Though strictly speaking a positivist and so subscribing to the positivist view of law as a command given by a political superior to a subordinate and backed by sanctions (of course, I am aware that there are problems with this definition), I am nevertheless an equally fervent believer in Roscoe Pounds interpretation of law as a veritable tool for social engineering. In view of that fact, it behooves not only our legislatures every where to utilize their law making powers to help bring about an environmentally sustainable polity, but equally too, we citizens as potential beneficiaries of a sanitized system to participate in the process of law making and law observance.

As often as we care to look for it in Nigeria, remarkably we always find laws for the regulation of hitherto apparently unregulated or legislatively unaddressed issues in the land. Environmental protection is a case in point. The Federal environmental Protection Agency Act no. 14 of 1999 ,earlier finding life as no.58 of1988 and the FEDA decree no. 59 of 1992 respectively is instructive. It is an act which establishes the agency of that name with the function of protecting and developing the environment and bio-diversity conservation of Nigeria’s natural resources…. (S.5 thereof). Another is the Environmental sanitation law cap E5 of Lagos state . It is styled “A law to provide for Environmental Sanitation in Lagos State, to establish the Environmental Sanitation Corps and for connected purposes”. In view of the discussion at hand, let us consider briefly a few provisions of that law.

Section one of the law mandates every owner, tenant and occupier of any building to amongst others, a) keep clean the sidewalks and gutter area (45cm from the side walk into the street) along the building frontage, sides and back at all times….h) not litter, sweep out ,or throw ashes, refuse, paper, nylon, and rubbish into any street, public place or vacant plot. The penalty for non compliance as provided by the first schedule for the first a), is a minimum fine of N500, maximum N2,500 (side walks), and N1,000 minimum, N2,500 maximum for failure to clean drains and gutter area. For the second- h), a fine of between N500 and N2, 500.

Section four provides that no pedestrian shall dispose of any scrap paper, newspaper, candy wrapper, fruit skin and similar refuse anywhere except in litter bins. Presumably offenders of this section are liable to the same fine as those who litter the street as found above. Section five imposes an obligation on every commercial vehicle to carry litter bins. I can count the number of Lagos commercial buses that I have entered in my life’s sojourn so far that complied with this provision.

Section seven provides that no person shall dispose of refuse or waste except through a private sector participation operator. Although Lagos State Management Agency (LAWMA) has been doing a highly commendable job, many people still violate this tenet on a regular basis. What is the laws bill?-where that waste is burned, between N5, 000 to N10, 000. Section sixteen equally provides that no person shall leave silt, earth or other materials excavated during construction or maintenance of drains on the road roadside beyond 48 hours. The fine for non compliance with this is N1, 000 minimum and N5, 000 maximum. People still widely flout this regulation. There are also like provisions it should be noted for the regulation of markets, bukkas, restaurants, hotels, carpentry and mechanic workshops, iron mongers/workshops, construction companies, brick and tile industries and the like.

Thus from the foregoing it can be clearly seen that government has put into place laws geared towards the attainment of a clean, hygienic and aesthetically pleasing environment. What is lacking irrespective of the existence of the Environmental Sanitation Agency Law Cap E6 is like much legislation in Nigeria, enforcement. Now although nobody is praying for the good old Buhari styled administration of yesteryears, it is incontrovertible that at least with respect to environmental sanitation and enforcement, till date that administration remains an unrivalled champion.

The situation in Nigeria today with respect to the issue of compliance reminds one of the differing approaches taken by two European countries England and Germany with respect to tax administration. Whereas the former leans more towards persuasion and an appeal to the societal values of the British public, the latter is more force driven with its emphasis on tax enforcement using the police . We could go the way of the British and perhaps have to wait for some hundred odd years before the average Nigerian imbibes the values germane to a clean environment, or we can go the way of the Germans. If the last performance of these two teams in the recently concluded world cup is anything to go by, the German option is no doubt the better one. However this is not football and we don’t need an octopus Paul to tell us that we will definitely end up on the losing side should we fail to sit up to this and other like issues. I bet you other documentaries will come that will paint our cities and institutions in a worse light.

So what do I suggest? Look, we can have it both ways. First, our sanitation law needs to be rigorously enforced. In fact if need be scapegoats should be made of some people to serve as a deterrent to others. In that instance, not only will people be mindful to make sure that they observe environmental sanitation laws individually but also pro-active in stopping others from contravening them. This holds true especially where not doing this could lead to they themselves being punished. For example where they fail to stop somebody else from littering their gutter and building areas (as provided under section one, Para. a).
Section thirty of the same law (Lagos Sate Environmental Sanitation Law) provides for the establishment of an Environmental sanitation corps. Whereas section thirty one to thirty five provides variously for membership, appointment of, registration, identification card and comprehensive register of members, it is pertinent to note that membership needs to be opened up to other interested individuals apart from the five persons from each registered Community Development Association; one person from every approved market in the state; and one person from each ward in every local government in the state as the law provides. I for one having an interest in environmental sustainability would not mind being a “part time” member (since it is voluntary) if such is possible.
In Lagos state where you have roughly 33,000 officers to a population of 18,000,000 , working out to 1 police man per 545 persons, the number of “corps” members that the law provides for and that are on active service is inadequate. Accordingly their numbers need to be greatly increased. (They need to be out there in the society working. People need to feel their existence before they will/ can be respected). This may take a toll on the resources of the state, but if that be the case, owing to relative distrust to which the average police man is held by Nigerians, I see no reason why either a special wing of LAWMA cannot be created to enforce this law or provide these functions (This is particularly viable in the light of LAWMAs 25,000 strong staff ).

Alternatively some or all members of LAWMA can be simultaneously designated “corps” men with all the requisite powers of that office and an increment of their salary. I say this with all seriousness knowing full well the success of LATSMA and the fear with which erring members of the public, particularly “danfo” bus drivers hold them. However we cannot stop there. When a law is made, government and law making bodies should strive to equally make obedience to that law as easy as possible. In that wise, it is important for government to provide suitable waste disposal baskets at convenient spots all over the metropolis so that people will not be tempted as I have on several occasions been, to litter. In the absence of this alternative any law to ensure compliance with sound waste disposal is not only impractical but will ultimately fail.

Environmental sanitation reorientation: Environmental sanitation as a way of life. Having stated the above and having opted for the dual approach to environmental sanitation, we must now consider the place of environmental awareness and conscientisation as a working process towards that end. The government has indeed done much through advertisement and the like to bring this to our people. But this is not enough. Not only does this need to be reiterated, the messages have to be reinforced through popular culture mediums like music (afro hip-hop for instance), films (Nollywood) and by the corporate social responsibility drives of our businesses who are essentially better at cooking up or at least implementing interactive projects for it. For example I see no reason why a quarterly or bi-annual award of best environmentally clean street, district, business premises, L.C.D.A, local government council (for states this can be annually) cannot be initiated through some public/private or purely private initiative.

Alongside this as part of a purely privately organized venture, a sanitation lottery of sorts can be established. My proposed format for this is simple. The corporate organization involved divides each of Lagos 245 (federally recognized) wards of its 22 local government areas into between 5-10 districts depending on size. Everybody in the state who wishes to take part in the venture is to register online or through text message. All and sundry is encouraged to keep their environment clean. For those taking part in the venture they are to then send a picture showing the efforts they have been making to make sure their district and immediate surrounding is clean, via MMS or on line.

Thus for this purpose, although people may work individually, they will be encouraged to work as teams. Alternatively people need not have to send in their pictures but make sure that their houses and immediate environment are clean. On a monthly basis inspectors will go out to inspect and determine which 10 local government area are the cleanest and/most improved. From these 10 another raffle is done from which 5 local government areas will be selected. Now taking each local government area individually 5 wards are chosen by draw from each. From each of these wards, three districts are chosen and from each of these districts, persons exhibiting the cleanest work areas or home areas are awarded N50,000-N80,000 (depending on sponsoring power of corporation). To encourage continuity, persons in those districts winning prizes are eligible for the biannual draw for N1, 000,000 if they continue to maintain the cleanliness of the environment. Please note that inspection tours should be at any time but should not coincide with the monthly environmental sanitation so that participants do not pass its result off as their efforts towards the venture. Moreover note that since it is a monthly thing and a fresh exercise springs up immediately the draws and consequent sanitation/Keep Lagos Clean lottery winners are known, continuity in the sanitation exercise will more or less be ensured. Again there ought to be a television show to run concurrently with the venture, documenting each monthly inspection, participant effort and draws. (The author can be contacted for more details on the particulars of the venture and the problems likely to occur.) Note however that such sanitation lottery is not meant to be indefinite. It should serve merely as a leeway to helping people form the habit of cleanliness and environmental pro-activity.

This said, television and money alone though will not change people. Change and mindset reorientation is effected through engagement. Accordingly active awareness through the recruitment of trained young men and women to go into their communities to disseminate this information must be considered. There must be regular workshops to bring home the desirability of a clean environment to people and the prime actors in that venture must be the youth. In doing this the government should seek to bring NGOs with similar objectives on board. For all that it is worth if there already isn’t, it may be useful to set up a national online database of these NGOs as a tool towards their effective coordination and for information dissemination. The ultimate aim would be to make environmental sanitation a way of life. Next let us consider another idea. This idea takes us back to laws avowed social engineering tenet.
Share on Google Plus


The publications and/or documents on this website are provided for general information purposes only. Your use of any of these sample documents is subjected to your own decision NB: Join our Social Media Network on Google Plus | Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin