By Wale Bakare.
The 2013 World Environment Day celebrated on the 5th of June brought a new dimension to the way we regard the environment. Several Nigerians treat issues concerning food, health and their connection to the environment with levity and many are not concerned about the significance of such days as the World Environment Day – set aside by the United Nation to review our activities towards the environment.
The advent of social media is changing our perspective to such events. The enthusiasm of the Nigerian youth to participate in discussions on a variety of topics and raise awareness is overwhelming. Platforms such as Bailiff Africa, Waste Watch Africa, Esther Climate e.t.c have changed the nature of the game; bringing pertinent issues to the limelight. These platforms also afford the populace the opportunity to connect and engage with each other on protecting the environment and tackling issues that challenge human health and existence. They have also helped us better understand environmental disaster management, effects of climate change on our food growth, our societal adaptation to climate change and ecosystem alterations, as well as the solutions to common vices before they degenerate into catastrophe.
We have realized that we are a product of our environment, hence the need to observe safer environmental practices which conform to global standards. I am most excited about the changes I have seen within my immediate environment. There is a lot we can achieve with the tools at our disposal to get the government’s timely response to severe cases of environmental disasters. Ultimately, we look forward to Nigeria becoming a nation that is recognized by the international community as a respecter of the environment and one that observes friendly practices worthy of emulation by other African Countries. South Africa and Nigeria are currently benefiting from various assisted grassroots project paving the way for environmental research, policies formulation, poverty eradication and economic and sustainable development.
Taking a cursory look at the events on the home scene, the environment is gaining more attention now than few years ago. Disaster management hotlines are at our fingertips to respond to emergencies in record time. This is a step in the right direction for all activists and advocates of a green sustainable environment. The government is beginning to realise how potent social media is as a tool for effecting change and creating jobs. The enormous potential embedded in proper environment management to create wealth and citizen empowerment to build a health conscious society has been undermined prior to now.
The #SaveBagega campaign is a reference point in this regard; the citizenry (with the help of committed organizations and political officials) held the government up to its responsibility via several social media platforms and in due course funds were made available to commence the remediation of the lead poisoning Zamfara Community. The floods in 2012 were described as the worst Nigeria has had since 1936, killing over 431 Nigerians and rendering several thousands homeless and hungry. Through such platforms as social media, environmentalists have gained the attention of the government to attend to the yearnings of victims who suffered as a result of flood disasters throughout the country.
Such is the power of the new media, the power brokers are aware – now more than ever – about the implications of media and its influence on the society. Protection of the environment has never been more important than it is. The youths leads the way and the government supports. Young people don’t necessarily have to be in government to advocate for environment change. One can make change(s) outside of government as an individual. More and more youths are needed to be encouraged to embrace the global media initiative devoid of geographical constraints and technological limitations.
Wale Bakare is a writer and a social media enthusiast with strong affection for Agriculture, politics and the conservation of the environment. He has published works on numerous online blogs & Magazines. Wale writes for Bailiff Africa from Lagos, Nigeria and can be reached on Twitter at @waleflame and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.