Minister Pledges N1 Million Grant to Youth-Driven Environmental NGO

Date: 2024-06-09

According to a news report from Nigerian Tribune, the Minister for Youth Development, Dr Jamila Bio Ibrahim, has pledged a N1 million grant to Plogging Nigeria, an environmental non-governmental organisation led by youths and dedicated to sustainability advocacy and climate activism. This support aims to bolster the organisation's efforts in environmental advocacy and youth-led community development across Nigeria.

During the two-day Climate Festival organised by Plogging Nigeria in Ilorin, Kwara State, the minister encouraged youths to take advantage of opportunities to develop green businesses, access loans and grants for food, shelter, and clean energy projects, and to embrace solar energy, wind power, biofuels, and climate-smart agriculture.

Representing the minister at the event were the Director of Enterprise Development, Prince Momoh Olugbenga, and the Assistant Director of Promotion, Mrs Lami Bature.

Speaking on “Youth Preparedness for Climate Action in Nigeria,” as delivered by Prince Olugbenga, the minister commended Plogging Nigeria for convening the festival, describing the event as “a pivotal moment – a convergence of purpose, passion, and responsibility.”

She described the organisers and participants as major stakeholders in enthroning a sustainable environment, adding that: “Our young visionaries are not mere spectators; they are architects of change, carving a sustainable future.”

According to the minister, “climate action is our moral compass. Our national emancipation rests on responsible environmental stewardship. Poverty reduction, social inclusion, healthcare, and climate change mitigation form an interconnected web. Our youth bridge these gaps.”

The two-day festival comprises a climate conference and a marathon-themed clean-up race across 10km within the Ilorin metropolis called Ploggathon. The conference theme was “Climate Action in Nigeria: Finding a Balance between Climate Obligations and (our) National Realities.”

During the conference, three practical panel discussions on waste management and circular economy, droughts and desertification, and sustainable energy transition were facilitated by young climate leaders, innovators/entrepreneurs and policy shapers who shared their thoughts and experiences with a cross-section of 200 physical and virtual participants.

Participants at the event also designed a road map for the Ilorin Green Economy that focuses on sustainable energy access, food security, circular economy, and urban agriculture.

Keynote speakers at the event, aside the minister, include Kwara State Commissioner for Environment, Mallam Shehu Ndausa; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on SDGs, Mariam Nnafatima Imam; Executive Secretary, Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA), Mrs Arese Onaghise and Professor Fola Babalola of the Department of Forestry, University of Ilorin.

In his welcome address, Founder and Executive Director of Plogging Nigeria, Mr Mayokun Iyaomolere, emphasised the importance of discussing how Nigeria should take climate action in line with her economic, social and environmental realities which are unique to her as a country. He equally recognised the support of Zilcycler, the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA), Reblocks and the Glasgow Caledonian University who were major partners and sponsors for Climate Festival Ilorin.

On the second day of the festival, participants competed in the 10km Ploggathon race, which is in its second season, having debuted in Abuja a year ago with the support of the Swedish and Danish embassies. The organisers noted that the idea of Ploggathon was coined from the organisation’s primary activity of Plogging (a Swedish initiative known as Plocka-up – running and picking up litter).

According to the organisers, Ploggathon Ilorin, held in collaboration with the state government and other youth-led groups including YALI Network Kwara, Ilorin Global Shapers, JCI, ROTARACT, Hult Prize, and AIESEC, gathered 210 interests from young people in the city.

R&D Lead at Plogging Nigeria and host of the event, Usaefat Sodiq, described the race, which covered a predetermined route within the Ilorin metropolis along Tanke, Fate-Shoprite, through Post-office and terminating at Flower Garden, as a #BeatPlasticPollution and sustainable waste management campaign.

Addressing the participants Plogging Nigeria’s Administrative Director, Omilabu Ayodeji, said “our Ploggstars removed 106 bags of waste from the environment, covering a distance of 10km in just 145 minutes. This impressive achievement translates to a total weight of 197.5 kilograms of recyclable waste recovered.

“This remarkable achievement is a testament to the dedication and hard work of Plogging Nigeria across the country. We are proud of this milestone and look forward to continuing our efforts towards a culture of responsible waste handling and plastic-pollution-free Nigeria.”

Winners in the male and female categories were presented with cash prizes, medals, branded caps and T-shirts and awards in recognition of their efforts.

First prize winners in the male and female categories, Mobolaji Gabrial Jesutofunmi and Abdulfatai Zainab Opeyemi respectively, were awarded N25,000 cash prizes.

First runner-up prize winners in the male and female categories, Adeshina Favour Oluwafemi and Ogunremi Olamide Sharon respectively received N15,000 while second runner-up prize winners in the male and female categories, Gbadamosi Naheem and Akhalele Comfort respectively got N10,000 each.

Chairman, planning committee of the festival, Ms Ramat Jadesola, re-emphasised the need for young people to remain inspired and committed to change-making towards a sustainable future for Nigeria and the continent.


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