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Moses Obroku: The Government Will Not Clean Up Nigeria



Many Nigerians have dirty habits, and there is nothing unpatriotic about this admission of fact. We throw garbage indiscriminately all around. There is no limit to what such trash could be. From food wrappings of every description, empty water sachet, plastic bottles, paper, moi-moi leaf and even diapers.

Rather than leave trash inside a vehicle, people casually fling them onto the roads.  Pedestrians are not left out of this horrific behavior either. It is not uncommon to find someone who had just finished munching suya to drop the wrapping anywhere.

When it rains in certain places, people hastily drag out their trash and empty them into drainages. They hope the impromptu current will carry such trash to anywhere else. We have little sense of waste recycling. They have little understanding of separation of plastic from paper or metal wastes; urinating or even defecating on the road is hardly a taboo.

It is almost normal seeing a man alight from his pricey car to take a leak by the roadside. Physiologically, it is convenient for men to do so, needing very little privacy.

Mechanics pour waste oil just about anywhere they find. In areas where there is Government-private sector participation in waste collection, some people refuse to pay for the service. They keep dumping the trash by their gates till if forms an unbearable heap.

We are a hazard unto our environment, and our own ecological disaster waiting to happen.

Yet, we are the first to complain when we get the effect of what we have caused. The rate of unintentional living here is unbelievable. People have no sense of responsibility to the environment; so they wage war against it continually.

Nigeria as a nation is oblivious to all those talks around the world about a cleaner environment. We hardly concern ourselves with melting glaciers, carbon emissions, the use of bio-degradable materials for certain products, recycling, or all those boring talks by all those oyinbo scientists. It mainly concerns itself with consumption alone. Even at that, the least of our trouble is what to do with the wastes generated after consuming everything. Or like most people insist, ‘the government’ did not put in place cleanliness enforcement mechanisms to compel people to desist from littering the environment.

But let’s us think about it for a moment; how many government officials are there to monitor defaulters, a few hundred thousand? And how many are the rest of us who need to be whipped to the obedience of environmental laws? You guessed right, nearly two hundred million! Does it not make sense that we build a proper waste management culture from our homes?

I see those people in orange jumpsuits sweeping Lagos highways every day. That, I believe is a gesture from the Lagos State Government towards a cleaner metropolis. But no matter how efficiently those people try to keep the roads clean, the disgraceful filth remains.

One afternoon, I was sitting in the car around Ikeja High Court premises when two teenage girls walked past me. True to type, one of them threw the plastic cup she drank from on the ground right in front of my car. I called them back. ‘You are students right?’ They nodded. ‘You know you should not be throwing things on the road’ I continued, as they regarded me like I was speaking Hindi. I proceeded to give them a crash course on why we should not throw trash around. ‘Please pick that cup; I am sure you will find a trash bin nearby to put it in’. I concluded my environmental law crash course. They mumbled between them, as the culprit picked the cup up, and they went away.

I knew I did not make any point when I looked at my side mirror and saw them swinging their arms happily. I looked at the ground a few meters away, and surely the cup was back there. It was a sad realization for me that there already exists the next generation of those who will destroy our environment further. Maybe I would have made the point to those recalcitrant teenagers if I wore a uniform and held a horsewhip.

During a slow moving traffic one other time, the driver to my right bought a music CD from a vendor. I watched as he tore the plastic wrapping off it and yes, he threw it on the road. As I drew up close to him, I got more infuriated when I and realized he was Caucasian.

With nationalistic zeal and irritation for environmental abuse, I confronted him. ‘Can you do this nonsense in your country, how can you throw trash on the road?’ Assumption is when you imagine a Caucasian did not grow up in Warri. ‘Wetin concern you inside, abi na your head I throway am put?’ He responded in flawless Pidgin English, with that Ajegunle accent that convinced me he grew up in Nigeria. Too shocked for words, I just wound up and moved on.

We have poor environmental culture, yet wonder why the Island got flooded some weeks ago. Land reclamation through sand-filling the lagoon and constructing houses where water shoreline should be is standard practice to us.What is more, we further block drainage pathways to the lagoon and violate every rule in relating with the environment. And while people affected by the flood grieved the devastation of their experience, others gloated over their misery on social media. The kind of callousness we are exhibiting today to nature and one another is stifling as it is terrifying.

Anyone over 30 years of age will realize we have been experiencing unprecedented heat of late. Whether we act or not, nature will keep manifesting. And as the flooding in Niger State that same weekend proved with its fatalities, the ecological issue is not just a ‘coastal state or Lekki problem’ alone.

We can continue to attack the environment all we want while praying to God to save us from torrential rainfalls. The joke will still remain on us, as nature continues to unleash its fury in response to our provocations.

Photo Credit: Atholpady | Dreamstime

Aside from being a lawyer, migration management expert, security personnel and fitness buff; there are many other sides to me. I am also a self -proclaimed foodie (and oh yes, to complement that, I can cook!). Of course, writing is my passion and I have a mission to inspire my world, one person at a time. I can be reached on [email protected] Instagram: @mosesobroku


  1. J

    July 14, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Honestly, I wish we would just do our part. Its very frustrating when I see people drop trash on the floor.
    I can boldly say I never ever drop trash on the floor. Learnt that from primary school and I live like that till today.
    Wish we would all just do our part before we complain about the government.
    Thanks for this.

  2. Van

    July 14, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    This comes down to socialization at the local level. Communities and city officials are most important here. Every country goes through this.

  3. Mbe

    July 14, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Its actually hard finding a decent place to dispos3 trash in this country. You can walk miles before you see one. I had to enter a bank to diapose a plastic bottle once.

    • lol

      July 14, 2017 at 6:46 pm

      I can relate to this. When I first got back I felt some how dropping stuffs on the road, I still do “Sometimes”

    • Van

      July 14, 2017 at 6:57 pm

      It’s that hard to install public trash and recycling cans/bins?

  4. Anonymous B

    July 14, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Let’s talk about those who come to America or Europe , throw thrash the right way. In thrash cans provided . They obey traffic signs .
    So I know Nigerians can learn and adapt . They aren’t stupid . They understand the repercussions . They just don’t care about their land or country. But in another mans country they’ll do everything right .
    When you see how a system works you’re supposed to emulate it .
    When you return to Nigeria , keep your thrash till you see a thrash can and dispose of it . It’s the right thing to do. I used to just throw thrash everywhere cus I didn’t know or understand , but once you learn and know better please tell the next person. It’s not rocket science!!!

  5. Enough Please

    July 14, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    We’ve flogged this issue enough.
    Every one and his neighbor wants to practice literary skills.

    We know the problems.
    We know the effect of the problems.



  6. lol

    July 14, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    If not for the sake of commenting, I wouldn’t have read this trash to the last bit. I have always had this argument with some of my pals, those with the so called nationalistic virtues, lol, here is my position. I have had the opportunity to live abroad at least for 5 years before I came back to Nigeria, and as far as I can recall all the street where I lived then had this metallic trash cans every 10 foots away, of course if you were snacking before you finish eating you most have past many trash can reminding you to do the needful when you are done. Throw the trash inside the bin. But in Nigeria you see none. At least in the mainland where I live. So if someone was eating gala where would they drop the wrap? If you were in a public bus, in the evening the driver will still learn his bus and sweep the rubbish to the floor inside. Car park somewhere because there was no trash can in sight. Let’s go back to our homes, I pay this bin pickers in lag I don’t know what they are called, but before you see them to empty your bin it’s like once a month. Of cause if it rains one man woman somewhere will use the avenue to empty her bin inside the rain before the bin pickers are taking too long to come. If the govt would do their bits first, by putting trash cans on road sides, people would subconsciously obey. After even in the West I have seen people dropping stuffs on the road side even when they are a few steps away from the trash cans. But the majority uses those cans that’s why those places are cleaner, so I believe if the Nigerian government would do the needful, people will obey. At least majority of the people will obey as it is in the West.

  7. Honiilols

    July 14, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    Not at all Van. It isn’t hard one but to have bins in public places, in fact I can say there are more trash cans in Lagos now than there were some 4-5 years ago. The real challenge is getting people to use them. Some folks would rather litter the streets than walk a mere 2 meters to dispose dirt.

    My house is a very good example. We have this big LAWMA bin right at the entrance of our house but one of my neighbors would rather dump their trash carelessly regardless. I honestly don’t understand why we act the way we do sometimes. Saving dirt in your bag till you find a waste bin may not exactly be hygienic but keep it somehow till you find one.

    Be intentionally responsible environmentally!

  8. AdaAda

    July 14, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Truth be told it was due to spending four years in Covenant University that thought me not to throw trash in the floor. The school was spick and span and there was a dustbin at every point of the school. Over time I felt silly throwing g trash in the floor and I’d rather put trash in my bag or carry it home than throw it on the floor . I believe it’s carelessness and sinful even to destroy your environment .

  9. nnenne

    July 15, 2017 at 12:30 am

    We. Should do our best but our governments, at all levels ought to do better about our environmental sanitation. A good environment fosters good health! They have failed totally in this area.
    Private individuals can set up their companies also, collecting and disposing trash. If I have the money to buy the trucks , I would do that. Lots of money to be made. Collaborate with the authorities and get a disposal site.
    Now, you all have a business idea.

  10. Victor Adegoke

    July 15, 2017 at 7:34 am

    The Govt cannot do everything, the citizens should also be responsible and supportive in cleaning their environment, by observing health hygienes.

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