The Rotary club in conjunction with the Rivers state university Institute of Geosciences and Environmental Management has trained over 100 youths in Rivers state on how to convert waste to wealth.
The one Day Seminar and Training event which took place weekend at Oroworukwo Town Hall, in Port Harcourt City Local government Area, Rivers State saw the four Rotary clubs, Rotary club of Port Harcourt Airfield, Rotary club of Port Harcourt Eco, Rotary club of Port Harcourt and Rotary club of Port Harcourt Express in conjunction with the Rivers state university Institute of Geosciences and Environmental Management and Tilda Goes Green the organizers in attendance.
Speaking to Newsmen on the sideline of the event, the President, Rotary club of Port Harcourt Eco, Rtn Dr Anthony Ikpor stated the trust of the event, was to train the youths on how to convert waste to wealth. His words “this is one of the policy trusts of my administration; to train people on how to convert waste to wealth. And in essence what you’re seeing today is a form of empowerment to the youths.”
Continuing, Ikpor said “we are inculcating a mind of creativity in them, for them to ask questions such as what can we do with the nylon bags, plastic water bottles and other domestic wastes littered all over of our neighborhood”
He further stated that youths should embrace a clean environment and have the creative mind on how to turn nothing into something even as he warned that the era of graduating from school and waiting for a white collar job was over.
Ikpor maintained that by starting early, youths can equally create job opportunities for others while making money.
On the government involvement in waste management, Ikpor, a Banking executive and Management consultant insisted that government has done a lot to protect the environment and manage waste disposal but according to him, such could not be left for government alone hence he said he was calling on other organizations, companies and agencies to partner with Rotary for a healthy and sustainable environment for all.
He promised that the awareness would be carried out throughout the LGAs in Rivers state, primarily and secondary schools including market places among others.
Contributing, the Rotary president Port Harcourt Airfield, Rtn, Kelechi Ekezie was of the view that there was so much money in the street but most Nigerians are not aware of it. She said, “there is money in the street to be picked but Nigerians are not aware of it.” She insisted, “there is so much money” speaking further, Ekezie said “what we want to teach them is how to make money while keeping our environment clean”
On Rotary’s decision to involve the youths, she averred that the essence is to catch them young as according to her, the youths are the ones looking for jobs.
She noted that even while waiting for a better opportunity, they should start collecting waste and make money from there even as she emphasized that such did not require any certificate and markets are readily available.
She advised that people should stop indiscriminate disposal of wastes as such affects the ecosystem and cause flooding even as she admonished that “if you know that what you’re disposing is valuable, you keep it”
A resource person, from the Department of Geosciences, Rivers state University, Dr William Azuka Iyama said, the county is talking about population rise. According to him, population rise would definitely affect employment rate. He added there are so many job opportunities in waste management and youths should engage in that instead of engaging in social vices which according to him, is the new trend in the society.
Dr Iyama who is the current councilor (Chairman waste management society of Nigeria WAMASON), Rivers state council and also a chartered chemist and member Renewable and Alternative Energy Society of Nigeria (RAESON) scored the government low in their involvement in waste management.
Iyama, who scored the government 10 % in waste management, said what the government is interested in is the removal of wastes from households without thinking of the level of employment it can generate. He reiterated that if the government should develop a typical Engineering Landfield in Port Harcourt, it could employ about 2, 000 people and ensure that our ground water is safe.
He regretted that some bore pits have been turned into houses even as people construct houses on such lands that were originally dumpsites.
He advocated that some local chiefs should be given a certain percentage of authority in their areas to conduct a monthly environmental sanitation and make sure waste generated is disposed accordingly without blocking the gutters; hence according to him, most areas do not have proper drainage systems but gutters.
He maintained that “since most plastic wastes are non- biodegradable, but form obstacles to the free flow of water, they should be properly disposed”
In his goodwill message, the Director, Institute of Geosciences and Environmental Management, Prof Akuro Gobo alluded to the Biblical scripture where God created man and gave him the power to conquer the earth and make it better. “Unfortunately in our attempt to conquer one, we end up creating other challenges” Gobo said.
Commenting further, he said “Today consider the Environment we are in as regards our conquering the Earth, are we making the environment better?”
He regretted that our poor sanitary efforts have created unimaginable changes even as he noted that “we build, we dispose refuse indiscriminately and block our water ways.”
“We dispose of our wastes indiscriminately into the drainages. Our drainages cannot discharge into nearby Creeks and Rivers. Areas not flooded before are now flooded as a result of our poor waste disposal practices” He said.
He therefore, recommends synergy among neighbours on sanitation, waste disposal and proper construction of drainages among others.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Governor Elect, Rotary District 9141, Rtn Chinedu Ikegwuani has commended the organizers of the programme.
He said the motivation and core mandate of Rotary club is to discover areas of need for the society and humanity in general and provide the needed support.
He maintained that Nigeria would remain underdeveloped until the culture of imbibing the habit of turning what was termed waste to waste.
His words, “Am very happy to be here today, waste is our major problem in Nigeria. We are losing a lot of money, until we turn what we regard as waste to profit, Nigeria will remain underdeveloped” Ikegwuani insisted.
He said what we refer to as waste is just a byproduct to others.
He advised the youths and those present to maximize the opportunity offered by Rotary club, Department of Geosciences, Rivers state university and Tilda Goes Green Foundation to better their lives and that of the environment.
Speaking to our correspondent, some of the participants at the event expressed satisfaction and vowed to put the knowledge acquired in practice even as they enjoined the government and other agencies and organizations to partner with Rotary for the sustainability of what they termed laudable initiative.
High point of the programme was the practical demonstration of how to convert some of the wastes to wealth.