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Editorial: National Sanitation Day – The Call for Attitudinal Change

The National Environmental Sanitation Day, recently observed in Nigeria, serves as a poignant reminder of our collective responsibility towards the environment.

This year’s theme, “Go Greener, Stay Clean: Climate Change is Real,” is a clarion call to every Nigerian to reevaluate and change our attitudes towards environmental conservation.

The theme highlights two critical aspects: the necessity to “Go Greener” and the urgency to “Stay Clean.” Both are intertwined in addressing the pervasive issue of climate change. The emphasis on “Climate Change is Real” underscores the immediacy of the crisis, urging us to acknowledge the environmental degradation occurring globally and, significantly, within Nigeria.

Nigeria faces severe environmental challenges. Urbanization and industrialization have led to increased waste production, deforestation, and pollution. Major cities like Lagos, Kano, Abuja, Kaduna, Maiduguri and Port Harcourt struggle with waste management issues, leading to overflowing landfills, clogged drainage systems, and polluted waterways. These conditions are not just eyesores but breeding grounds for diseases and environmental hazards.

To combat these challenges effectively, a profound shift in public attitude is essential. It is not enough to have periodic clean-up exercises or government policies that address waste management. The root of the problem lies in the general populace’s mindset towards the environment.

Every Nigerian must understand that environmental cleanliness begins with individual actions. Proper disposal of waste, reducing plastic use, and participating in recycling programs are small yet significant steps. Personal responsibility extends beyond the confines of our homes to our streets, workplaces, and public spaces.

Communities must come together to foster a culture of cleanliness and environmental stewardship. Local leaders, community groups, and NGOs play a vital role in organizing clean-up drives, educational campaigns, and sustainability projects. Collective action can amplify the impact of individual efforts, creating cleaner, greener neighborhoods.

Environmental education should be integrated into school curriculums from an early age. Teaching children the importance of conserving resources, protecting natural habitats, and understanding the implications of climate change will cultivate a generation that values and actively participates in environmental conservation.

While individual and community efforts are crucial, they must be supported by robust government policies. Legislation that enforces waste management practices, incentivizes green technologies, and penalizes environmental violations is necessary. Additionally, the government must lead by example, ensuring that public spaces and facilities adhere to environmental standards.

Media outlets have a significant role in shaping public opinion and behavior. They must continue to highlight environmental issues, showcase successful initiatives, and promote eco-friendly practices. Regular features, documentaries, and news reports on climate change and sanitation can keep the conversation alive and urgent.

National Environmental Sanitation Day is more than a commemorative event; it is a call to action. The theme “Go Greener, Stay Clean: Climate Change is Real” should resonate deeply with every Nigerian, prompting us to change our attitudes and behaviors towards the environment.

By embracing personal responsibility, engaging communities, reforming education, and supporting government policies, we can collectively steer Nigeria towards a sustainable future. The time for change is now, and it begins with each one of us.

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