Stella Dimoko Korkus.com: How Governor Sanwo Olu Ordered An Audit Into LAWMA And All Hell Broke Loose...

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

How Governor Sanwo Olu Ordered An Audit Into LAWMA And All Hell Broke Loose...

For more than a week, the refuse bins across the streets were filled to the brim, surrounded by bulging refuse packs. 










Garbage collectors who are contractors of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), under a PSP arrangement, were said to be on strike over the non-payment of their salaries for three months! Street sweepers, with their ubiquitous orange overalls, helping to keep Lagos clean were also nowhere to be seen. 



In the middle of a global public health crisis like COVID-19, and with hygiene as one of the recommended safety responses, I thought Lagos had a big problem on its hand. Waste managers going on strike, in a state that is the epicenter of the pandemic in Nigeria? Many Lagos residents were outraged. Why won’t LAWMA pay waste managers? 



Before long the media focused on the story. The facts as reported in summary are as follows: In May, Governor Babajide Sanwoolu, as part of efforts to reposition LAWMA, was said to have ordered an audit of the agency. The auditors reportedly stumbled on damning irregularities, wastages and leakages within the system. These include the discovery of sharp practices by PSP contractors, the middle men who interface between LAWMA and street sweepers/refuse collectors. LAWMA has 652 of such operators who in turn engage 15, 498 workers, who manage 600 routes across the state. 



The contractors were accused of padding their bills, and passing their cost to the state government. In LAWMA’s record, a sweeper is paid N25, 000 per month as salary, while a supervisor is paid N40, 000 per month. In reality, the contractors don’t even pay their staff up to this amount. As the agency’s wage bill rose from N540 million per month to N1 billion, the Governor asked the former MD to step aside and insisted on an audit. Many of the contractors were found guilty, with the most notorious among them identified as “The Iron Lady”. As part of the reform process, the state government appointed a new Managing Director to oversee the changes that needed to be made. 



It was at this point that hell broke loose. 


Contracts were terminated including that of the “Iron Lady” who alone managed 66 routes. There were attacks on the new management of LAWMA by street sweepers who publicly discarded their orange overalls, and took their case to the social media. They had my sympathy.  Not to pay these hapless workers, who risk their lives every day for mere pittance didn’t look good. But it soon became clear that this was not about LAWMA but some powerful contractors and middle men who were determined to resist and frustrate the proposed reform, insisting that they are untouchable. 



Anyone who is familiar with the waste management process in Lagos will attest to the fact that this is one of the major areas reserved for the purposes of political patronage. The contractors are not necessarily independent. They are either party stalwarts, or their representatives, being rewarded for their contribution to election victory. They have behind them Godfathers who also report to Godfathers. 



Governor Sanwoolu is right to have ordered an audit, and to have asked the former Managing Director to step aside. But the audit must be fair and it certainly can’t go on endlessly. Yesterday, I saw a few street sweepers back at work. There must be some honest contractors whose staff do not deserve to be out of work and whose salaries must be paid. But there must also be a strong monitoring mechanism in place. No contractor should be paid for work not done or be allowed to pad bills. The new man at LAWMA, that is the Acting MD, will need the personal support of the Governor and that of the Commissioner for Environment, Tunji Bello under whose Ministry LAWMA falls. Both Sanwoolu and Bello have been long enough within the system to know where the corpses are buried. 



The Governor should be firm and tread carefully though. One of the reasons adduced for the humiliation of his predecessor, Akinwunmi Ambode was that he too tried to change things at LAWMA.



 In so doing, he stepped on very powerful toes and burnt bridges. The contractors and Godfathers that he displaced never forgave him. They blackmailed him. In the course of the current face-off, I have noticed garbage being dumped, seemingly deliberately, on the streets of Lagos. 


Governor Sanwoolu should be watchful. Nobody, Iron Lady, or Caterpillar Man, should be allowed to play politics with public health and hygiene in Lagos. 


by REUBEN ABATI

30 comments:

  1. No wonder! Everywhere is littered with dirt's 😷😷

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Corruption is the pandemic 9jarians are really suffering from

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  2. First time I read Reuben Abati write up to the end.
    This is just so sad.

    ReplyDelete
  3. corruption in this country is Soooo deeep n wide

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  4. Such a shame that in Nigeria it is all about eating the national cake and nothing more.

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  5. Na wa. Sanwoolu, pls tread carefully o. So your gate won't be like that of Akinwunmi Ambode. Jagaban never forgives.

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  6. Corruption! Corruption!! Corruption!!! This has been the talk for years and whoever tries to stand up against it is been *flushed out*

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    Replies
    1. You are absolutely right. Those contractors also has connections and backbone.

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  7. Replies
    1. That should be Kemi(Former Commissioner),One of the strongest women leader in Lagos Politics and Jagaban right hand person.

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  8. Everyone is chanting corrupt government meanwhile the masses are worse off. Just to manage a section of things to be done to make things better, they have tailor breast pad for the bills. Haba.

    Collecting more than required and not paying those who ought to be paid. May they continued to be removed from power.

    It's dirts you are in charge of ooo. Imagine it's now something you can keep in your house or store. Only God knows what you will do.

    Mtcheeeewwww

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. God bless you sir or ma. No one will have had problems with these Shylock contractors if they have been honestly performing thier duties.

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  9. This is sad. Everybody wants a piece of the national cake. People dey shook eye inside dustbin matter. Na wah.

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  10. Why are the evil contractors shielded? They should be named, shamed and prosecuted. Why names like "Iron Lady"? I don't care who they are. To deny people of 25k wage? How much is 25k? Evil!!!

    The corruption in Nigeria is so deeply entrenched even down to the common man.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are paid less than 20k wage

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  11. Ruben abati am shocked ur wrote up is short today... 😱😱😱😱

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  12. Nigerians need an Abacha like despot. We are not ready to do the right thing on our own.
    We need cane, big cane that will flog anybody that flouts the rules. That’s the only way. Everyday people still take one way because they have one friend or brother to call at either LASTMA or Police to get out or pay lesser bribes.
    It’s a cancer that has eaten deep.

    I don’t even want to talk about what happens up. That one is d worst. May we wake up to do the right thing.

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  13. I don't think they pay those sweepers up to 25k

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  14. You mean abati can summarize like this?

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  15. When will the needed change come if such a decision is not taken now?

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  16. Those on the inside, please come and drop the name of this "iron lady". I suspect is an APC woman leader because like most bloated governments across the world, sanitation, unions and the garment trade are highly political. Lawma has been the consolation prize for APC goons who are not educated enough to be commissioners, advisers or representatives and who are not too high up on the food chain to have their relatives occupy such posts.

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  17. Her full name is wuraola Williams. She is the women leader, she has tinubus backing.

    ReplyDelete

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