I was going through a Facebook narration by John Offiong of his experience with litter, yesterday in Union Station, Washington DC and he concluded his article thus:
‘’Truth is, our people are mostly very dirty people living in a filthy country and our cities can bear witness to this assertion. Even my beloved Calabar is fast challenging to Aba as Nigeria’s garbage hub and Oh!!! My heart breaks!
If Calabar has become dirty and filthy, then Nigeria is in trouble, environmentally. Indeed, people should never LITTER our cities with waste and the government should never also DITHER over management of waste.’’
This worrisome lamentation struck an emotional and familiar chord. Then, while browsing the internet, I got some heart-warming news:
‘’Following the inability of the contracted firms handling evacuation of refuse in Calabar metropolis to meet their obligations, the Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade has announced an immediate termination of their contracts.
“It will be recalled that during a tour of the metropolis shortly after assuming office, Governor Ayade had given the contractors a three-month ultimatum to improve on the sanitary condition of the metropolis with the view to restoring its rightful status as the cleanest and greenest state in the country which they fail.
“The governor, who expressed disappointment at the level of evacuation by the firms in Calabar South and some parts of Calabar Municipality on Monday said government will no longer tolerate the inadequacies of the contractors and is now fully ready to take over the evacuation exercise forthwith.
“To this end, he directed the Secretary to the State Government to meet with the affected contractors to discharge government’s obligations to them. The governor consequently announced that the Calabar Urban Development Authority (CUDA) would henceforth be responsible for the evacuation of refuse in the city.’’
Whether it was a coincidence or providential intervention for the two articles to be released yesterday will be determined in the days and months to come.
We are far away from the days of Bassey Ekpo Bassey as the Chairman of the Calabar Municipality; where sanitation of Calabar was paramount to the government of the day.
Calabar has since grown and expanded – towards Akpabuyo and Odukpani Local Government Areas.
The new demands required of CUDA and the anticipated NEW contractors that would be saddled with the task of taking care of sanitary and sanitation problems of Calabar, would include: increasing the coverage zones and contractors and the tackling of the perennial problem of treatment, management and collection of human waste from individual homes and offices – most of which don’t have modern facilities for the disposal of human waste.
Now that Governor Ayade has decided to take the bull by the horns, the refuse will fight back. Those who have been benefitting from refuse in the motor parks and markets; from commercial vehicles, offices and homes – will fight back or at least step up efforts to undermine this new directive and direction. It is not going to be easy, but the Governor must stay the course to achieve progress in this sphere.
Let me conclude too by relying on a historical analogy of what Caesar did in a similar situation in 49 BC:
“At this time the northernmost border of the Roman territory in Italy is the River Rubicon. Once someone crosses the River Rubicon, he’s in Roman territory. A general must not cross that boundary with his army – he must do what the Romans call lay down his command, which means surrender his right to order troops, and certainly not be carrying weapons. Caesar and his armies hesitate quite a while at this river while Caesar decides what to do, and Caesar tells us that he informs his soldiers that it’s a little tiny bridge across the river, but once they cross it they’ll have to fight their way all the way to Rome, and Caesar is well aware that he’s risking not just his own life, but those of his loyal soldiers, and he might not win. Pompey is a formidable enemy.
“Finally he makes a decision, it’s time to go, and he uses a gambling metaphor: he says ‘Roll the dice’, ‘Alea jacta est’. Once the dice start rolling they cannot be controlled, even though we don’t know what it is as the dice roll and tumble. Julius and his men swiftly cross the river and they march double time toward Rome. — Titchener, To Rule Mankind and Make the World Obey’’
Governor Ayade’s direct intervention then translates idiomatically to: the future is determined; there are no more options; events will proceed in an irreversible manner; the point of no return has been passed. I have reflected on this and concluded too that, ‘’Alea iacta est’’ – the die has been cast.
Orok Otu Duke
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