Open letter to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode
Editor's note: Salawu Ahmed Olatidoye in this piece urges Lagos state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to continue the monthly environmental sanitation exercise which was one of the ways the state has been able to control flood and other disasters.
It is no news that Lagos and some other states has been experiencing flood in recent times. In fact, the almighty Lekki and its environs are not spared. The flood so much covered the roads and floated cars like papers. The super homes were ravaged with flood and became a pool of some sort.
Interestingly, we all know the cause. Rain? Of course NO! It has been raining in Lagos before people started living in it. Successive generations have been able to manage heavier flood in the past. And in fact, the mainlands and its environs had been at the receiving end of the flood. But this year, almost every part of Lagos had its share.
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One of the ways the state has been able to control flood and other disaster is the monthly environmental sanitation exercise. This exercise has become a culture in Lagos for decades. The result has been so encouraging that other states had to copy it from Lagos in order to promote public health.
Every success must have its own challenges. The major challenge of the environmental sanitation exercise is the restriction of movement and its enforcement. Many residents of the state had complained bitterly about the way enforcement officers assault residents in the name of enforcement.
Due to this restriction, a resident of the state, Faith Okafor sued the Lagos State Government for unlawfully restricting her movement. She won at the Appeal Court in Lagos on the 9th of November, 2016. The court banned the state government from further restricting anyone's movement within Lagos state at any time or day whatsoever on the basis of environmental sanitation exercise as there is no written Law to that effect.
With this verdict and other issues, the Lagos state government swiftly responded by stopping the exercise. This came as a relief to the residents but it also added to the woes of the state as residents have neglected environmental exercise totally. Many areas are now refuse site and gutters/drainages are turned refuse dump. This has affected the free flow of water within the state. It has also affected public health in many ramifications.
With its consequences glaring to everyone, I believe the government should revisit the environmental exercise and look for ways to modify it rather than abolish it completely. It is a common knowledge that Nigerians find it hard to do the right thing except they are forced to do so. Little wonder successive administration has to enforce the policy.
However, if the court has declared that restricting people's movement is illegal because it is not in any written Law, the government can sponsor a bill to the Lagos House of Assembly to legalise the exercise.
Better still, the government can modify the exercise in a way it would not totally restrict the movement of the residents but would achieve its purpose. With these, issues like flooding and public health hazard among others would be reduced to the barest minimum.
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