By Goke Gbadamosi
Going green is a global phenomenon geared towards preserving our world. Put simply, to go green is to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle for the sake of preserving the global environment. However, the concept seems to be a strange idea to majority of Nigerians. This is understandable, considering the socio-economic realities that the average Nigerian grapples with on a daily basis. What’s more, more than half of the populace is presumably not literate enough to comprehend the necessity of us making the environment better for future generations. In other words, the “sellability” of the concept to most Nigerians, irrespective of socio-economic or educational status, appears to be somewhat of a challenge.
But then, that does not change the reality that the few individuals or organizations which either identify with or propagate the “green” cause must find ways to surmount the challenge. This important need is underscored by the fact that no less than 4 goals of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders on 25th September, 2015 at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit are directly or indirectly tied to the concept of going green. Moreover, Nigeria and other developing countries across the globe, notwithstanding the urgent internal challenges they face, must endeavor not to be left behind in the global drive towards saving the environment.
One good way to prevent being left behind is for the country to make the “going green” idea a national issue. The mass media has a significant role to play in this regard. Reporters, newspaper columnists and broadcasters for instance, must continually dedicate their time, energy and other resources to propagating ideas and stories that sell the concept of preserving the environment. The aim, of course is to sufficiently stimulate interest amongst the literate who would then consciously spread the gospel to the less literate sooner or later.
The weekly environment pages in the Nigerian Tribune, tagged ‘Ecoscope’ by Doyin Adeoye comes in handy for illustration. Through ‘Ecoscope’, Adeoye has managed to consistently distill global environmental issues for the Nigerian audience. Equally, Greg Odogwu, an environment columnist in Punch Newspaper, has churned out numerous environment-related write-ups that raise the awareness of Nigerians on issues that might not have been of concern to them on a good day. Interestingly, Like Adeoye and Odogwu, there is quite a good number of other media practitioners who focus on environment but it is exigent that the number increases.
Another approach to catching up with the developed world in terms of environmental protection is to move beyond merely keeping the idea simple and straight. It is not enough to communicate the “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” mantra to the society in understandable English. Considering the relatively low level of literacy amongst the Nigerian populace, it is more expedient that such a message be made more accessible through indigenous languages and Pidgin English.
Thus, proponents of the “green” cause should begin to appropriately convey messages on environmental preservation through local communication mediums. This would effectively ensure that a fish seller in an Ilaje community, for instance becomes just as aware of the basic knowledge of going green as a Bank Executive on Broad Street in Lagos Island or a Professor in Ahmadu Bello University, for example.
Besides, the country must begin to consider ingraining the “green” idea in the consciousness of kids. This approach hinges on the fact that most people carry ideologies of their childhood throughout their lifetime. While parents should endeavor to train their children and wards to be environmentally responsible, government should, on its part, ensure that the concept of going green is worked into elementary school curriculums. Also, individuals who have taken it upon themselves to champion the “green cause” would fare better if they focused on the next generation.
One noteworthy point of reference in that regard is the book, Green Education for the Youth, written by the First Lady of Ogun State, Mrs Olufunso Amosun. A flip through the book reveals an easy-to-read compendium of various salient issues related to going green, targeted at raising environmentally conscious children in the country. Apparently, this strategy by Amosun was meant to catch the minds of our future leaders. It is, one could conclude, a viable approach to achieving sustainable development.
All in all, the strategies highlighted thus far are just a few of numerous possible others. There is no ultimate way towards spreading the “green” gospel or ensuring that Nigeria cease to play catch up with the rest of the world. What remains sacrosanct is that stakeholders in environmental preservation and protection ensure that the need for the country to go green is no longer overshadowed by present harsh socio-economic realities. It is time we put on our “greening” caps.
• Gbadamosi writes from Abeokuta, Ogun State