Lagos, with its stifling and smelly refuse gardens, pat on medians in prominent high streets and major roads, is somewhat reminiscent of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.
After crash-landing in a jungle, some British public school pupils, the very epitome of British high culture and polite society, descended into savages, killing and hunting down one another.
By the time the pupils were rescued, it was clear the enabling environment was everything, as those Brits exhibited crude behaviours no one could have believed they were capable of.
In Lagos, former Governor Akin Ambode made the most tragic decision of his governorship with his refuse reforms, which promptly turned deform, that eventually hounded him out of office; and robbed him of the sympathy of voters, even if he wasn’t, by any means, the worst governor among his class.
But his refuse management grand miscalculation brought out the refuse beast, in Lagosians, that the previous Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola governorships had worked on, and thought they had buried.
Since that Ambode misstep, Lagos had leapt back, virtually centuries, into refuse atavism, with seeming savages, zooming from the stone and cave age, and descending on Lagos with a vengeance, unfazed in their environmental terrorism!
That is the environmental emergency, nay catastrophe, Babatunde Sanwo-Olu has inherited. As Ambode fades from memory, the new governor would find the refuse question his new plague, for which he would be eaten raw. So, Governor Sanwo-Olu had better plague the refuse decay before the decay starts to plague him, after his gubernatorial honeymoon.
Which is why the governor must roll out a bruising response, no matter how harsh, to deal with the savages that do this dumping. They are nothing but environment terrorists; and should be treated as terrorists are.
But first, the governor should put in place a more efficient and effective refuse-clearing mechanism, the type that would make the city always clean; and take us back to the peak of the anti-refuse success, in the Fashola years. He should make that routine.
But that is not the worst problem in the current refuse emergency. The main challenge would be putting in place and effective neighbourhood intelligence network, to fish out those who pack their household refuse and dump them in the middle of the road.
The governor should take a drive to Ago Palace Way, the most prominent high street in Okota, in Isolo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), and see how the high median is weighed down by indiscriminate refuse sacks, stinking and smelly.
Surely these bags were not dropped by ghosts? The governor should put in place mechanisms to ferret out these environment felons and punish them as environment terrorists are.
If Sanwo-Olu fails to act now, he risks refuse becoming an albatross on his neck, just as it was on Ambode’s. That could well mean that the voter-whip used to tan the old wife is there, waiting patiently in the rafters, to tan the new!