The governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, does not conceal the weightiness in steering the affairs of his state; he is not a shirker from his sworn responsibility to lift the state to an enviable status either. The Governor’s multifaceted interests in advancing the state, in addition to the unique promptness of his actions, present a man who rests less to nurture his vision for Anambra to tangible terms. Though Chief Obiano has, from the day of his inauguration, maintained heightened commitment to the ‘four pillar’ thrust of his administration itemized as: ‘aggressive mechanized agriculture, oil and gas, trade and commerce, and industrialization,’ he has personally led crusades to inculcate environment friendliness in Ndi-Anambra; just as he has equally demonstrated absolute commitment to the security of lives and property in the state. The effects of these efforts are recognizable in the reinvigorated life among Ndi-Anambra who, apart from celebrating the minimal crime record in the state, have bought into the Governor’s ‘free the environment of filth’ campaign.
Environment, in its sheer immensity and bountiful accommodation of life, could passably go for the most expansive as well as the most charitable habitation for life on planet earth. Indeed, life cannot be outside the context of an environment, for even a vacuum depicts an environment of emptiness, absence or nothingness. Vast and vague, environment has been in the front burner of issues of grievous concern to organisations and governments across the globe in their advocacy for wholesome life. The challenges of making environment pliable to the demands of humans are as diverse as the particularities of distinctive human habitations and the consciousness of people to the environmental peculiarities they put up with. The economy of the environment in human life is therefore as immense, convoluted and probably as relevant as life itself suggests. And mindful of the interface (more of fluidity) between its socio-geographical pedestals, our target here is the implication of human actions or inactions on the environment in Anambra State.
A few days into the life of his administration, Chief Willie Obiano defied turbulent rainfall to embark on ‘Keep Awka Clean’ exercise. He replicated the environmental discipline campaign shortly after in the metropolitan cities of Onitsha, Nnewi and Ekwulobia where he enjoined residents of the state to wake up to the challenges of reviving an environment that has experienced continual depreciation. His persuasion on the subject is apt: ‘Hygienic environment is a sine qua non for pleasant neighbourhoods and good health.’ Governor Obiano’s passion for a wholesome environment, physical and social, conduced to his choice of ‘Kpochapu’ (evacuate, remove completely) as a codename for a joint security group comprising the Police, other arms of Nigeria’s Armed Forces, Civil Defence and other relevant groups. This octopus subset of the State security apparatus enforces the maintenance of a safe, decent and civilized polity. While ‘Operation Kpochapu’ might fundamentally be referencing containment of criminality in the State, the nomenclature which explicitly points at the maintenance of decent neighbourhoods underpins the Governor’s consummate passion to turnaround the environment and the people to a blend of civilised entity.
Anambra State of Nigeria is unfairly burdened with multiple natural ecological constraints. The State has over one thousand active erosion sites whose persistent escalation, particularly during the rains, continues to threaten lives and property of Ndi-Anambra. Conscious of the non-cohesive texture of the soil in many parts of the State which exposes it to malignant erosion, Governor Obiano, in his ‘Save the Environment Campaign,’ stresses the imminent danger a harassed environment poses to its abusers. He encourages individuals and groups to duly dispose refuse at designated points to avoid blockage of the water channels and the consequent erosion. In response to the Governor’s message, it is now common to see people de-silting the drains that run through their neighbourhoods, and properly disposing refuse at designated spots from where the appropriate Government Agency promptly evacuates same.
Anambra State leaves nobody in doubt about the difficulties its governance poses; the enviable constellation of stellar intelligentsia it boasts of regardless. This privilege, in addition to the significant value of the wealthy and ‘know-some’ people (who, indeed, might know very little) has ensured a clog in administering the state. It is therefore not strange to see people, particularly the rich, encroach on public land in erecting private structures, with the haughty mindset that ‘nothing will happen’. At times these structures are placed on water or other service lines, or even on deliberate green parks reserved for public use. As Governor Obiano superintended the demolition of such illegal structures at Onitsha and its environs, he admonished perpetrators of such illegality, and sternly warned that his administration ‘will not tolerate flagrant violation of the law and encroachment on government property by anybody, irrespective of social status.’
Again, in furtherance of Chief Obiano’s passion for safe and decent environment, the Anambra State Government has ordered an immediate removal of immobile vehicles along major roads in the state; it has also ordered the removal of random posters and billboards which deplete the aesthetic dispositions of the cities. Given Governor Obiano’s compulsive persuasion on the primacy of well groomed, decent and safe environment in the attainment of great health and pleasant life, and upon Ndi-Anambra’s warm reception of the noble counsel encapsulated in ‘Operation Kpochapu’, Anambra State is surely on course to the haulage of laurels in environmental friendliness.
Okechukwu Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu.