Roles of Citizens and Civil Societies in Waste Management

by Bamise Ojo

Most times when we are looking for who to blame for the woes of our country, Nigeria, we are always too quick to hang it on the government; but few people pay attention to the role or civic duties of citizens of our dear Nation. I wrote about the “Efforts of Government in Tackling Waste” in our society in my previous post, but today let’s take a technical break away from government upbraiding and focus on the actions and responsibilities of the citizens as regards waste management.

Permit me to start with a wise saying: “you want a good government as a citizen but are you even close to being a good citizen? I think until we meet the requirement of our requirement, things will start working out fine” (confused? Let me break it down.) – you as a citizen want a good leader with people interest at heart (your requirement); on the other hand, the government wants a law-abiding citizen (your requirement’s requirement).

Nigerians have been in the business of dumping waste illegally for like forever, and the few that frowns at it are the abnormal one. Despite government provision for waste disposal and lots of campaign that enlighten the people about the danger of disposing waste on waterways, you will still see people dumping their waste in waterways and these same set of people want a cleaner environment. When the flood comes knocking they blame the government.

Nigerians (except for a few) have a bad attitude towards waste disposal. One of the reasons attributable to this is that they do not want to pay for it. We need to repent from this habit if we want a working society.

Some reasons for the recalcitrant nature of Nigerians towards waste are but not limited to:

  • Unwillingness to pay: In some Nigerian states like 25% – 30% pay for waste management.
  • Immodesty/Bigheadedness: This is the way we have been doing before you were born attitude.
  • Selfishness: Not considering how their actions will affect other citizens e.g. blockage of drainage or flood.
  • Looking for a shortcut, that is, looking for a faster means of disposing waste.

I personally think we cannot classify illiteracy as one of the reasons for this behaviour because people have been edified about waste management over the years and you would still see some so-called educated fellows throwing packaged waste out of their car on the expressway. Some or combination of the aforementioned reasons has led to many illegal dumping site surfacing.

There have been some great social media campaigns by organizations and civic society against illegal waste disposal like; #PickThatTrash, #CleanNigeria, #CleanandGreenNigeria. However, we need more of this kind of initiatives.

Taking an excerpt from Tuface (a popular singer in Nigeria) song titled “Spiritual Healing”:

“I keep saying these things ‘cos I know  

I keep on saying these things until I go”.

Talking is not enough, we should start acting now and walk the talk also. I beacon on us all to start letting out our voice and/or action against indiscriminate waste disposal and other environmental menaces.

We can get involved by engaging in the following:

  • Do not dump waste on the road, no matter how small it is (like a wrap of biscuit or used recharged card). I attended a seminar organized by my fellowship back then in the university where one of the speakers talked about how he does not drop any waste on the road, not even an empty sachet of water. He said he would rather put it in his bag or pocket and empty it when he got home or when he sees an available bin. I have been practicing the same thing now for the past 8years. Try to practice this and make it a habit as well.

 

  • Start or join any available volunteer group campaigning against indiscriminate waste disposal. Nigerian youths need to channel some of the energy they invest in football, politics, social media debates into this.

 

  • If you are responsible for a group of people, you can motivate them to clean up a dirty area. I was impressed when I saw men of the Nigerian Army cleaning up drainage and road blocked by waste while plying Mushin – Yaba road sometimes last year.

 

  • Next time you see someone illegally dumping waste speak up against it if you can or give them – you are a bad citizen look.

No government can perform excellently without law abiding citizens. As a citizen, we have our role to play in waste management; ignoring those responsibilities will make all the effort of government futile.

Author: Suhaib Arogundade

Suhaib Arogundade is an enthusiastic young professional who has interest in commodity trading, mindset redesigning, and waste management research.

Suhaib is the Chief Waste Eliminator at WasteWatch Africa.

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