Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



By Alfred Adegoke

On 25th June, 2011 the Osun State Government commenced a compulsory environmental sanitation exercise which unlike what obtains in some other States e. g. Lagos State as a monthly exercise, the Aregbesola’s Government imposed a 90 (ninety) days exercise during which the Markets are closed 7.00am- to 9.00am, ditto for Schools/ Offices on Friday 7.00am- to 9.00am while the climax comes up every Saturday 7.00 am. – 10.00 am. To cap it all, there is restriction of movement at these hours.

We in the DSM call on the Government to review this programme by removing the aspect relating to restriction of movement from the environmental sanitation exercise and to address the primary cause of the dirty environment if the exercise will not be an exercise in futility or window dressing. A Yoruba wise saying goes that it is better to give urgent attention to leprosy instead of treating ring worm.

In the first instance given the level of infrastructural decay in public facilities the dirt are bound to be generated continually. For example the need of close communities for modern toilet facilities, modern housing schemes, good health care facilities and potable water has not been met by the government. Potable water, for instance, has stop running for years in most areas meanwhile the government is yet to meet its promise to provide potable water to improve the environmental health of the citizens.

The o’clean scheme has already almost collapsed in the communities because the OYES members who act as refuse collectors, apparently out of frustration arising from poor and hazardous working conditions, usually rain curses and abuses on anyone who dare place any refuse bag or excrement for that matter at the refuse collection points. As a result the streets are now huge obscenities as the refuse are dumped at the streets corners which have become points of collection of human waste.

We have always stressed the point that the government should not see the OYES as a scheme of cheap labour for dirty jobs but rather should make the equipments and facilities available not only for the OYES but for the communities. OYES members must also be paid living wage and made to enjoy all the rights and privileges of civil servants. Refuse collection containers should be made available at every street corners to be emptied by Refuse collection vehicles regularly instead of the hand to broom method of the OYES as well as the huge environmental hazards caused the communities by open Street refuse dumps.

The government must give attention to infrastructures and basic needs like good water, housing, drainages, hospitals, gainful employment and other facilities which can make living condition better for the generality of the people.

Also as a result of high level of hunger, poverty and unemployment, struggle for survival is almost a daily affair. The early hours of Saturday are so crucial to the working and poor people in the state in daily search for solution to the economic and personal problems confronting them. Thus, the restrictions on movement could only end up compounding their suffering. The government on its own had suspended the program twice to accommodate the Examinations into the Federal Government Colleges and Post JAMB. This is a pointer to the enormous inconveniences that could be caused by the restrictions. It should be stopped.

There are many ways in which government can make the environment cleaner. If governments strive to provide basic amenities, infrastructures and decent housing as well as refuse disposal facilities at the streets, communities and markets, people will be more impressed that the government means well and thereby imbibe the culture of cleanliness without coercion or restrictions.

In addition government can enforce the laws which are abundant, both in the criminal code as well as the health and environmental laws to compel any health offender to comply instead of subjecting innocent citizens who have complied with painful restriction of their movement.

In addition the Constitution guarantees fundamental right to freedom of movement to move freely without restrictions within Nigeria (save for limits covered by the constitution which does not include environmental sanitation) hence the restrictions itself is a violation of the constitution which should not be allowed to continue.

We call on Governor Rauf Aregbesola to direct that restrictions of movement of persons or their vehicles during the exercise be stopped forthwith in the better interest of the general public and poor masses of Osun State who are adversely affected by the restriction of movement.