POLEMICS: PERENNIAL REFUSE PYRAMIDS COLONIES OF UMUAHIA AND ABA

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By Shaft

This is a condensed audit report on environmental management and sanitation of Abia State. The report represents some fair attempts (it is impractically feasible to present comprehensive, holistic report herein though desirable) on the state of the sordid unsanitary environmental conditions of Umuahia Abia State Capital, and Aba, the economic nerve center of the State in respect of heaps of refuse pyramids and mounds spread within the two urban towns and the vicinities. Coupled with the potentially threatening ominous health implications and other hazardous consequences thereof. Significantly, Umuahia, in this dimension is symbolically the micro-replica of the macro-scenario in Aba, commercial nerve center of Abia State, one of the densely inhabited populous cities in South East Zone. It would be incorrect and grossly misleading to imply or assume that Aba and Umuahia would be reasonably assessed on the same levels or parameters on account of the distinct differences, peculiarities and magnitude of some critical considerations. Umuahia, juxtaposed against Aba in these contexts is similar to equating a hamlet to a sprawling metropolis, even as ant is incomparable to elephant, (acknowledged motif/symbol of Aba: Enyimba). The disproportionate contrasts in the heaps of refuse mounds in the two main urban centers can be contextualized and extrapolated using the following analogies and paradigms as guidelines.

Specifically given the immensely increasing burgeoning size of Aba; the population density; volume of steady-round-the-clock commercial and industrial activities, unquestionably the conditions in Aba are more devastating and disgusting. Thus, whatever arithmetic parameters or statistical data ascribed to Umuahia, accordingly need to be multiplied by at least 5 times (x 5) in order to capture fairly the situation in Aba, based on the distinctive comparative contrasts in demographics and other factors. Umuahia and Aba undeniably are decorated and dotted in many locations by colonies of refuse mounds of different composition, size and age with the resultant health hazards closely associated.

Compounding the matter is the unimpressive manner the government and the its organs have either failed to respond appropriately but displayed lethargically incoherent, uncoordinated, tepid initiatives in bringing the situation under proper and total control. Government’s approaches and responses appear to rely more on emergency, spontaneous-quick-fix-ad hoc methodologies instead of well-designed and articulated, coordinated and streamlined responsive mechanisms.

Notwithstanding fiscal budgets and other handy statutory miscellaneous/budgetary provisions carved out for the effective protection of the environment, refuse mounds and pyramids are the order-of-the-day in Umuahia and Aba and environs. The examples of the budgetary provisions are some of the baffling ironies or paradoxes surrounding the issues of refuse scourge in consideration of healthy, safe environment given the abundance of health institutions and professionals in Abia State. The situation generally may not be described as catastrophic but in reality the prevailing situation is not far from catastrophic. If the situation continues and lingers, it is only a matter of time before inevitable but avoidable catastrophes strike. 

Perplexing Ponderous Issues

We begin here by asking some pertinent questions and seeking answers accordingly from the relevant and appropriate quarters.

Do we assume or suppose Government and the appropriate organs saddled with this important responsibility lack the necessary capacities, knowledge and expertise to perform this task effectively?

 Is it a matter of willful negligence and abdications of statutory responsibilities?

Is it a norm that refuse mounds, unsanitary environment, and concomitant serious dangers posed to health is integral part of Abia State Government-breed-of-democratic-bonus and dividends?

 Many pertinent questions but available space herein is not enough. Imagine the litany of questions crowding and pestering many concerned minds.

Consider other important issues and contexts. Government should not just brood or gloss over these questions. Government purportedly as a responsible institution can’t afford the luxury of keeping quiet or displaying  some kind of dignified silence or adamant disposition. Government needs to articulate fast and provide reasonable answers to these burdensome questions if government truly believes it is accountable as a trustee to the populace and critical stakeholders in governance.

 Why Urgent Action Is Necessary

Government can provide answers to these curious issues using any variety of appropriate means or measures to demonstrate its concern/seriousness. It includes but not restricted to timely application and invocation of appropriate sanctions against acts of indolence and unsatisfactory performance by the agencies/organs responsible. Proper and effective use of government’s authority and power when there is need are integral parts and the essence of governance: reward or punish accordingly noteworthy conducts or failure in the discharge of duty. For instance the Big Boss who calls the final shots in government can apply necessary sanctions in this matter and justifiably in the present circumstances. The business of government as an institution includes wielding the big stick to sanction erring, un-performing, under-performing government officials and employees who either fail or have failed to perform in tune with expectation on one hand. On the other hand protect the rights of the citizenry against such acts of violations of duty and redundancy. Government’s payroll ideally has no place for such personnel and tax payers monies must not be squandered on undeserving workforce.

It is the rights of the citizens to live and operate in healthy and safe environment (HSE). These rights have been violated brazenly either by acts of deliberate negligence or deliberate omission. Appropriate sanctions should come into effect to serve as deterrent in future. *Polemics*believes the Big Boss knows exactly what to do or what is expected to be done to these breed of agencies that seem to be sabotaging the efforts of the Government in effective waste disposal and management. The Boss is expected to halt this downward spiral accordingly except the Boss has some good excuses or reasons beyond ordinary comprehension of the common man or woman secluded from the corridors of power.

Unless the hands of the Boss are tied by some unseen hands or circumstances any other persons are incapable of understanding if properly explained; except there are some skeletons on the shelves or ghosts/shadows scaring the Boss, unless, unless, and unless some curious issues are playing out, there are no justifications for the Boss to withhold or be restrained from applying appropriate sanctions now.

 The Boss ideally can decode these health-sensitive-issues without the aid of extrasensory power by ikota signs and acknowledge the evidence of harmful health implications inherent and arrest the situation.

The MDAs in charge and the officials coordinating things are just dozing and snoring-on-duty and do not deserve any more pampering. Unless (here again I am relying and basing my reasoning and analysis of the perceived inertia on the part of Government on introspective and speculative logical perceptions to deconstruct the mindsets of policy and decision makers) and wonder if there are some sticky matters or dramas happening behind-the-scenes.

The pertinent question is why and what stops the Boss to roar into concrete actions to demonstrate his dissatisfaction and displeasure with the turn of events and sordid state of the environment. Inaction on the part of the Boss definitely could imply so many things inwardly/outwardly with grave unpalatable interpretations on the activities of the government. It is sincerely desired the Government would not inflict further unnecessary damage on the image or perceptions of the Government in terms of indictment especially by failing to take corrective and remedial measures. Action! This is action time. Please. Clean and safe environment ought to be of special interest and dear to the Governor specifically on the basis the Governor superintended over affairs as the Boss of Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) before his ascendance as the Chief Servant of Abia State. On the strength of this fact alone  ASEPA ought to be the best or among the best performing government agencies/organs. Unfortunately the reverse is the case. The opposite exactly is what is obtainable and is glaring. How unfortunate, indeed! *Polemics*find it extremely curious and difficult to rationalize the reasons or excuses to justify why ASEPA is handling its mandate negligently and lackadaisically?

Come to think of it Umuahia, Abia State Capital and environs comparatively does not measure up to the size of Mainland, one the LGAs in Lagos State but Umuahia is the poster-state-capital of refuse colonies as a result of ASEPA’s abysmal record of below average performance. 

If Government is defaulting or deficient in performing relatively simple tasks of ensuring clean and safe environment, in what other critical areas can the Government be expected to be effective if we sincerely think seriously in terms of more complex tasks such as provisions of social amenities and infrastructure?  We believe Government would rise up and be spurred into action.

The Deficits In HSE

Management Systems  

If Government is sluggish or reluctant as it appears to bulldoze aside government officials/personnel and any other parties who have constituted great impediments on the part of Government one way or the other in providing clean and safe environment (which we all can see with the aid of eyes and inhale the fouled air discharged by the decomposing refuse heaps) what hope is there Government can effectively, even tamely attempt to discipline and sanction accordingly persons who fail to live up to expectation in handling government affairs and business specifically in the inner recesses/sanctuaries of government shielded from public viewing and scrutiny? 

Doctrines of Accountability and Responsibility are two sides of the coin in the contexts of corporate governance and due process. No other public institution or organization has greater duty and obligation more than government and its organs in adhering to or observing strictly these critical components and tenets of democratic system of leadership. Abia State Government likewise by no means is an exception. Accountability and Responsibility in all facets remain the yardsticks but regrettably these twin hallmarks are in serious deficits in Health Safety and Environment (HSE) management systems in Abia State. These systemic anomalies and structural deficiencies must give way to acceptable standards if we are to halt the steady slide and decline in the environmental sector.

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1 Comment
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