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By George Daniya

 

Minna, the Niger State capital, is clean – in the streets. The Niger State government ensures that state capital is kept clean through the engagement of workers, who tidy up the major streets of Minna every day. However, in the inner city, in the interior of the state capital, there is filth, particularly in those areas close to the major city drains. Residents in these areas dispose their wastes in the drainages, clogging them. Yet, this year, the rains are heavy, and there is fear of flash floods. To prevent over-flooding in these vulnerable areas therefore, precaution must be taken; the water channels must be kept free. Towards this end, there must be sensitization of residents living near the drainages; they must be enlightened not to dump refuse in the waterways to avoid the ghastly 1986 experience when floods swept through the city, pulling down homes and destroying lives and properties. No government will be happy to see a recurrence of that tragedy. Certainly, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello will not be, and he has expressed his displeasure with the dumping of refuse in the waterways several times. It makes the city filthy and odorous.

But the dumping of refuse in waterways is not the only unhappy development in the city that the governor has been concerned about there is also the indiscriminate, unchecked proliferation of billboards and pasting of posters everywhere, which deface the city. Governor Bello has, therefore, called urgent attention of the relevant authorities to the ugly trend. While receiving the Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers, led by the Etsu Nupe, HRH (Alh)Yahaya Abubakar, when they paid him Eid-il-fitr homage at the Government House, Wednesday, the governor frowned at the littering of public structures with all sorts of poster and the erection of billboards without due permission from the relevant authorities. The governor has consequently charged director of Signage to collaborate with Niger State Urban Development Board and the Niger State Board of Internal Revenue to ensure that the right thing is done.

And the director of Signage has a lot to do. Billboards cannot be erected anywhere, without approval.The directorate must swing into action to stop the indiscriminate littering of the state with billboards, a practice of many politicians, or their supporters. The governor said, while he is not stopping anyone from placing billboards and posters in public places, those doing it must be ready to pay. The governor reminded advertisers, public relation agencies, and the public in general that there is an existing law stipulating how billboards should be erected. He urged the department of signage, urban development, and the board of internal revenue to come together to implement the law. He said he finds it irritating even to see his own posters on government structures, and he regrets that even the roundabouts the government renovated at a huge cost have been defaced, making the state capital unsightly. It is not, in the words of the governor, not fair and right to waste efforts and public resources in that way.

When Governor Bello came on board, he expressed a zero-tolerance for billboards. He particularly warned against being celebrated on billboards and posters, saying he did not want to be a billboard governor. It is not just an expression of humility, a hatred of deification, but a deep-seated dislike for disorderliness, which indiscriminate posters impose on the city.  As the 2019 election gets closer, posters and billboards will play major roles in communicating political messages. It will be a period that will test the will of the relevant authorities to enforce the law.

Governor’s Bello campaign against billboards and posters should be supported all and sundry; we should all desist from posting bills everywhere without authorisation. Youths who post political messages under the cover of the night for their sponsors must stop henceforth.Since the inception of the present administration, the governor has been up and doing in ensuring that the beauty of Minna is not only kept, but enhanced.Apart from renovating the roundabouts, he has interlocked the rib of the major road passing the town. The project did not only beautify the street, it provided employment, albeit temporary one, for the youths, while also serving as training ground forjobless youths on interlocking work.

Last word: The 2019 general election process is already underway as sensitization and awareness has started. While at the Government House, the Etsu Nupe, HRH (Alh)Dr  Yahaya  Abubakar cautioned politicians to play politics according to the rules of the game. That is timely; we need free, fair, and credible elections, and above all, we also need elections that will not be tainted with bloodletting and violence. Therefore, the politicians must not only play by the rules, the youths must stand up and say ‘no to violence.’ They must not allow themselves to be used as instruments of destruction. If any politician wants to use you as a thug, ask him to employ his children and siblings for the role.

TAURARUWA