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Susty Person of The Week

Susty Person of The Week – Alex Akhigbe

Alex, an astute Activational Speaker, Environmental Activist and passionate Nation Builder is the Managing Director of Passion House and also the Executive Director of African Clean-up Initiative; a not-for-profit organisation poised towards raising Environmentally Responsible Citizens.

Alex passion for Environmental Sustainability and Nation Building led him to initiate the Clean-up Nigeria Project that has successfully created a platform for people to volunteer for a cause that has a great impact on the environment. This highly successful project has gained both National and International Recognition.

The Clean-up Nigeria Project has been able to execute the following projects with the support of Lagos State Ministry of Environment, Lagos Waste Management Authority, RecyclePoints, Greenhill Recycling, Susty Vibes and other notable organisations.: Clean-Up Ajegunle, Clean Up Mushin, Clean-Up Amukoko, Clean-Up Surulere, Clean-Up Oshodi, Project Clean & Recycle, Clean-Up Makoko, Clean-Up Ketu, Clean-up Papa Ajao, Clean-up Ilupeju, and Obafemi Awolowo University Campus Clean-up Project with well over 5000 volunteers recorded to have attended this Clean-up projects.

AlexGREAT is also the convener of Campus Clean-up Project, and African Clean-up Conference and Award. He is also a member of the Chambers of Computer and Logistic People in India

Alex’s innovative concepts towards National Transformation earned him Recognition and Direct Membership as a Partner with Clean-Up the World Project in Australia, and Let’s do it World Clean-up in Estonian. He once served as the South-West Coordinator (Nigeria) for Africa Youth Initiative on Climate Change (Gambia).

Alex led a team of 7 delegates from Nigeria to attend Let’s Do It West Africa Clean-Up Conference that took place in Ghana in 2011. Also attended a West Africa Regional Clean-up Conference in Cotonou, Benin Republic in 2012.

 

AlexGREAT is a Nation Builder and GEMSTONE Ambassador / Captain. He is happily married to Eunice, his best friend and are both blessed with three daughters; Cherish, Stephanie and Jewel.

Read our chat with him below:

How did the idea to set up clean-up movements in Nigeria start up?

The idea started in 2009, December to be precise; It came as a burden to do something for the environment that will impact the lives of people. I guess it has to do with my background; I was born in Ajegunle. While growing up I had serious experience of water flowing into our house as a result of bad drainage system. Whenever it’s raining then we are always scared because we know some of our items will eventually get spoilt as a result of water flowing into our room from the gutter, leaving the house messed up and smelling. I grew up in a “Face Me I Face You” kind of apartment in Ajegunle. Lagos. Nigeria.

This is one ugly experience I had while growing up that I will never forget in a hurry.

How would you measure impacts so far?

 The Clean-up Nigeria Project started in 2010 and have successfully executed the following clean-up events: Clean-up Ajegunle in December 2010, Clean up Mushin in March 2011, Clean-up Amukoko in June 2011, Clean up Surulere in 2011, Clean-up Oshodi in December 2012, Project Clean and Recycle in December 2013, Clean-up Makoko in June 2014, Clean-up Ketu in June 2015, Clean-up Papa Ajao in March 2016, Clean-up Jemtok in July 2016, Clean-up Ilupeju – August 2016, Obafemi Awolowo University Campus Clean-up October 2016.

 Impacts for us can be measured in two ways:

* The Environmental State of the Community: A case study is Ajegunle, the state of the environment in Ajegunle today is far better than what it was in 2010 when we had our first clean-up project. Most areas that used to be described as very dirty is now looking clean. We have eventually become a platform for organisations and people that have passion for the environment to leverage on to give back to the communities. We now have a better working relationship with the Community Development Associations in the Local Government and Local Community Development Areas; we have been able to deliver a cleaner environment to the few communities we have worked with.

* Impact on our Volunteers: We have been able to witness large number of Volunteers sign up for the Clean-up Nigeria Project; our volunteers are always looking forward to the next clean up event. They see it as a good platform to give back to the community. People are now better informed of their environmental needs and how they can respond better as agents of positive of change.

 We have been able to raise more citizens that are environmentally responsible. One of the challenge we had in 2010 when we started was volunteers were not willing to sign up for our project for free, they were always asking for money but today the case is different, some of them are even willing to support the project in their little ways. Guess it is because of the impact the project has had on them and their community that made them develop great love for the Clean-up Nigeria Project and Environmental Sustainability.

 What must Nigerians start doing differently to ensure a cleaner Nigeria?Nigerians need to understand that the planet earth is all we have in common and it is our responsibility to protect and celebrate the earth. Keeping the environment clean is a responsibility that belongs to all and not the government alone.

We need to take ownership of our environment. Having a stewardship mentality will help in developing a healthy culture towards ensuring a cleaner Nigeria.

Every Nigerian should have what I describe as ENVIRONMENTAL PLEDGE – (Personal Social Responsibility) towards the environment. It has to be intentional to be sustainable.

What do you do for fun?

This is one aspect of my life I really need to upgrade. The only way I know how to catch fun for now is to play with my phones and laptop. I am really not the type that set out time to hang out or watch movies in cinemas. Maybe I will have to learn how to catch fun from Susty Vibes! {laughs}

 I love playing table tennis though can’t remember when I played it last. I will be so happy to find a play mate. {laughs}

What do you see changing in the environmental space in 2017?

 In 2017, every organization that wants to operate in the environmental space should be properly structured and positioned because I see lot of opportunities springing up for operators in the waste management business. I really look forward to positive changes.

The recycling business will be gaining more attention and recognition in 2017, government agencies will be getting more involved and partnering with organisations to maximize the opportunities around recycling.

 I truly hope we would experience less flood this year.

What SDG does your organisation support and why?

SDG 6 is our major focus as an organization (African Clean up Initiative) though we support other SDGs.

SDG 6 focuses on Clean Water and Sanitation. The overall purposes of sanitation are to provide a healthy living environment for everyone, to protect the natural resources (such as surface water, groundwater, soil), and to provide safety, security and dignity for people when they defecate or urinate.

 We consider SDG 6 to be the most important goal amongst the other SDG’s. If you check closely you will discover other goals needs SDG 6 to thrive and make impact. SDG 6 supports and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management. Improved sanitation has significant impacts not only on health, but on social and economic development.

 It is very important to be conscious of developing a healthy habit towards keeping our environment clean at every time because first impressions matter when it comes to relating with the environment; if someone walks into a place of business or a home that is filthy, there is a possibility that the person might not come back. Many people are turned off by homes filled with garbage, piled-up dishes and other items that attract germs. Sanitation helps to make people feel safe and comfortable.

What were some of your highlights from 2016?

We had our first African Clean up Conference and Awards in 2016 in partnership with Federal Ministry of Environment in Abuja. Nigeria, Lagos State Ministry of Environment, and Africa Youth Initiative on Climate Change in Gambia amongst others.

 Also we partnered with susty vibes to organise the first Campus Clean-up Project in Obafemi Awolowo University.

 We were able to execute the following Clean-up Projects in 2016:

  • Clean-up Papa Ajao in March 2016
  • Clean-up Jemtok in July 2016
  • Clean-up Ilupeju – August 2016.
  • Obafemi Awolowo University Campus Clean-up October 2016

What are the greatest challenges you face in your work?

Sponsorship or Funding; many thanks to some of our partners and friends that have always been there for us to give their support. It’s really difficult getting corporate organisations to sponsor some of our clean-up projects. We hope this will change with time.

Nevertheless, we are determined never to allow this challenge affect our love and commitment towards the environment.

People wonder how you ensure that previously clean-up communities remain clean; do you have any follow-up strategy in place?

One of the strategy will apply is whenever we want to carry out clean up activity in any community, we look out for organizations in that community that are into environmental sustainability to partner with because after the exercise the organisations take it up as their responsibility to ensure the community remains clean.

 We also have Green Ambassador Representatives in some of this communities that keep us posted on the state of their environment and also sensitize the people living in the community why they should always keep their environment clean.

 Also as part of our sustainability plan, we partner with organisations like RecyclePoints and Greenhill Recycling to introduce incentives based recycling scheme into this community we have worked with which is an avenue for us to stay in touch with this community

How can people contact you to learn more about your work?

We can be reached via any of this following channels:

  • Facebook: African Clean up Initiative AND Clean up Nigeria Project
  • Twitter: @ACUInitiative | @CleanUpNigeria | @iamalexgreat
  • Instagram: @cleanupnigeria
  • Website: www.cleanupnigeria.org.ng
  • Whatsapp/Call/Text: +234 803 33 40972
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SustyVibes is a one-stop online platform for all sustainability news and trends from Nigeria and Africa at large. Contact us: [email protected]