On Saturday the 19th of March 2016, I was at the #CleanIbadan project organized to clean the Ajibola Community of Bodija Ojurin, Ibadan. The project was part of the #Clean9ja project which was going on in two other cities at the same time. The Ibadan mini project was coordinated by Global Shapers Ibadan Hub.
For one thing I was happy to see young people, like the overall coordinator of the project, Lanre Gideon taking the initiative to help clean communities. In a clime where people are content to sit down and complain that government institutions are not doing anything, anybody old or young to tries to do something no matter how little in the overall scheme of things deserves praise. The image of Ibadan as one of the dirtiest cities has persisted for so long in the national consciousness and that is why efforts being made by young people to change the narrative is always laudable.
It was also heartwarming to see people from all walks of life banding up to help clean the Ajibola community. Volunteers, old and young, male and female, all rolled up their sleeves and sweated as they shoveled and packed mounds of waste in the sun. People came in from as far as Lagos and Akure to help out too. Everybody worked side by side cheerfully and had a good time. It created a reassurance that Nigerians can indeed cooperate in other matters than politics… And sports. It was also more importantly a reassurance that the spirit of volunteering and wishing to make a difference is very much alive in Nigeria.
I am not sure there are many stranger places than over piles of waste and rubbish to make connections and bond. That however did not stop the #CleanIbadan volunteers from doing so all the same. It was great to see people sharing ideas and exchanging information and contacts as they packed dirt. I met quite a number of people myself who enthusiastically shared their projects on cleaning the environment and affirmative climate change actions with me. There is therefore no iota of exxageration in saying that the work that Wecyclers and Global Shapers, Ibadan Hub have done in the Ibadan community is the start of something great, not just in the area of physical projects but in the area of values reorientation and citizen responsibility.
Apart from Wecyclers and Ibadan Global Shapers which put the whole event together, credit must go to the Oyo State Waste Management Agency (OYOWMA) who brought materials to support the event and also the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) who were on hand to give the event some much needed coverage. However one of the people who must get the highest dose of credit is the Special Assistant to the Governor of Oyo State Babajide Fadoju, who not only used his tremendous influence on social media to create a buzz for and promote the event, but was also around to help with the work and to connect with the volunteers. It was he who contacted the aforementioned BCOS news crew and brought them to the site at short notice. One hopes that he and the Oyo State government which he works for will continue to give events like this the support and incentive they need to make a difference.
One hopes that projects like this do not become one off and they can continue. Because #CleanIbadan and indeed #Clean9ja is the beginning of something great, not just for Ibadan but for Nigeria as a whole.