Monday, November 24, 2003

Nigeria: teaching "discipline" through the courts

Bola Tinubu, the [Lagos] state governor, has introduced a campaign known as the "Kick Against Indiscipline", which employs mobile courtrooms and marshals in lime-green shirts to dispense instant justice to citizens who block drains, drop litter or relieve themselves in public.

"We are saving Lagosians from themselves," claims Babatunde Ogungbamila, a Lagos state government adviser. "We are saving them from their own bad habits."

... State officials are keen to play down parallels with the regime of General Muhammadu Buhari, a dictator in the mid-1980s who claimed he would arrest the country's social decline - and clean up Lagos - through a "war on indiscipline".

Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian author, has written of the time as a darkly farcical period featuring compulsory sanitation days and punishment for misdemeanours that included horsewhipping, forcing people to squat with their hands on their ears and hopping on the spot, frog-style. (link)
Lagos has a population of 13.4 million and was the capital of Nigeria until 1991 when the capital was moved Abuja ... mainly because of the trash and the chaos of Lagos.

As the article goes on to say ... the idea of improving Lagos is welcomed but the fines are high for people who are incredibly poor ($7.50 for littering) ... and facilities are poor (only 10% receive satisfactory trash pick-up service).