To protect the environment and instill the culture of preservation in the residents of Ogun State, the wife of the governor, Mrs. Olufunsho Amosun recently launched the Going Green Initiative.
Nigeria's first ladies have had one trait in common - Non-governmental organisations. But the stylish wife of the Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun is different. She has no affiliate Non-governmental organisation, but a pet project.
So last week, deviating from her efforts aimed at caring for children and women in the state, she turned her attention on the environment. In this respect, Olufunso Amosun launched a public awareness campaign for environmental development in Ogun State.
Her task was simple: uplifting the environment through tree planting and trekking some kilometers to raise awareness.
Mrs. Amosun disclosed that the programme would incorporate students in such a way that green education will be included in schools' curricula in order to ensure success and continuity of the programme.
She said: "I am taking it from the angle of the youths. I am about to launch an initiative which is called Green Education for the youths because we want the youths to cultivate the culture of going green right from our schools.
"May be we can have extra-curricular activity group where we have little clubs and we teach children the three Rs which is Recycling, Reusing and Reducing waste."
She continued: "It is everybody's responsibility to improve our environment that we live in. It requires joint efforts. I will come out on Children's Day to educate the youths about going green and the green culture. I just want all of them to join me in supporting the governor on his mission to rebuild Ogun state, part of which is rebuilding the environment."
A vision shared by her husband, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, the 'green walk' kicked off at the Moshood Abiola stadium in Abeokuta the state capital through Lalubu street to the new Totoro Road in Abeokuta, where the state governor and other top government functionaries made symbolic planting of trees.
The "Going Green Walk" programme was used to sensitise the public on the social, communal and environmental benefits of tree planting and to discourage the public from indiscriminate felling of trees.
The government's support for the initiative was hinged on the need for the state to key into the numerous benefits derivable from tree planting and ultimately guarantees a healthier environment.
The walk, however, ended at the new Totoro where the governor commended his wife for initiating the idea.
The afforestation as well as conversion of waste to wealth programme of the state government, according to the state Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Lanre Tejuosho, involved planting of 52 million tree seedlings.
"We are creating awareness for our people to plant and protect trees. We have 5.2 million Ogun indigenes and we are targeting ten trees per one person to plant," he explained.
Governor Amosun, who led a large number of Ogun residents and dignitaries that participated in the road walk, including the Chairman, House of Representative Committee on Environment, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, the wife of Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola, the wife of Osun State Governor, Mrs. Sheriffat Aregbesola and the Founder of Fight Against Desert Encroachment (FADE) Mr. Newton Jibunoh, said the program would enhance his 'Mission to Rebuild' Ogun state.
He disclosed that his government had resolved to massively embark on afforestation to mitigate the destructive effects of environmental degradation; create wealth, generate energy and employment through human and industrial waste, adding that the government would liaise with manufacturing industries operating in the state to ensure that industrial waste are turned into wealth by creating employment and energy from it.
He added that having considered tree planting to control flood and other environmental problems, road construction in the state will accommodate corridors where trees will be planted for the actualisation of green environment and protection of the environment for human habitation.
According to him, "gone are the days when human and industrial wastes are thrown away, they are going to be recycled, reused and we are going to turn them to wealth. So everybody including, industries, individuals, students and even our traditional rulers will be incorporated."
He said the programme was also aimed at restoring the state dwindling environment to support the people with the aim of surviving as a human race and to ensure that Ogun State goes green.
He noted that the essence of the initiative could not be over emphasised, saying man's continued existence depends largely on his immediate environment.
"Human beings need oxygen to survive and produce carbon dioxide as a waste product into the environment. Trees and plants generally need this carbon dioxide waste to survive and help keep the atmospheric balance," he said.
He, therefore said the tree planting could not have been more apt as the state was working assiduously towards excellently rated healthy and industrial-friendly environment.
He said: "Nigeria, as one of the most populous country in Africa has been committed to pursuing realistic policies of balancing human needs against the carrying capacity of the environment including its resources.
"Undoubtedly, 'Going Green' is the right strategic choice and our dear state has continued to play a very important role in achieving this objective."
He added: "Today, there is incessant climate change which demands adequate policy framework and effective measures, particularly concerning our environment and policies of sustainable development at all levels should be enshrined to prevent or at least reduce environmental degradation and pollution."
The initiative, according to the governor will contribute to the acceptable habitats for all.
"In our dear state, as part of our 'Mission to Rebuild' Ogun state, we have continued to put in place necessary strategies at ensuring conducive and healthy environment for our people to live.
"In doing this, we have reinstated monthly environmental sanitation with procurement and distribution of waste collecting vans for the collection of waste across the state. Basic policies and regulations have been implemented to prevent deforestation, among others," he stated.
He however, said there was need for Public-private partnership in providing an important policy instrument, and facilitating effective concern for environmental challenges, while stressing that the effort will help in offering great potentials for pursuits of great sustainable development of the environment.
He urged everyone to cultivate the habit of protecting the environment through planting of trees and proper treatment of the atmosphere towards securing the environment against degradation, deforestation, and decline of biodiversity.
He further appealed to everyone to continue the tree planting exercise frequently with the aim of joining hands with the government to make the state green.
Hon. Uche Ekwunife who addressed the gathering assured Ogun state government of federal government's support, especially the National Assembly on the realisation of its afforestation and waste to wealth programme, adding that National Assembly's legislation on environment will be extended to the state.
According to Ekwunife, the National Assembly will partner with the Governor and his wife to ensure that "Ogun state nurtures and maintains what we have started here today."
"The president has approved some money for some states in the North for their afforestation programme and I am sure very soon it will extend to other states. I will put machinery in motion to ensure that our further legislative duties on environment get to Ogun state," she said.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Environment Ambassador and Founder of Fight Against Desert Encroachment (FADE), Newton Jibunoh vowed to support Ogun state programme on environment.
"We have been doing this all around the world. What is happening here is replicating the initiatives that UN has been talking about over the years. That is why I have come to make my own contributions," he stated.