By Chioma Obinna
Back in the 1970s and 80s, Nigerians have been known for maintaining high standards of cleanliness. Even during the colonial era, huge premium was placed on environmental sanitation, at both community and household levels.
It was mandatory for each household to own a refuse bin of its own, while a regular system of collection was maintained. Unfortunately, these environmental measures gradually got eroded due to the negative attitude of the public towards proper waste disposal.Today, littering and spillage of common waste are commonplace in Nigeria.
But in a move aimed at bringing back the glorious days of environmental sanitation and improve the living conditions of Nigerians devoid of diseases and unhealthy environment, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Passion House have introduced a monthly environmental clean up exercise aimed at inculcating the culture of keeping the environment clean in Nigerian youths.
GSK, makers of Macleans toothpaste is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer while Passion House, an international Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) is into youth empowerment, entrepreneurship programmes and community development.
Head, Procurement and Corporate Functions, GSK, Mrs. Folunso Onobowale Okewande, at a clean up exercise at Surulere Local Council, tagged; “Macleans Clean Up Surulere” noted that littering and spillage of solid waste has become a common feature in the environment. She pointed out that unfortunately, when rain comes, it takes them back to the gutters and the drainage systems are blocked, explaining that these wastes not only block the drainage systems but also attract mosquitoes.
According to her,”there is need for Nigerians to change their altitude about waste disposal. We have waste nylon. There is need for us to put these wastes in those waste nylon bags instead of littering them around the environment. Dispose of these wastes properly because when we live well we will have good health.
“This is the fourth local government we are cleaning in Lagos. We are moving from one local government to the other. We are doing this to set an example to others as to how the environment should be. We believe in cleanliness because our product macleans seeks to ensure that when your mouth is clean, you have the confidence to go places. We are using our product, macleans as a flag ship to appeal to Nigerians to cultivate the habit of cleanliness.”
Senior Brand Manager, GSK, Mr. Uchenna Emeka, said “we have a global mission which is to help people do more live longer, feel better and live longer. How can you help people live longer, feel better? It begins with education. It is a national initiative.
“If you look at this country in the next three or four years, you will discover that we are going to have at least three mega cities and Lagos state is going to become one. There is going to be a lot of pressure on the environment and you need to sensitise the people. Create the culture of cleanliness.
“We want to let people understand that as simple as cleaning their teeth are, they need to do that to the environment. How can I wake up in the morning and the first thing to remember is to brush my teeth meanwhile my entire environment is dirty. It does affect my health. Total cleanliness is what macleans is trying to preach to the environment and the society.
“When we clean we leave samples of Macleans in the hands of the people around so that each time you think of brushing your teeth, you are not just brushing your teeth, you are also looking at the total environment, he said.
Executive Director of Passion House International, Mr. Alex Akhigbe, said his organisation believes that health and cleanliness is something no one can take away from human beings, pointing out that as an NGO, “ The idea of the exercise is to take it round the nation. We don’t just clean but we educate the people on why they should keep their environment clean. The clean up exercise started in 2010. We have been able to do Clean up Ajegunle, Clean up Mushin, Clean up Amukoko, and this is the fourth edition which is the Clean up Surulere”, Akhigbe noted.