Sierra Leone’s president appealed Tuesday for urgent help for the flood-hit capital of Freetown where more than 300 people have died, as rescue workers resumed the grim search for bodies. The Red Cross says it is struggling to excavate families buried deep in the mud that engulfed their homes, although several bodies were pulled up by machines…
The traffic was moving slowly. It was Friday afternoon, after all and everybody was going somewhere. If you go out on Friday in Lagos, traffic jam will definitely be part of your day. Lagosians are mobile like that on Fridays. Some are dressed in corporate wears, all tied and suited up in air conditioned cars, Others are in owambe uniforms, going somewhere to party. But everybody is in a hurry. Everybody is tense. You could see it on their faces. The sweat pouring down the faces and backs of those at the bus stops, the curses oozing from the mouths of the bus drivers and then the angry expressions of the corporate drivers even in the cool confines of their nice SUVs.
But I wasn’t angry or tense. It was one of those days when I’d decided the traffic jam wasn’t going to upset me. After three decades in this city, you gotta find a way to cope and keep your sanity. This Friday , I was just going to enjoy the view. Did you say what view? Look closely. Take another look. You’ll see that Lagos is one big entertainment venue. You just need to have a sense of humour. One day I will take us on a tour. Just not to day.
This Friday, I saw other things. Things that got me wondering and wandering.
The grill of the bus coming in the opposite direction is broken.
The rear light of the car in front of us is held together by cello tape.
The metal rails on both side of the road was broken or had been broken.
And then I heard my driver say: ‘is this one money?’ in Yoruba. We were at the toll gate and he had been handed a torn naira note as change. I told him to accept the torn legal tender and continue the journey.
I saw another car with a broken wiper, more like one wiper instead of two.
Then the broken roofs, windows and fences of an old housing estate. That particular estate has always bothered and embarrassed me, sitting there like a big smelly sore surrounded by wealth and affluence.
The car threw me around a bit as we hit a break in the road.
A broken wheel barrow and its load of broken bits and pieces of’ this and that struggled past.
Why is everything broken? Or it was just my imagination this hot afternoon?
Too many things are broken in Nigeria, right? It could be all those broken things at the back of my mind that are playing tricks on my eyes or just my eyes connecting to my mind.
Whatever way you look at it from, nothing is really as it should be.
I won’t start with the roads because even the blind knows that we can do so much better than we are doing and it is more than disheartening that we still have roads like the ones we have in an oil-rich nation like Nigeria.
Look at our health sector, so sadly and badly broken. And you wonder why that is. Why malaria keeps killing in millions Nigerian children every year. You wonder why installing cancer screening machines has become rocket science in Nigeria. Could it be that we are poorer than we are aware of or we simply don’t know where those equipment are assembled? Perhaps we just don’t care. Wait, maybe those life-saving machines are more expensive than power plants, refineries and the cost of fixing runways at the airport. Why do we after all these years still have no special fund to bring our hospitals out of the doldrums? Unless some miracle happened while we were sleeping, Nigeria has only seven radiotherapy machines that are in federal hospitals and one in a private hospital. Two of those machines are in Lagos. We have 36 governors, 36 Commissioners of Health and two Ministers of Health. 100,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed every year and the best we can do is machines that were manufactured a few years after Herbert Macaulay was born! A colleague died last year and it was during his last days that we discovered that even for proper diagnosis, he had to be flown abroad. Are we poor in the head or what? Please if you are a doctor, an oncologist, please help us out here. How much does it cost to buy these machines? How long will it take to bring them into the country? How many can we buy per year before we cover the country effectively?
Our hospitals are far from being what a Nigerian hospital should be and this goes beyond cancer management. I may not know how much life-saving machines cost but I know this much: a country that budgets for everything every year and achieves nothing every year is a dumb country. How about we just fix something each year instead of perambulating, speaking Englishes and generally failing woefully at everything?
Our education sector nko? We are now feeding primary school pupils and celebrating it. Shame on us. When I was in primary school, the UPN government then under late Governor Bola Ige bought us textbooks. It was kept in big wooden boxes in each classroom with the class teacher as the custodian. So, whether your parents were rich or poor, every pupil had access to David-West dictionary, Lacombe for Mathematics, Day-by-Day for English and indeed all textbooks. We all had books. That was worth celebrating. If you are a governor and all your pupils have textbooks provided by you and then in addition you are providing meals, stand up and take a bow. If you are doing only food, sit down and keep your head bowed until you have bought the books.
However, the good thing about broken things is they can be fixed. We can fix our schools and our hospitals. I was in Osun state last weekend and I saw school buildings, education infrastructure that will still be standing long after Governor Rauf Aregbesola has gone. I saw roads and bridges being built ahead of their time. I saw a governor working ahead of present needs of his people. I have seen plenty of work being done in Adamawa, Sokoto and Ebonyi.
Some states are working but there is still so much to be done. The crop of governors we have now must buckle up. The federal government must wake up too. We cannot continue to do the same old things that didn’t work and expect our national life to change while we sit on our hands. Greatness don’t just happen to nations. Greatness needs practiced hands and focused planning is key. Political rhetoric, and all talk no action, will not take us anywhere. Playing to the gallery won’t take us beyond the next bus stop. Those who want to go far must stretch and reach for the stars, at the very least.
More waste, more jobs in Lagos
Did you know Lagos, this our Lagos, generates 10,000 metric tonnes of waste daily? We, the good people of Lagos are very productive like no other. Mega city mega waste. Well, someone’s got to take care of the waste because the fact that we churned out 10,000 tonnes on Monday doesn’t mean we’ll go on break on Tuesday. Not even on public holidays.
Of course, poor Governor Ambode was fazed by our output and he knew such hefty output will affect his own output. Sleeves rolled up, the governor went in search of professionals who will help him fix our waste. He also put a law in place to keep everybody on the straight and the narrow and to ensure we do not choke on our own rubbish.
Enters the consortium of mega city cleaners led by Visionscape, the principal waste collection company contacted to tackle the problems of waste management in Lagos . Other companies in the group are Wastecare Solutions and Resources Management Limited, VS Industries –Coseco/Ships, ABC Sanitation Taylor Bins and Bespoke Management and Maintenance Services –Interwaste.
The good thing about the choice of Visionscape and the others, of course, is that it has a proven track record. What it is being called to do in Lagos it has done in other mega cities around the world, namely in countries like United Kingdom, United
Arab Emirates, India, Nigeria, South Africa, Malawi, Romania, Pakistan,
Phillipines, Mali, Dominican Republic, and Morocco. It is expected to use a fully
integrated waste management and recycling solutions targeted at achieving
Zero Waste through reduction, recycling and reuse of wastes.
And while Visionscape and co are cleaning after us, Ambode will create 27,500 new jobs. Things are definitely looking up. Methinks we should generate more waste so Ambode can create more jobs. Let’s get cracking guys.