It is always said that cleanliness is next to Godliness but in the case of Asaba, Delta state capital, reverse has always been the case. Asaba and Delta state in general, according to respondents, remain the most dirtiest among other states in Nigeria.
A drive round the capital city of the oil rich state is self explanatory as dirt packaged in bags and nylons are seen littered every nook and cronies especially pavements along the popular Ogbeogonogo market, Ezeini Avenue, Ibusa road, Nnebisi road, Jesus Saves road, as well as the Benin-Asaba expressway among others
In an interview with a cross section of residents in Delta state, they described the entire state, especially the state capital, Asaba as dirtiest in Nigeria, blaming it on the inability of governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the state commissioner for Environment and the Waste Management Board to take seriously the issue of cleanliness in the state.
According to a former councilor and member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Oshimili South local government area, it would have been better if Governor Okowa could take seriously the issue of cleanliness in Asaba and the entire state just as he has taken seriously the issue of awarding of juicy contracts to his family members and cronies adding that following the lack of commitment and interest on the part of government in the issue of cleanliness, hence Asaba and the state is been described as the dirtiest in the whole of Nigeria.
The Oshimili South local government chairman, Mr. Chuks John Obusom had recently bemoaned the almost epidemic and sorry situations Asaba, the Delta state capital has become.
He disclosed that the hope of the exercise to clean Asaba, which was ongoing smoothly through synergy through an Inter-ministerial committee comprising the local government council, the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), the Waste Management Board and the Ministry of Environment was dashed.
Obusom, HardReporters gathered gave this revelation last week when the leadership and members of the Indigenous Correspondents’ Chapel (ICC) of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Council paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Asaba.
“If I must be sincere, I am not pleased with the situation we have in Asaba, the challenge we have there is that Asaba is a capital territory and why the local government has a constitutional responsibility for cleaning the environment and sanitation which basically we handle through the monthly environmental sanitation, we have other stakeholders as well as the Ministry of Environment, Waste Management Board and Delta Capital territory and the local government.
“But surprisingly, the waste management board said it is now their sole responsibility to relate with the PSPs and there is no need ruffling shoulder. We have to allow them to manage them. So, the extent they have managed them, all of us are seeing. I am not indicting anybody but what I wanted to say is that we have started a synergy, a collaborative approach but the waste management board said it is their sole responsibility to manage the PSPs and probably, it is not helping matters.” Obusom said.
According to Obusom, discussions are in top gear to see how best the state capital could wear a new look, “But I believe we are talking with the ministry of environment and of course, the waste management board to see how we can review our pattern to ensure that Asaba gets a better approach. I must admit, it is one aspect that I feel bitter about but I do know with our hands be on deck, we will be able to work things out”.
Throwing more light on how it all started, Obusom disclosed that at assumption of office in 2014, the State Employment And Expenditure For Results Project (SEEFORE) were the body in charge of Private Sector Participants (PSPs) who were saddled with the responsibility of refuse collection.
“When we came on board, we tried to streamline them when the SEEFORE tenure expired. What we did was to setup an Inter-Ministerial Committee; the council chairman, waste management board, ministry of environment and SSG. All of us formed into an Inter-Ministerial Committee and we screened all the PSPs.
“Initially, they were about fifty something and we discovered that they didn’t have the facilities for clearing of refuse. Initially, we reduced them to 17 which created a lot of uproar and eventually we came together, we got up to 33 and the initial challenge we were having was that the house owners were to pay to the banks and they were having some challenges.
“But we said let the PSPs collect their monies and make some remittances to the three operator that is, the local government, waste management board and environment but surprisingly, the waste management board said it is now their sole responsibility to relate with the PSPs.” Obusom said.