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The Mega City / Life

Barracks of despair, disrepair

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For occupants of police barracks in a Third World country like Nigeria, living is not such a pleasant experience. OGUNBAMOWO ELIZABETH writes on the deplorable condition of police barracks, coupled with moral decadence that is highly characteristic of such quarters

 

State of the facilities

A visit to different Police barracks across Lagos reveals an appalling and repulsive state of living for residents. Typically and by observation, the building of barracks are uniformly miserable, just like the case of the Idimu police barracks on Egbeda road, area of Lagos. While some of the paths in the barracks are tarred, others are untarred and tattered.

The houses are built homogeneously with each block having up to eight apartments in them.

The buildings are of varying colours: while some are ash-coloured, others have cream colours on them but all the buildings have one thing in common which is the high-quality red aluminum roofing sheet. Each flat has a moderately spacious balcony which sometimes serves as a place for entertaining visitors; leading to a mini-kitchen which adjoins the sitting room to the balcony.

The sitting room is built in a modest square-like manner with maximum capacity of a three-seater sofa, a love-seat and an armchair, a small space for the wallsocket where the TV would be plugged and an opening in the middle of the room where the kids gather for their meals. At a corner of the sitting room, is a door that leads to two bed rooms while the outer one for children and the innermost room serving as the master bedroom.

A door links the rooms to a passageway that is definitely a connection to the rest rooms provided for half of the block. Some of the flats have three-bedrooms. Unfortunately however, some of the buildings, New Telegraph observed, have cracks in them and seem to be on the verge of collapse.

Surprisingly  no one (visitors and residents of this barrack) seems to care about the state of facilities, but the effect is something they cannot do away with. Going by New Telegraph observation, most of the ceilings of the buildings have seen better days as they have now worn out, tattered and scattered by the wind or thunderstorm. Some of the blocks within the barrack have their septic tank opened with flies buzzing around them.

Considering the current condition of the barracks, residents speak with New Telegraph on their hopes, disappointments and expectations.

 

Residents Speak

 

Iya Aishat, as she preferred to be addressed, an officer’s wife, spoke on the state of the facilities. “In this country, things are always like this. The real people that are serving the nation are made to suffer while the people who enjoy most are those that corrupt the system. The state of the facility here is not so good.”

Her major complaint is lack of water supply in the barracks. According to her, occupants of the barracks buy water with their money when there is a lengthy period of power outage. The inadequate toilet facility is also a source of inconvenience to her family as her family share a bathroom and toilet with her neighbour, who does not care about sanitation of the rest room.

Iya Aishat added that though the roofing sheet is of high quality, the ceiling used with it is very poor such that when a strong wind blows, the ceiling scatters. In a similar vein, Mama Chigozie, also a police officer’s wife, said that the facilities in the barracks are poor and disheartening for her.

For her, it is as if the occupants are not human beings deserving of decent living. She still stays in the barracks because her retired husband has not been paid his pension. “Right now, we are supposed to be in our own house enjoying the fruit of years of toiling but what do we get in return? Endless wait!” She surmised. She declared that for many years, her family had migrated from one barrack to another with the hope that barrack life will end someday, but now, that hope seems so bleak.

For Miss Cynthia, her anger is not directed at the government that refused to reward police officers appropriately but at her father, a squanderer who had limited his family’s accommodation option to a barracks apartment. “With my father’s entire savings, we could have gotten a nice apartment or even our own house but my dad invested it in a ghost business because we never got to know the name or nature of the business and today, we have nothing left. See where we are staying now.

The other side of the barracks is even better than here. They did not even complete the renovation of this house,” she said. Cynthia however called on the government to look into the condition of the facilities and provide what is suitable for them. Another officer’s wife who is not comfortable with the condition of situations at the barracks, Iya Ayo, lamented the state of the facilities.

“We have a borehole in this barracks but it is not connected to the The ceiling used is very poor. When a strong wind blows, the ceiling scatters flats. Whenever we want water, we go outside to fetch for free but we pay for water only when there is no electricity supply and that is what we have been having for some time now.”

On the issue of electricity supply, she asserted that prior to this time, the barrack light was funded by the government which in turn, is deducted from the officers’ salaries but that recently, the power distribution company started bringing bills to the barracks which is a challenge the residents took up, by appointing a leader to handle the contributions.

The leaders however turned out to be a disappointment as they pay the bills anytime they wish. She said that the toilet is still manageable but when the soak-away gets filled, residents find it difficult to contribute money for the dung to be cleared.

It would be recalled that some years ago, the residents of police barracks welcomed the ex-president, Goodluck Jonathan with open arms and smiles on their faces only to have a portion of their estate taken from them with the promise of providing a modern estate at an affordable rate.

Construction work started fully in the Goodluck Jonathan Estate. After the construction, the estate became what an average police officer could not afford with a towering fence spelling the gap between the poor and the rich. Speaking with New Telegraph, an officer who pleaded anonymity, revealed that the land upon which the Goodluck Jonathan estate is built belongs to the barracks but before now, the land served as a farm land for the barracks.

And when the construction was about to start, the ex-president and the people involved in the construction promised to make housing units in the estate affordable for police officers from the rank of a constable. “But when they started the construction, they built a demarcation between us and those that can afford it. They even promised to build these ones we are living in like those ones but will they do it?” He asked with a forlorn look on his face.

He added that a renovation work started in the barracks during that period as a way of compensating the officers but the building materials used are substandard except the roofing sheet, which he believes is of high quality. According to him, the doors are not good and cannot be locked due to the fact that the door hinges, knobs and handles are bad and broken coupled with the rusted iron they are made of which gives an opportunity for thieves to collect things from people’s homes. “We told them that time that the materials were not of good quality and that they were not fixing it well but they refused to listen to us.

They said it is none of their business. We thought that the job would be supervised before they pay the contractor but it didn’t happen that way. They practically paid the contractor, even before he completed the job without supervision. We were lost and had to accept it that way.

There are some buildings that are not even completed in this barracks but people are living in them like that and that is not supposed to be so.” The officer added that the fence erected by the constructors of Goodluck Jonathan Estate has been a constant source of worry to residents of the barracks as it causes erosion anytime it rains.

This, made the occupants of the barracks employ the services of people who dug a gully to accomodate the erosion but when it rains, the gully overflows into people’s homes. “People find it difficult to come out of their houses during rainy season.” he said. Meanwhile, New Telegraph also observed that amidst the substandard facilities provided, the life on barracks is not so encouraging either. However, good still thrive.

 

Life on Barracks

It was 10am. Madam Kofo crawled out of bed in her taffeta wrapper, stretched and gave a long yawn to signify a deserved night rest. She lumbered to the mini- kitchen to boil water for corn meal. Then, there was a stop. Suddenly, a frantic search began. “Where is my match box?” she queried to no one in particular.

She started swearing and cursing at whoever took her matchbox, swearing to have left it under the kitchen table mat the previous night. In her thirst for the pap, she called to her neighbour, Mama Chinedu to lend her a match stick which Mama Chinedu declined to, claiming that her match box had been with Madam Kofo for over a week, adding that poverty has eaten deep into Madam Kofo’s life so that she could not afford a matchbox for preparing her meals. In fury, Madam Kofo dashed to Mama Chinedu’s standing point to land her a heavy slap on the latter’s left cheek. Pandemonium erupted with a resultant no-victor, no-vanquished battle.

Both women left with a curse on their lips with a threat to punish the other when the time comes. A walk past the rows of buildings through the barracks medical centre to the adjoining street reveals some young men with rolls of cigarette and wrappers of marijuana alongside some bottles of alcoholic beverages like dry gin, beer, Alomo, Codeine and other unnamed drinks. At exactly 2pm, the much younger ones troop in from their various schools with the little ones on multi-coloured uniform of check yellow shirt and blue shorts with a green band around the elbow.

These are children from the nearby police children school in the area. The teens are clothed in clothes of various colours, a symbol of their different secondary schools. As the caravan move in designed clusters, curse and swear words were exchanged between individuals and groups. Suddenly, laughter would erupt from a group over the folly of members of the opposing party.

Speaking with some of the children, New Telegraph gathered that swear words for the children are like candies they chew gleefully.

Miracle, an 11-year-old boy that stays in the barracks with his parents said, “I was born and brought up here. All these might sound as insult to your ears but for us, it is fun and nothing more. I love this people because we live like family. We already understand each other. So, I know that it is no offence. ”

He however said that some of the insults might lead to a fight between two persons if the word is too extreme for the other person to accommodate but he asserted that the children have the spirit of sharing.

“Auntie, all these people that have just insulted each other now, will come to the field to share biscuits and other goodies and even play in the same team. We have good hearts.” Joshua, an undergraduate within the barracks, said that truly, life in barracks is not morally sound for a child’s upbringing but he believes that a child is the replica of his parents.

“If a child’s parents are morally sound and they bring him up like that, there is a 90 per cent possibility of following their ways but if they are not moral sound enough and they want to force morality down his throat, he would not hesitate to throw it up in their faces.”

He believes that children of police officers ought to be disciplined and watch out for the law but since some of the law enforcement agents are the ones who violate the law, it is left in the hands of individual officers to train their children to become what they want them to be. For Joshua, it does not matter where a child stays, parental influence is key.

A police officer, who spoke on an anonymous basis, said that the life on barracks is decayed considering all that he had seen over the years. “Police children are corrupt but their parents made them so. Some of the boys on this barracks take hard drugs like food and their parents know about it.

They do nothing. Some of the children even do betting right under their parents’ nose, yet the parents say nothing to it. We organized a barrack meeting where we discussed all these things but those people rise up against us to protect their children.” He revealed that some police officers even bring in hard drugs into the barracks for their children claiming to be above the law and that nothing can happen to them.

“Some of them have their reasons; they say that because they are retired and their children are their bread winners, anything the child can do to bring in money, legal or illegal is permitted. But I know that there would soon be an end to this.” He however stated that there are still good and morally sound children in the barracks but bad influencers are everywhere to dissuade them from the right track.

 

Some Police Officers Don’t Stay in Barracks

However, New Telegraph gathered that some police officers do not stay in the barracks because of the barrack lifestyle among other things.

Mrs. Patricia, an officer’s wife, said that her children can never live in the barracks based on many reasons. First of which is her husband’s strong objection to barracks facilities and lifestyle. She also averred that children who stay in the barracks are usually subjected to degrading treatments by people around them. She said that when she was still single and working in a restaurant, she discovered that some of the children who stay in the barracks submit application letters with different address because of fear of being rejected.

This, according to her is the way of selection by employers to avoid employing the wrong set of people. “I would not want my children to be in such situations. The truth is that even when a child is qualified for a post, they might reject him because he stays on barracks. People even use the lifestyle of barracks adult to show how vicious they are. They try to paint themselves as people that were brought up in police barracks who would not hesitate to deal with you if you don’t heed to them.”

Mama Esther, a female police officer, whose husband is also a police officer, said that the life in barracks is not what she desires for her children. According to her, “living in a police barracks might make a child irresponsible, careless, non-ambitious and have a lack of motivation because of what happens around them.

Though, the way a child is brought up goes a long way in determining the type of adult he would grow into, but, environment matters too.” She said that there are many cases of having police children turning into professional criminals who know how to get away with a crime without being punished for it.

She added that, the police ought to rid the country of crime and not to add to it and she would leave no stone unturned in making her children disciplined, responsible and worthy of all her efforts on them. Mama Esther added that the lifestyle in the barracks is highly characteristic of spiritual attacks against one another because of the high level of competition in the barracks. “Nobody wants another person to be better than them or their children.” However, there are some parents who stay in the barracks but who do not train their children there, one of which is Mrs. Patricia.

Mrs. Patricia, mother of four, stays in barracks with her family but without her grown children around her. She revealed that her family stays in the barracks because of the poor financial status of the family but based on the lifestyle of the children in the barracks, she doesn’t allow her kids stay with her by sending them to boarding school once they are through with their primary education.

“I don’t want them to influence my children negatively” “The way the youth in the barrack live their lives is not encouraging at all. It is not easy to train a child in the barracks at all. Most of the children you see here, when they finish secondary school, join cult. They start smoking cigarette and taking alcohol and misbehave a lot.” For Mrs. Patricia, some parents only know how to birth a child; they do not know how to train them. Some parents on the barracks leave their children untrained.

This, she believes, is responsible for the waywardness of police children.

 

Solution

The police officer, who spoke on an anonymous basis, said that parents should train their children in the way they want them to grow. But he also believes that everyone is his neighbour’s keeper. Thus, he implored every police officer to keep a watchful eye on the activities of children in the barracks.

Iya Ayo believes that the waywardness of barracks youth would be minimized if the government could make certain provisions such as scholarship schemes, free entrepreneurial lectures, vocational training, and capital to start business for youths. She also suggested that there should be a monitoring squad like the Vigilante to watch out for the activities of hoodlums inside the barracks and arrest them if necessary.

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The Mega City / Life

Collaborating for cleaner Lagos

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As part of measures towards ensuring safety of the citizens in a mega city, the Lagos State government has left no stone unturned in providing for a healthy environment by adopting appropriate waste management techniques with the recent one being Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) managed by Visionscape resources.

 

 

However, there seems to be a recent upsurge of filthiness in the state as Lagos streets and medians have become mini depot of dirt.

 

 

The streets of Lagos seem to be in aggressive competition for highest prize of the dirtiest street. Dirt litters everywhere with wraps and leftover bursting out of bins and sacks accommodating such. Day after day, the filth goes beyond the streets to road medians, bus stops and market areas.

 

 

Concerned Lagosians spoke with New Telegraph on this new development. Mr. Stanley Okoro, a resident of Arobaba in Idimu said that the manner in which people dispose of their wastes after several attempts by the government to keep Lagos clean was not encouraging.

 

 

He believed that the mentality of most Nigerians, which is that of individualism, was responsible for the activities of some, who drop their waste by the roadside.

 

 

All they do is just to get rid of the wastes from their houses. “This is not fair at all. It is good to want to keep our houses clean but doing that at the expense of others’ health is not fair. How can a human being in his right senses drop dirt at the bus stop and still live with a clean conscience. That is a strategic place to spread diseases because a lot of people alight from buses at that same spot.”

 

 

He stated that when people start thinking beyond themselves to include other people’s feelings, such things would be reduced. He also called on the government and the managers of CLI to ensure the efficiency of the CLI in Lagos State. Mr. Ayobami Franklin, a barber, confirms that Lagos is truly dirty. “It is only the blind that would say that they don’t know that Lagos is dirty. It is obvious; it is there for all to see.

 

The streets are dirty but the markets are worse and now, waiting at the bus stops has become a problem, flies would just be perching on someone anyhow because of the refuse dumped there,” he said.

 

 

He asserted that Lagos residents are not to be blamed but government who is not stable in waste management policies. He noted that the government does not know the policy to adopt to make Lagos a cleaner place. “Even the new policy, CLI, has already started failing”.

 

 

He, however, believed that the people needed re-orientation first before anything because every policy would fail without people’s cooperation.

 

 

In a similar vein, Mrs Olabimpe Tijani believes that the people’s cooperation is key because “the waste we are talking about here is not coming from Ambode’s office, neither is it coming from the house of whoever is in charge of the CLI and this is not affecting them.

 

 

We are the ones that should be responsible for our actions. Government cannot do everything for us. After all, there was a primitive way of dealing with dirt which was burning.

 

 

Now, they told us not to burn again because there is something called Global Warming and decided to give us bin bags.

 

 

How many people would say they use the bin bags? Rather, people prefer to turn their wastes into the drainage when it starts raining, which is not proper. Let’s all support the government and everyone would be in a better position.” Mr. Rasheed Olowolayemo noted that the CLI is already toeing the path of the PSP and this, he believes, is a cause for alarm.

 

According to him, the PSP’s visitation interval to streets takes too much for the wastes produced on streets of a mega city like Lagos. The Visionscape’s waste trucks are also taking too long before picking waste from each bus stops “and what I have noticed is that the Visionscape trucks do not go into the streets. They pick refuse by the roadside and just move on.

 

 

Are they not communicating something to the people?” he quipped. In a reaction to the presumed inefficiencies of the CLI, the operations manager of the CLI, Mr. Aravind.V, spoke at great length in an interview with New Telegraph.

 

He said:”The government is focusing on waste management because the scheme has so many facets: health related issues, hazards and hygiene conditions. Moreover, cleanliness is godliness. Whatever waste generated has to be handled scientifically. So, we have been given the opportunity to bring better waste management system to Lagos.

 

The waste management companies of the past was working but the collection mechanism was a little bit poor. According to the information we gathered, in some areas, they were not constant in their visits to those areas and the truth is that once trash is generated, it should not be kept for a longer time.

 

 

It should be taken to the appropriate place. I am from India and I have been to some places in Lagos. I have not seen much difference between the Indian metropolis and Lagos city.

 

 

The people’s habits are almost the same. The government has been focusing on cleaner environment and all the officials over there are working hard to bring better waste management practices. So, for the last 20 years I have been working in this field”.

 

 

He maintained that the goal of a cleaner Lagos could only be achieved through a continuous and collaborative effort that needs some dedication, honesty and sincerity.

 

 

Citing Singapore as an example, he averred that 30 years ago, Singapore was very dirty but had the goal of making their city a better place and this involved a lot of sacrifices on the part of the government and the governed. He believes that if Lagos residents see this as a collective responsibility, the goal of a cleaner Lagos would be achieved in no time at all.

 

Aravind said that the state is in a transformation stage and that the CLI would take some time before its impact would be felt in the state but solicited for people’s cooperation and optimum support.

 

Also, he revealed that the company has plans of bringing in compactors and various equipment with which the waste can be managed properly, stating that the people need to be patient with the company.

 

He further stated: “We cannot expect 100 per cent perfection in the first place. So, basically, what we are doing now is to sensitize the people.

 

 

The people’s mindset has to change. They have to see it as their own house, their streets, their wastes. They have to take care of their trash. People should be responsible and not wait to be held accountable to how they dispose their trash before they get it right. Everybody really and strongly desires for a change but change does not happen in a day. So, it takes time.

 

This is a large project and you would see the results. It may take one year and a half but the result would be visible, so that ultimately, a day would come that there would be no waste on Lagos roads and we can say that Lagos is clean,” he said.

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The Mega City / Life

A different way of budgeting at Alimosho

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The current administration of the Alimosho Local Government under the leadership of Hon. Jelili Sulaimon, has really proven its worth. Barely three months in office, the administration has organised a stakeholders meeting where the people’s representatives from each ward and district were given the opportunity to present the needs of their people to the government.

 

 

 

This was done with a view to incorporating the requests into the 2018 budget. Some days ago, the administration organized another stakeholders meeting which involved the presentation of the 2018 budget to the stakeholders for executive endorsement.

 

The budget christened, “Budget of Human and Infrastructural Development” focused essentially on construction, education, health, capacity building, social engineering and poverty alleviation. Chairman of the occasion during his speech had claimed that the budget was not yet approved because of the acknowledgement of the fact that people are the ones to award the budget executive endorsement.

 

 

The 2018 budget for the local government which stands at the sum of N1, 445,257,332.74 (One billion, four hundred and forty five million, two hundred and fifty seven thousand, three hundred and thirty two naira, seventy four kobo is 24.9 per cent higher than the LG’s budget for the year 2017. It is made up of N370,930,443.83 (25.66%) capital expenditure and N1,074,326,888.91 (74.34%) recurrent expenditure.

 

 

Based on the breakdown, the recurrent expenditure includes human development and overhead while the capital expenditure includes the construction of a good number of roads as presented during the November meeting, construction of the Akowonjo Primary healthcare centre, provision of streetlights, and rehabilitation of markets, among others.

 

Hon. Jelili specifically stated that the budget also included the procurement of skill acquisition machines for all the governmentowned primary schools in the area. He stated that the machines would be used to train children in the senior classes in any trade of choice.

 

This, he believed, would not only be to equip the children for the future but also to provide them complete education.

 

Speaking on processes of arriving at the budget, Superintendent Councillor for Budget, Hon Yakub Raji, said that the 2018 Budget is a unique one as the legislators had to pass through rigorous processes in arriving at the total estimate.

 

According to him: “The chairman did not allow us to rest. We worked tirelessly on arriving at the final budget of the LG. He ensured that we covered the whole departments in the budget.” Speaking on what made the budget a unique one, the Chairman, Hon. Jelili said that the budget is the first of its kind in the whole of Lagos State.

 

 

“In 2017, we called for stakeholders meeting to hear from you. We gathered all the information given. We went for budget retreat and used the accumulated information to plan this budget. Normally, what happens is that when the legislators approve a budget, the executive continues to work with it but we decided to call you and present this to you.

 

 

We want you to give the budget executive endorsement because we believe that the people we are serving are the government. We are only representatives”. Stakeholders present at the occasion, spoke with New Telegraph on essence of the gathering.

 

The Oba of Shasha Kingdom, Oba Nasiru Lawal Ogunronbi, believed that the Chairman should be commended for the contents of the budget and the stakeholders meeting he organizes at intervals. He said: “The chairman has really done well.

 

If you go through the budget, you will see that the contents of the budget is different from what his predecessors include in their budget especially the idea of empowering primary school pupils. If that idea is executed successfully, it is going to go a long way in empowering the children”.

 

 

The Oba therefore called on the people of Alimosho Local Government to grant their full support to the LG chairman by paying their taxes because without revenue, there would be a limit to the execution of the plans included in the budget. Chief Edward Aderemi Obisesan, Alimosho LG APC chairman, stated that the Local Government chairman has done well and that he has been doing well since the beginning of his administration.

 

“All that he has been doing are things to improve the image of the local government. This year’s budget approval is the first of its kind in the whole of Lagos State. Never has this happened anywhere in this state.”

 

The chief thereafter urged the people to be patient with the chairman as a way of supporting him while bearing in mind that the programmes and policies of the Local Government means well for all the communities in the local government.

 

 

Also speaking, Chief Sola Ogunyombo, the CDC chairman of Alimosho LG said that the budget is a laudable budget because it focuses on infrastructure and human development. He averred that before the appraisal of the budget, the local government leaders called the CDA, CDC, artisans and all concerned to make their contributions which was incorporated into the budget.

 

 

 

Yet, the LG still called stakeholders together to assent the budget, which has never been done before. He maintained that it is a very commendable move which they all appreciate. He added that the next move by community leaders is to tell their people to contribute meaningfully towards the successful execution of the plans in the budget by encouraging the people to pay their taxes and all necessary levies, “Because if there is no income, it would be difficult to execute the budget”, he said.

 

 

“When they brought the budget to the house and we went through it, we discovered that it focuses on key areas, which is human and infrastructural development and since that is what we also wanted, we had to approve it but we want to beg the people to believe in our chairman and be patient.

 

 

He is a man that promises and fulfils”, the leader of the house, Hon. Ahmed Obadina said. Speaking on behalf of the entire youths of Alimosho Local Government on the level of their optimism concerning the budget, the President of the Youth council, Mr. Kolade Abdulrasheed, said: “Without any sentiments, the budget is indeed a unique one. It is the first of its kind.

 

This is the first time I would be seeing a program like this-the budget innovation, the budget process; it passed through the legislators, to the executive and now it is going to the populace before the final approval.

 

The normal thing that is usually done is for the budget to go to the legislature, it comes back to the executive for the final assent and implementation starts immediately, but this is a different thing and for me, it is the best”. He stated that the youths of Alimosho LG were highly optimistic of the success of the budget, considering the political will of the chairman.

 

 

“The chairman has the strength and the zeal to do it. Looking at the past budget, even though they started very late, they were able to achieve some things that we can see to show that this year’s budget would be a huge success”.

 

 

He said. Thereafter the group proceeded to the Akowonjo primary health centre already under construction and the Rauf Aregbesola Primary School, where the construction of a modern building is ongoing. Both are to be completed within six months.

 

 

 

Speaking on the new projects, Mrs. Lateefat Adebimpe, the head teacher of Rauf Aregbesola school expressed her gratitude to the chairman and strongly believed that the pupils would benefit a lot from the modern building the chairman has decided to construct for the school. Hon. Jelili emphasized the uniqueness of the budget, stating that as the name implies, the budget is direct and specific and that the budget answers both human and infrastructural challenges.

 

He however implored the people to pay their levies to the appropriate channels and ensure that they remain law abiding citizens.

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The Mega City / Life

Lagos reads riot act to butchers

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As part of measures towards the actualization of the mega city status of Lagos state, the state government, its various agencies and parastatals have adopted the people oriented governance as priority thus endless stakeholders meetings and workshops are held at regular intervals.

 

This is done to sensitize the people on how collaborative efforts help to move the state forward. Few days ago, the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture organized a one-day workshop for Oko-Oba Agege butchers stakeholders on the theme, ‘Lagos state abattoir and lirage complex, Oko Oba: Current status and way forward’.

 

Speaking on the essence of the workshop, the Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Oluwatoyin Suarau stated that it became necessary to call all the stakeholders together following a report released in a national daily which revealed the filthiness and other unaccepted practices of the abattoir. He averred that the management of the abattoir is not encouraging and that a stop must come to it.

 

“We are here to brainstorm not witch hunt; to point out things we ought to do that we have not done and to imbibe what is right. In other countries, they bathe their animals before slaughtering but we do not do that here. We are ready to hear from everyone here.”

 

Highlighting the objectives of the gathering, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Olayiwole Onasanya asserted that the workshop is aimed at ensuring that the Oko Oba Abattoir as the biggest abattoir in Nigeria is upgraded to a level that is of International Standards; to professionalize the abattoir by making sure that the professionals and the concessionaires that are supposed to be in the abattoir are the ones there and to ensure that the standard operative procedures for an abattoir is followed.

 

 

The stakeholders present spoke with New Telegraph on their cooperation with the government concerning the ongoing unacceptable practices in the abattoir.

 

 

Mr. Abdulganiyu Abdulmojeed, financial secretary of Eko refrigerated meat van said that the association is ready to cooperate with the government on the cleanup of the abattoir.

 

 

He said that the government has been assisting the union in ensuring that people make use of the refrigerated meat van but urged the government to do more by reading the riot acts to the people.

 

 

This, he believes would ensure the cooperation of the people with the Eko meat van association.

 

 

He said, “The essence of our own operation is that when they slaughter, we would take them to the market, but there are some hiccups here.

 

They’ve read the riot acts in the past and I know that’s what they’ll do today again and we are cooperating with the government on this one”. The chairman of Lagos state Butchers association, Alhaji Malomo Bakisu, stated that in the past, the state government had done a lot already.

 

According to him, the government set up a committee, the butchers travelled to Botswana and other countries to observe how meat processing was done there and that the stakeholders’ workshop is just a plus. He added that the union would agree with the government on this one.

 

He said, “What we would do now is to call all the butchers and let them know that what the government is doing is to add value to their business and ensure that meat processing is done in a hygienic way.” Alhaji Malomo stated that the association would discipline that any of the butchers who refuse to obey directives of the government.

 

He revealed that prior to this time, meat transportation was done with rickety vehicles and motorcycles but with the help of the Lagos state government, it was stopped “whatever policy government brings must be obeyed.

 

 

Now we are benefitting from our exports to Turkey, before now, they do not come to Nigeria for exportation because they say the way we process our meat is not hygienic but today it is. It is not government that is benefitting; it is we butchers that are benefitting”. Dr. Igbokwe, the Secretary General of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association, Lagos chapter believes that the work- shop is quintessential considering the ties of Animal health and human health.

 

 

He said, “there is so much connection between animal health and human health. Over 60 per cent of the diseases that affect human beings actually come from animals. We are insisting that the way our meat is being handled is not up to the standard of a mega city status that Lagos is pursuing and the little that needs to be done must be done now.”

 

 

On the part of veterinarians, he added that the butchers are being monitored but that, that is not enough because there are issues of human resources, budgetary limitations on the part of government but he believes that such issues are not to be treated as secondary or even tertiary.

 

“There is an issue of compensation where the butchers shy away from condemning animals that have tuberculosis. Nigeria today has the highest number of tuberculosis cases in the world. So, if you tell them to condemn such animals, you have to compensate them by law.

 

 

In some cases, the butchers become violet and butcher the veterinarian.” He appealed to media practitioners to help shine more light on medical issues because there are lots to be done In an interview with journalists, the Commissioner for Agriculture said that the ministry has been on the issue of the abattoir for a while.

 

He revealed that before he became the commissioner for the ministry the abattoir was not fenced and the governor who found it difficult to operate in such manner approved the fencing of abattoir and the cleanup of the refuse that was there.

 

“After that, we had a lot of meetings with them that if they want the abattoir to be upgraded to the standard of Botswana and Namibia, that people would come and patronize them and this would add value to the business they are doing and they all agreed.” He added that, all of a sudden, the people started reneging on the agreement and people outside started complaining about the activities going on in the abattoir.

 

 

“People even live in the Lirage and that place is meant for Animals not human beings but when we tell them, our people would not heed. We want abattoir to be upgraded to the standard of having the meat exported. In Africa today, Nigeria has animals more than any other African country. So we need to upgrade to a level that will require patronage.”

 

 

The commissioner revealed that the butchers would be given the ultimatum of three to four months to transform the abattoir into the acceptable standard and anyone who refuses to agree with government would have to leave or the abattoir would be shutdown.

 

 

“We have management in the abattoir, they are private companies. We would sign a contract with them today, in the next six months, they should have completed that” The permanent secretary said, “What I expect from the stakeholders is to adhere to what the government wants them to do.

 

 

We need to improve the slaughtering process, ensure that the abattoir is cleaner than before and devoid of miscreants and be of international standards.”

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