This is the exclusive story of how a 23 year old barrister and global ambassador is inspiring thousands of youths all over Africa through his personal mission to save the earth.
Please tell us, who is Barrister Ayomide Atitebi?
I’m a young Environmental Leadership Advocate and a Public Speaker with remarkable zeal for youth empowerment and youth action for Sustainable Development. I challenge mediocrity in people and constantly create platforms for personal development in ways that society can benefit and be grateful for.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by a lot of things including my failures. They remind me of my humanity and vulnerability and that in all I do, the best of me will always be human. But that despite my failures, I have enormous abilities to push beyond the boundaries of acceptable possibilities, inspire phenomenal exploits and rise above any circumstance to lead a life that has never been seen and tell a story that mortality has no power over!
You are remarkably passionate about your environment, what led to having such great concern?
The catalogue of woes that has befallen humanity in the last decade as a direct consequence of man’s sheer disconnect from nature led me to having the great concern I have for environment. Humanity forgets the vulnerability of nature, hence continues to place horrendous and very extreme demands on it with attendant effects that do not only threaten our present but seriously paint the picture of a future of horror, too gloomy to behold!
As an Environmentalist, what is your duty?
My duty is to be a part of my environment and care for it the way I would myself, while being its loudest voice, calling on humanity not to destroy it if we cannot fix it!
In Nigeria, we are currently dealing with a myriad of issues with majority of Government development initiatives focused on wealth creation for the economy and less for our environment. Do you think giving more attention to our environment can also play a huge role in wealth and job creation?
Absolutely! The natural environment plays an important role in supporting economic activity. As a matter of fact, economic development versus environmental sustainability is a false choice!
There cannot be any form of economic development without our environment because it contributes directly by providing resources and raw materials such as water, timber and minerals that are required as inputs for the production of goods and services which of course, are the heart of wealth and job creation; and indirectly, through services provided by ecosystems including carbon sequestration, water purification, managing flood risks, and nutrient cycling.
Government intervention in environmental sustainability therefore becomes imperative. Good environmental policy and implementation will operate to manage the provision and use of environmental resources in a way that supports improvements in prosperity and wellbeing, for current and future generations.
In what way?
Addressing environmental issues presents a huge opportunity for growth and development. Waste alone for instance, has become a huge source of revenue generation in several developed countries through recycling and conversion for generating power. Ridding Nigeria of waste therefore will mean creating jobs for people who would collect the waste, jobs for people who would recycle the waste collected and make new products from them which would again be needed to be taken back to society for sales which opens more job opportunities and reduces unemployment and poverty to the lowest levels.
Again, generating power from waste (still as one instance of many environmental issues) will mean industries especially small and medium enterprises will be able to perform better with available electricity and when businesses perform well, the economy receives a good boost.
Let’s look at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On September 2015, Countries adopted a set of goals to alleviate Poverty and Protect the Environment. As a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Advocate, do you think Nigeria as a whole is on the right track to ensuring these goals are met?
While there’s a lot to be done, I believe Nigeria is on the right track to ensure the Sustainable Development Goals are met. We have demonstrated a very remarkable commitment by showing best practice in early domestication and integration.
What can be done to fast track the achievement of these goals?
Sub-national mainstreaming, inter-agency coordination and institutional strengthening. The successful implementation of the SDGs will largely depend on partnership, inclusiveness and accountability.
Very importantly, young people are major drivers of the Sustainable Development Goals and they have unprecedented ability to achieve them. We must support and empower young people to take ownership of the Global Goals by localizing them and taking credible initiatives that address the various issues covered by the Goals.
As one of Africa’s Environmental Leaders, what do you propose in tackling Environmental issues especially in Nigeria and other African Countries?
Value re-orientation because it is the major challenge about environmental issues. Our people either don’t know or they simply do not care about their activities and their environmental impacts.
Until we begin to reinforce in a very massive way, environmental ethics in people, we will keep hovering around like a marionette and efforts will continue to address issues that won’t end! Human induced environmental crisis are behavior-related. To tackle environmental crisis in Africa, behaviors must be reshaped and this will only happen when people have the right values.
Having served and certified twice as Regional Ambassador to Nigeria for the United Nations Environment Programme (Tunza Ecogeneration), what measures have you taken personally and publicly to safeguard our environment?
First of all, I’m an influencer. The first values anyone who comes in contact with me will probably pick, are environmental responsibility values. You can’t be in my network and be environmentally problematic.
Over the years , I have successfully led clean-up and tree planting projects in many communities in Nigeria, organized Nigeria’s first Eco-Photo and Design Contest , facilitated a good number of eco-literacy programs for youth and kids in different States in Nigeria, I frequently participate in TV and radio programs to enlighten the public on environmental responsibility, volunteer for international nongovernmental environmental organizations to promote youth and children’s participation in pro-climate activities.
Currently, I host the world’s first social media inspirational environmental chat tagged #MyGreenStory; a program that engages exceptional environmental leaders to share their stories with the world with the goal of inspiring and developing a new generation of exceptional environmental leaders.
Any future plan?
You will know them as they unfold. Hahaha!!!
Let’s digress a little; all work and no play make Barr. Ayo a Smart Kid – Please tell us “Mr SAVE EARTH”, what do you do for fun aside saving the world?
I write poetry, see documentaries and listen to rock. Recently, I’ve picked up writing raps and laugh at myself when I do it, looking at myself in the mirror.
What’s your favourite meal?
Black amala with egusi soup. Please, add some snails and mushroom and I will tell you the password to my mobile bank app!
That’s a sweet challenge! Any favorite place?
Water sites – oceans, rivers and waterfalls.
What’s your greatest achievement?
Inspiring people to dream and become more with the amazing results I have and live daily.
How many Awards / Nominations have you received?
Ha! You want me to start feeling cool? Hahaha!!! (Just a joke). Well, I have a few awards in my bag and very notable among them are “United Nations Environment Program Tunza Eco-Generation Regional Ambassador Award of Excellence (2014 and 2015)”, “Most Influential Under-25 Environmentalist in South West Nigeria by GSYA (2015)”, “Eco-Leader Award (2016). I was the 50th Anniversary Face of Nigeria’s foremost Faculty of Law – OAU.
How old are you?
One scores and three years. Getting old…!
To a MULTITUDE of youths, you serve as a Role Model. These days, youths see being in a leadership position as a challenge and a huge task. Having held several leadership positions and played different leadership roles, what advice do you have for emerging and aspiring leaders?
There is no such thing as a born leader. All great leaders are made on the altar of purpose, vision, service and character.
Any final Words of advice?
Imagine a world without water, a world without birds, a world without trees, a world without food, a world with air too poisoned you are scared to breathe, or scared to walk in the sun because you do not know what toxic substances are in it! If you cannot imagine life in that kind of world, then do not make our environment sicker than it is!
And what do Bill Gates, Malala Yousafzai & Ayo Atitebi Have In Common?
They are busy saving the world from self-destructing.