This Is Akwa Ibom: Environmental Sanitation in A’Ibom

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By Etok Okon

“Cleanliness is next to godliness!” This axiom, however, has both ethical and moral as well as aesthetics bearings, which define the true essence of human existence as both physical and spiritual beings on the planet – earth. Again, the quest by humans to be fructified by the Holy Spirit through religiously assimilation of the principles of the Christian religion should inform and educate all human beings on the need to keep our environment clean all the time.

In fact, the Christian religion’s concept of “Holiness” literally, points to the condition of absolute purity, absence of dirt or filth or corrupt entities – human or objects. Therefore, in as much as human beings strive to attain spiritual and moral holiness, the idea that humans are composites of physical and spiritual beings should inform human beings that the physical cleanliness of the environment of habitation plays a significant role in attracting the yearning spiritual concept – “Holy Spirit”, to dwell with the physical.

Furthermore, we cannot convince ourselves that the true God, who is the God of aesthetics – beauty, can attend to humans in environment of rubbish materials of households wastes and other environmental droppings from both animals and plants families around human homes. Therefore, the maxim “cleanliness is next to godliness” shows the link between the environmental sanitation exercise and our attainment of perfect spiritual relationship with God.

However, the unfortunate situation is that, people seem to have very narrow understanding of what actually define the environmental sanitation day, the day for the monthly environmental clean-up campaign of the present administration in the state. In fact, it is obvious that greater majority of people view monthly sanitation exercise recommended by government as a privilege, only to wash clothing, cooking pots and other kitchen utensils, and perhaps an opportunity to rest and watch home video films at home, before they venture out for business transaction.

Beyond enhancing that spiritual relationship with the supernatural, which should trigger every Christian home to join hands in cleaning up our natural environment, the understanding that “evils” lurk under dirty environments and come out to destroy man, his environment and purpose, should propel every human being into actions of cleaning, safeguarding or protecting the social environment.

Of course, science, over the years has postulated that human existence on earth depends to a large extent on the quality of environment of human habitation. Scientific discoveries also associate various kinds of killer diseases that have plagued humanity with unsafe environment, caused by prevalent of such microbes that infest in filthy environments. Human environment is made up of the home that human beings live, the surroundings of the home and every mundane and extra-mundane object within the locality.

This means that proper environmental sanitation exercise should transcends home hygiene to ensuring the hygiene of the community that we live, by ensuring that every dirty and “unholy” object is removed from our community. And to go about this, governments, community leadership and church should cooperate in the enforcement of sanitation exercise in the state. The government should make it understood to citizens that on environmental sanitation day, which is usually on the last Saturday of every month, residents of a community have the responsibility to go out en-masse and participate in the cleaning up of streets, village square, market square, and other public scenes while the leadership of the church ensures that the surroundings of the church premises have been tidied up on or prior to the day of the environmental sanitation exercise.

In fact, experiences of a couple of last environmental sanitation exercises in some parts of the state, point to the argument that most residents have lost the essence of that day in the state. Our community reporters who went round to observe the levels of participation by individuals, corporate organizations and government agencies in Ikot Ekpene, Abak, Essien Udim and Ikono local government areas, noticed that most people in these areas seemed not to have understood or to have been informed that that day was marked for environmental sanitation, and were seen going about their businesses when the exercise was not yet over.

Also, relevant government agencies that were supposed to enforce the exercise were out of sight, and their physical absence truncated the success of the day as most gutters, were not de-silted and streets not cleared, and even the heaps of household waste materials brought from homes and heaped for packing by the “green brigade” or whatever name, were not packed even up to yesterday.

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