The Need To Protect The Aesthetics Of Our Urban Environments
The first known contact man came into in life was with his environment. As the Bible tells us in the Book of Genesis, chapter 2 verse 15, God, after making man; Adam, in his image, put him in the Garden of Eden. God's expectation from man was very explicit; he had to dress and keep the Garden.
As we have severally read, God beautified the Garden of Eden with fruitful trees and, therefore, made it a pleasurable site to behold. By charging Adam to dress and keep the Garden, God simply emphasized the need to protect the aesthetics of Adam's environment.
Many scholars of international repute, including Professors Kenneth Dike and Adiele Afigbo, have enough documented evidence to prove that the Igbo are historically of the Jewish origin. Another acclaimed authority in ethnology; Olaudah Equiano, an Igbo ex-slave in London who had traveled extensively, had incontrovertibly adumbrated many historical facts in support of the truth that the Igbo are of the Jewish stock.
Any body that knows the Igbo man, would easily attest to the fact that he is very neat, decent and environmentally friendly. The Igbo man, therefore, has a pedigree that encompasses, personal hygiene and environmental consciousness. These two form part and parcel of the Igbo culture. As Professor Ikenna Nzimiro; another Igbo scholar and a sociologist, would put it, culture is the way of a people's life. The way of life of the Igbo man, in general and in particularthe Abian, is conscious attachment to his environment. He dresses and keeps it.
For some time now, our environment have been polluted by reckless, irresponsible and illegal dumping of refuse and other forms of material waste, emission of gas, acts of deforestation, destruction of aquatic life and earth–breaking noises emanating from industries and some churches using exotic methology in their mode of worship. Vehicles that have faulty exhaust-pipes also go a very large extent destroying the purity or sanctity of our environment.
A very worrisome dimension the debasement of our environment has taken, which is yet to arrest the curiosity of our Town Planning authorities, officials ofPhysical Planning and Urban Renewal, Ministry of Environment and the Local Government Councils, is the unrestricted invasion of our urban areas by ever-increasing number of very unsightly, indecorous and nauseating beggars.
In as much as one is not being sadistic over the misfortune of others, one is, however, compelled to express worry over the magnitude of indecency our urban cities have been turned into by the presence of mendicants; a good number of whom manifest varying degrees of physically-sored ailments.
Any one that takes a trip to Bata Junction and the Christ the King Church, along Asa road, both at Aba, would not have any difficulty in ascertaining the quantum of environmental defacement the Enyimba City has been traumatized with. Ironically, a cursory glance at those beggars would easily reveal that they are not of Abia origin. In the same vein, the Akanu-Ibiam Avenue and Aba road, both in capital city of Umuahia, are gradually being infested with a band of beggars, whose origin too is not Abian.
No matter how tolerant and charitable a people may be, there should be no compromise in upholding the environmental sanctity of their society. From available intelligence, it is strongly believed that some State Governments, in their bid to rid their environment of street beggars, arrest beggars in their streets and haul them out to different destinations. This they do using the wee hours of the night. It may not be improbable that these beggars that have flooded Abia State, especially Aba, were given forced entry into the state.
This probability could be indisputably corroborated by the very painful fact that the government of a neighbouring state could, out of sheer display of immorality and gross irresponsibility, package toxic waste generated in her state and transport same for illegal dumping at Aba in Abia State. Who knows how long this aberration had and would have been going on but for the eagle-eyes of the deputy general manager of Abia State Environmental Sanitation Agency;Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, whose dedication and curiosity led to the discovery of this heartless environmental assault on Abia State and consequent arrest of one of the culprits?
As it has always been said, governance is a collective responsibility. The governor of the state; Chief T.A. Orji, will only do what a governor can do. The rest will be done by other departments and agencies of government and the people.
Contemporary challenges thrown up in our sustained efforts to dress and keep our environment as directed by God, demand that all hands should be on deck. The state House of Assembly should review and update her laws on dumping of refuse, noise pollution of any type, deforestation, destruction of aesthetics and illegal haulage of beggars into the state, amongst many others.
The Local Government Area Councils in Aba and Umuahia should liaise with Ministries of Physical Planning and Urban Renewal and Women Affairs to ascertain the state of origin of these beggars and make immediate arrangements to return them to their home states. If, on the other hand, any Abian is found to have, contrary to the way of life of Abia people, joined this pungent habit of street begging, the office of the wife of the Governor, which has been doing an appreciable work in the area of social rehabilitation, may have to intervene as to know why he or she should be doing that which is uncustomary among the Igbo, work on his or her psyche and get him or her effectively re-integrated into the dynamic Igbo society of vision, mission, adventure, enterprise and egalitarianism.
Nnaji Obed Asiegbu
SA e-Governance & Strategy
to the Abia State Governor