Former Lagos Deputy Governor, Adejoke Adefulire and top government officials at the event

By Taiwo Okanlawon

The Lagos State Government at the weekend charged residents of the state on the need to plant tree and turn waste to wealth by recycling empty bottles for a cleaner and safer environment.

The government made the call during a programme to commemorate this year’s International Day of Peace at the Gani Fawehinmi Park, Lagos. The programme was organised by the Citizens Mediation Centre, CMC, an arm of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice.

The 2019 International Day of Peace has the theme: “Climate Action for Peace: Clear Blue Skies.” The theme is expected to raise public awareness through campaigns and advocacy to the threat posed to human settlements through natural disasters, conflicts, food security and deforestation.

Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General of the State, Moyo Onigbanjo, SAN, said the people owed it as a duty to sustain “our world by adopting and supporting the use of renewable energy and environmentally friendly practices.”

Onigbanjo said the programmes were put together to engage members of the public to adopt a peaceful and harmonious attitude and promoting a “Green” environment through planting of trees and flowers to beautify the environment and cleanse it of toxic substances.

He said, “We will also use this opportunity to encourage manufacturers and producers of consumable goods to ensure that packaging of their products are biodegradable or can be recycled.

“The causes of flooding in some areas of Lagos State are traceable to the disposal of plastic and nylon products to clog the drainage channels. We have to synergise as a people to ensure that waste products are properly disposed.

“The Year 2019 International Day of Peace celebration is another opportunity for us, as a people, to be in harmony with nature by ensuring environmental management and conservation for the benefit of our society and future generations.”

Onigbanjo, however, called on everybody to desist from illegal or unwarranted cutting or uprooting of trees, flowers and plants to beautify their environment.

“A green environment will promote harmony in the society. Let us all promote peaceful co-existence and harmony in the world by planting trees,” he said.

Speaking with journalists at end of the programmes, the Chairman, Governing Council of CMC, Honourable Justice Yinka Gbajabiamila said the essence of the awareness was to let the public know that the whole world had to be a clean-up space.

“People are dying, the ecosystems are been wasted, the ice is melting, the water levels are rising, floods are increasing and if we don’t reverse it or do something about it, we will all perish.

“And that is one of the reasons for the theme for this year, there is nothing like waking up in the morning, look up in the sky and see blue but most of the time we don’t see them because there is too much pollution everywhere.”

“So, this CMC’s form of reaching out and sensitizing the public that we need to keep our environment, our homes and streets clean,” he added.

Speaking on the initiative, Director of CMC, Mrs. Omotola Rotimi said the centre, as a peacekeeper had to zero in on how to tap into the climate change and bring peace to the environment in commemoration of International Peace Day.

“We thought of doing recycling by collecting empty bottles and by doing so, we are going to have a cleaner Lagos, it will also put food on the table, so we are trying to encourage waste to wealth.

“We are trying to sensitize the public, like the school children that you have seen today, what they have made with empty bottles. You just don’t throw away money because throwing away empty bottles is like throwing away money. These bottles can bring food to your table.

“Burning of these bottles is going to bring a lot of dangers to our environment, so we are saying don’t burn plastics because of the danger that comes from it, rather why don’t we recycle it and make it to good use,” she added.

Rotimi further said that the money made from the bottles recycled would be used to assist children who were out of school in conjunction with Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs.

“We have decided that we are going to plough back to our community by helping children on the streets. We have a lot of NGOs we are working with, they are trying to get the children off the streets. The reason why they are on the streets in the first place is because they cannot afford to go to school. We will assist them in paying their school fees.

“We have some NGOs here that they donate bottles to the school rather than paying with money. What we have done here today is a feat and an eye-opener to all our other colleagues in other government agencies that even though we are civil servants, we can also contribute into the society,” she added.