By Chibuike Burxymoore Emmanuel, Nigeria
When popular Nigerian musician TY Bello sang the song ‘The Land is Green’ from her Greenland album, she was re-echoing an ideal birthed by Nigeria’s founding fathers. This ideal is captured so ebulliently on the Nigerian flag which is striped Green White Green. This greenness represents the rich and fertile soil-the precious earth on which we dwell on. Generations after, Nigerians are still embracing this greenery pushing sustainability across civic, public and business spheres. This is a tale of their exploits.
Desmond Majekodunmi is a renowned Nigerian environmentalist and the chairman of Lagos State Urban Forest and Animal Shelter Initiative (LUFASI). As part of the governing council of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) he helped introduce ecology to the Nigerian school’s curriculum, plus establish a National Environment Protection Agency and National Parks Authority. Recently LUFASI and Green Faith Nigeria engaged religious leaders of Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism to preach environmental consciousness from the pulpit. The younger generation is also punching its weight. Jennifer Uchendu’s Sustyvibes aims at delivering trend engagements on sustainability in Africa while EDEN-GCP founded by three young Nigerians has reached half a million people with its environmental sustainability sensitization activities.
In the public service, 34-year-old Sanusi Ohiare is currently the only Nigerian with Rural Energy Development Ph.D. specialization. As the executive director of Nigeria’s Rural Electrification Agency, he ensures that all the organization’s interventions contain at least 30% of renewable energy generation technologies from hydro, solar-photovoltaic, wind and biomass sources. Furthermore, beyond issuing the first sovereign green bonds last year, this January the Nigerian Stock Exchange led Nigeria’s first Climate Finance Accelerator (CFA) workshop. It galvanized partnerships from the likes of Nigeria’s foremost private sector think-thank, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Ministry of Environment, Financial institutions and U.K based Climate Advisers Network. Beyond the deliberations on how the private sector can contribute to making the Paris Agreement and its 2020 climate change commitments a reality, twelve green/eco-friendly businesses were selected for support. The Nigerian government has also started exploring agricultural biotechnology as a means to not just improving yield but ensuring environmental sustainability. Within two years it has approved the growing of Bt cotton and cowpea. This will help eliminate 80% cowpea loss due to Maruca pest, decrease toxicity accumulated from pesticides thus improve soil health and ensure yield increase per acreage so reduce decimation of virgin forests.
Nigerians being very entrepreneurial have also monetized solutions to environmental challenges. Ifeanyi Orajaka runs GVE-P™ a Nigerian innovative PV Solar solutions provider which has installed over 500kW of clean and affordable electricity for 30,000 households and created 500 jobs. Then Fatima Ademoh has raised over $250,000 for her Waste-2- Watt renewable energy project converting food waste prevalent in Kuje-Abuja to biogas and supplying electricity to off-grid communities.
More so according to the Environmental Justice Atlas, Nigeria gets 500 containers carrying 500,000 second-hand electronics equipment monthly. So E-Terra Technologies is pioneering recycling hazardous electronic waste. Then Hinckley Associates operates authorized HP Service Centre providing a break and fix services to ensure reuse across Nigeria and West Africa. Also, Nigeria’s population boom and lack of basic waste management infrastructure increasingly birth terrible environmental and pollution problem. For instance, Lagos, Nigeria’s largest metropolitan city built for 17 million people now accommodates 20 million, according to a 2016 National Population Commission of Nigeria Report. Thus Bilikiss Adebiyi co-founded Wecyclers to incentivizes recycling through an SMS-based system that rewards people for turning in their waste in exchange for cash, call-credit, food items, and household goods.
Since then Chioma Ukuonu and Destiny Fredrick have debuted with RecyclePoints and Ecofuture respectively. More women are also nudging this higher. Olamide Ayeni-Babajide’s Pearl Recycling turns solid wastes into art and decorations. Olamide Ayeni left her Network Infrastructure Engineering profession for recreating furniture, décor and household utensils from waste. Beauty Martins reworks old tires to make exquisite designs such as Christmas trees! She says she wants to create her Beauberry Creations exhibition showrooms from used tires!
Nigerians are earnestly striving towards the ethos of a Greenland, but there is still so much to be done. For instance, the country needs to ensure that the 324 billion standard cubic feet of gas flared annually according to Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources is stopped. However, greening the land isn’t exclusive to Nigerians as the earth is one. Even as “environmental threats are now the biggest danger to the global economy”. As noted by renowned natural historian Sir David Attenborough, it behooves on us all to “push against climate change before the damage becomes irreparable”.