Lagos was an orderly urban environment 70 years ago. This was the case from the 1950s, when the city was a federal territory through to the 1960s when it became federal capital – a status it held until 1991.
It was a beautiful environment that featured Portuguese, Brazilian, and British Victorian architecture. Its streets were clean and tree-lined. Urban crime was virtually non-existent.
Governance standards declined when political control of Lagos, and the rest of Nigeria, came under military rule between 1966 and 1979 and again from 1984 to 1999.
The result was increased pollution, congestion and wear on infrastructure. This was particularly true between 1970 and 1999.
By the time democratic rule returned in 1999, Lagos State was ranked among the dirtiest cities in the world according to a United Nation Report.
Uncollected domestic refuse and industrial waste abound everywhere, including on major roads.
Even with the new Environmental Sanitation Law been enforced in the State, Lagos still battled the menace of pollution unabated with resulting negative impact on environment, public health and city outlook.
Interestingly, the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration came on board and changed the narrative.
Tinubu revitalise the city in terms of a cleaner and greener environment, improved road and water infrastructure, urban bus system and waste management, overhaul of security and consultation with citizens through town hall meetings.
Less two years down the line, Tinubu brought back to life the Lagos State Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, which was formally known as the Lagos State Refuse Board Under Edict 9 of 1977.
LAWMA was the first of its kind in West Africa aimed at improving the environment with the impact of achieving positive and significant change in living conditions regarding health and sanitation.
For the 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas in the State to have an healthy environment, Tinubu introduced the Private Sector Participation, PSP, sector in refuse management which aided the creation of an estimated 25,000 jobs among the unemployed who are daily involved in the collection and evacuation of garbage from tenements to designated landfill sites in the State.
In December 13, 1999, while commissioning Ikorodu Local Government Job Creation Centre, he noted his established six job registration centres that were personally thrown open by him in Lagos Island, Ikorodu, Mushin, Agege, Ikeja and Shomolu Local Government Areas and which about 50,000 unemployed graduates were registered at the centre for a start.
The PSP initiative change the narratives by moving the State from list of dirtiest State to one of the cleanest State around the world, as the State Environment became more neater, healthier and conducive for all and sundry.
Successive administration has however leveraged the blueprint of Tinubu since he left office in 2007 till date.
LAWMA has however become an institution that has thrived and is recognised around the world.
It has made waste a money making venture and a source of revenue to the State through recycling and different initiatives as the State has attained a Mega City status.
Other States in the country and in Africa are using the Lagos State story in Waste Management as a yardstick in developing their States.