re-introduction of the sanitation exercise, we can see that the minister has shown commitment to promote sanitation in FCT, health officials in the various councils and FCTA must live up to expectations to enlighten the people,” she said.
A resident of Gwagwalada in Gwagwalada area council, Andy Kanu, while agreeing to the sensitization of the residents, also blamed the dirtiness in the territory on failure to regularly evacuate refuse dumps by the councils.
“I can remember that there was a time that all the roads in Gwagwalada were littered with refuse. I don’t know what really happened then but it was wasn’t a good experience. Even now, regular evacuation of refuse is still not being abide to,” he said.
Kanu stated that over the years, the council had continuously failed the people but called for policies that would bring about a regular evacuation of refuse in the area adding that such measures will definitely restore the confidence of residents in the council.
Kanu who stated that sanitation was a collective thing, added that if residents would work hard, ensuring that refuse from their homes were gathered at the various points, it was left for the council administration to do their part and complement the residents’ effort.
“We are all in support of the exercise. The minister started on a good note and we pray it will continue that way because we have seen situations in Gwagwalada where refuse dump had almost cover the entire road without evacuation. We pray as this exercise continues, we will not experience that again,” he said.
For Amina Ibrahim, a resident of Kubwa, Bwari area council, if the area councils are to be sincere in the implementation of the newly launched monthly sanitation exercise, dirty environment in the FCT will become a thing of the past.
“There are so many things the councils should do. We cannot talk about sanitation without provision for evacuation from the various points. This issue is an important issue and should be a daily affairs or weekly affairs. If it is left to pile up, it is another problem,” she said.
Ibrahim also called on the area councils’ administration to bring out designated refuse dumped where there are none, while urging them to designate protected places as refuse dumps so as not to affect the health of people living around that particular area.
While expressing hope that residents of the territory would be ready to pay their bills if the evacuation was regular and consistent, Ibrahim stated that the past experiences by the residents as pertaining evacuation has made them uncooperative.
He advocated for a change of attitude on the part of residents adding that the act of dumping refuse in drainage system during rains was a major cause of flooding in the area.
A resident of Dutse Alhaji in Bwari area council, Gabriel Isah also agreed that the sanitation exercise cannot be successful without the residents’ cooperation and called on FCT residents to have an attitudinal change and ensure that they take advantage of the various designated dumping points across the councils.
“We need an attitudinal change in keeping our environment clean. We have been talking about change; change is not all about government alone. Change is also about each and every one of us as individuals. If we do not take sanitation as our collective responsibility, then there will be a problem.
“We cannot continue to wait for government. We have to do our own part because when there is any outbreak of any disease in our area, it affects us. We have to wake up and cannot wait for government to do everything for us.
“We must keep our surrounding clean to guide against infections before calling for assistance from government. Let us all do our part while we still remind government to do theirs. We also await on the area councils to bring back the use of its health officials as it is done in the past to inspect houses and ensure that defaulters are prosecuted. This is because some residents even with all the awareness, can still be stubborn unless there is something they have to lose.
While speaking on the minister’s proposed reward to the cleanest area council in the territory as means to ginger cleanliness in the councils, Daniel Nath stated that such measures might work if it is really followed up.
The minister had stated that his administration considered the policy of reward and punishment as it concerned environmental sanitation to encourage the residents to proactively clean their immediate environment.
According to the minister, the chairman of the cleanest Council at the end of the year would be recognised and would enjoy certain privileges even at the national level.
“I agree with the minister that there is the need to go back to the old ways of keeping our environment clean necessitated the introduction of the FCT household and community sanitation exercise. But he need to keep to his promise for it to work. The traditional rulers in the councils should be involve, including health officials from the councils,” he said.
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