Lagos Campaign Grounds: A Case Of One State Two Cities
NIGERIANS, especially Lagosians, are witnessing a new phase of political campaign in the country. In a bid to outdo each other, the two major political parties — the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), are introducing innovative ideas and strategies to convince the electorates to vote for them.
Aside from their flamboyant speeches, the high sounding words that used to spice past politicians’ speeches, as well as their colourful attires that added thrill to the event in the 90s, the present time is witnessing a shift, as party faithful now delight in wearing uniform attires, tee-shirts or Ankara in their favoured party colours and emblems to campaign grounds.
But this is not all. The new package also features famous entertainers of different genres, who usually hold the crowd spellbound with their performances, thereby showing that the nation has them in abundance and that campaign grounds are not only about politics; there must also be comedy, music and dance.
But aside all these theatrics, which are targeted at capturing the electorate’s fancy and swaying their decision, one noticeable fallout of all these activities at any campaign ground is the filth that is generated while the events last.
After the departure of the campaigners and their audience, the grounds are usually littered with bits and pieces of papers, torn posters, especially that of the opponent parties, empty water sachets, crumbs of snacks, damaged party’s insignia and such other items that should have been disposed of to make the spots clean.
Although it is a known fact that the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) is responsible for the regulations of pasting of posters, billboards and any form of advertisement in the state, the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) has tried to live up to its billings to a large extent by clearing campaign grounds, especially those in many places in the metropolis.
The agency rapid response in cleaning up these venues is admirable although its activity is more pronounced in highbrow areas of the state than the suburbs. Here, filthy campaign grounds are left for days without any attempt at cleaning. And when eventually cleared, the packed heaps are deposited at the roadsides sometimes for weeks, with some of it pushed into the drains, thereby constituting another form of nuisance to the environment.
And now that the rains are around the corner, the authorities or agencies responsible for cleaning the city would need to sit up and carry out their duties to avoid flooding in some areas.
Reacting to this development, Babatunde Aremu, a resident said it appears the state government is selective in its approach to keeping the state clean.
“Or how else would you explain the case where more attention is given to the highbrow areas than the suburbs such as Ejigbo, Ijanikin and Bariga among others. You should have seen the speed with which LAWMA tidied up the roads leading to Ejigbo playground because they wanted to use it for campaign. After the programme, we had expected that such speed would be equally applied to cleaning up the place. But this was not the case, as the filth was left to fly around for days.
“If this had taken place in the main part of Lagos such as Ikoyi, would it have taken them this long to clear the rubbish? I think it is because they feel we are not to be reckoned with and that we have no power to influence government that they treat us this way,” he said.
According to Shamshideen Aderanti, the responsibility of tidying up campaign grounds in the state must have been given to certain PSP contractors to handle. So, the inability of the relevant private companies to discharge their duties properly should be blamed on the agency monitoring the various contractors that are supposed to handle it.
“Government’s decision to pay little or no attention to the people of a particular area or location is not desirable. Government is supposed to be for all people, whether in the rural or urban areas. Everyone, no matter where they live pays tax; so, all that is necessary is for the people to identify the PSP operator in their area and report to the relevant monitoring authority,” he said.
A gatekeeper, who was at Teslim Balogun Stadium, venue of Lagos State primaries said the place was quickly cleaned up after the event to allow for other activities to hold.
According to Funke, who was among the LAWMA officers assigned to tidy up the Ejigbo pitch for campaign, the blamed shouldn’t be heaped at their doorstep, as the authority provided waste bins and also stationed officials to see to the cleanliness of the venue, but that the crowd had messed up the ground.
“We became helpless, as we could not actually handled them. Not even the threat of arrest could make them do the right thing, and as you know, it was a political ground and any punitive measure could ignite crisis,” she said.
Other cleaners in different parts of the city echoed Funke’s reaction.
Ejiro Adamu, an environmentalist, told The Guardian that the issue of cleaning of campaign grounds before and after use has to do with a state policy and should never be undermined because of its adverse effects, especially with the rains around the corner.
“The drains should always be cleared to allow for easy flow of water. The filth from the various campaign grounds should be dumped at designated sites, but not on the street corners or roads,” she said.
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