It is a glaring fact that Lagos State has taken a leap forward since Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu initiated the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model for waste collection and management in Lagos State.
Indeed, this process has undergone several changes over the years, in the face of challenges such as mass ignorance and apathy, huge population of about 21 million people, gross disrespect for the Lagos masterplan and the ecological issue of it being a coastal State. And more significantly, the cleaning exercise was concentrated on the city while the fringe communities such as Epe, Badagry, Ayobo, Ijegun, and Ikotun Egbe were not being touched.
However, with the emergence of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, with his eyes fixed on turning Lagos metropolis into a smart city, to rank amongst the cleanest in the world, he felt the crying need for a holistic waste management system. It is against this backdrop that he approached the Lagos State House of Assembly with an all-embracing, consolidated environmental law in the State. Good enough, the House, in its wisdom, graciously approved the take-off of the Cleaner Lagos Initiative, CLT.
This laudable and ground-breaking initiative periscopes an expansive mechanism for a cleaner, more environment friendly smart city. Indeed, Ambode had confessed that Lagos as it is presently, “is not the city of my own dream”. Besides, he also stated that Lagos cannot do it alone. This has informed his decision to go into PPP. But there is a gap, especially from those who have been profiteering from this long-held initiative that has not assisted in the clean-up of the city.
In fact, they have fought tooth-and-nail to derail this initiative. They have gone to court and lost. They have embarked on blackmail and mudslinging to no avail, because Lagosians believe in Ambode, who walks the talk. For instance, he successfully reformed LASTMA from being an aggressive, agency to a more humane and efficient agency, in spite of initial hiccups. Ditto the gradual de-congestion of traffic snare and gridlock in Lagos by the construction of Laybyes.
The same forces that erroneously believed that he does not have the capacity, the experience and the political dexterity to run Lagos, by now shell-shocked by the phenomenal achievements over the past two years, are now back on the prowl. That is, against this Cleaner Lagos Initiative which is expected to generate 27,500 jobs, at 10 cleaners in 3,950 wards in Lagos.
With the same uniform and other modern kits, against the outmoded system that had each cleaner being paid a meager N12,000 salary, instead of the new salary of N27,000 each that they will be collecting.
This current model would ensure waste management touches every nook and cranny of Lagos, whether they are in Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Epe, Ikorodu or Badagry.
Sadly, the unrepentant saboteurs who are also in the system capitalized on the period that spans the planning, bringing in the equipment and execution to indiscriminately dump waste all over Lagos. Their unpatriotic aim is to embarrass the government into abandoning the people-friendly project.
Such saboteurs include a notorious politician who has been collecting humongous sum of One Billion Naira yearly to clean school wastes in Lagos. The question one should ask oneself is, how much waste is being generated in schools to warrant the payment of such colossal sum.
It is such slush fund they are now using to throw brick-bats at their political benefactors and claiming to be champions of internal party democracy. Others include those who are collecting N300 million on quarterly basis as kick-backs from the operators. This is because it is easier to cheat when you collect both industrial and domestic waste together. But the Cleaner Lagos Initiative has exposed them. So, they are crying wolf where there is none. Lagos will not move from celebrating 50 years to become a dirty State.
But the only constant thing in life is change. And Governor Ambode has indeed, proved beyond reasonable doubt to be an agent of true change, and Lagosians trust and have confidence in him.
Those who do not want Lagos to move forward can go and jump into the lagoon, apology to Oba Akiolu of Lagos.