By Ola Ibukun
What project idea did you generate or nurture during your time in EMPOWER program?
In the beginning, I had this idea on developing frameworks for clean water and sanitation in urban and peri-urban settlements in Lagos, Nigeria. However, in search of realisable and more direct community impacting project, I gradually drifted to environmental monitoring and reporting of hydrocarbon contamination remediation in Ogoni/Niger Delta.
The Niger Delta represents one of the most vulnerable geo-ecosystems in the world, affected mainly by intense petroleum oil exploration and other secondary environmental impacts. Few processes such as unregulated forest logging, seasonal flooding and recently also wetland reclamation are additional concerns. The decontamination of the impacted areas within the area would take several decades and would involve complex technical processes.
What lasting memories do you associate with your time in EMPOWER program?
One of such memories would be the visible common passion among EMPOWER members to develop projects that proffer solutions to real challenges facing human and our societies.
What is the current status of your EMPOWER project?
Coincidentally my EMPOWER project forms a key part of my graduate study program, a first field trip has been made and findings reported, subsequent fields are still needed. So, I would say a quarter of the job has been done.
What is the next phase of your project?
The next phase involves further field trips, reporting and network development.
What internal and external contacts did you build throughout your time in EMPOWER program?
Contacts made with faculties at the Institute of Natural Resources, Environment and Sustainable Development (INRES), University of Port Harcourt. Additional contacts have been established with Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) – Nigeria’s Federal Agency, who are responsible for the on-going remediation of hydrocarbon contaminated areas in Ogoni/Niger Delta.
What is your motivation for joining this EMPOWER project?
I was in search of a group comprising of people with desires to make exceptional contributions to the development of their societies and are as well ready to take future challenging leadership roles, the EMPOWER project offered such a platform.
Will you tell us your life motto at the end?
“Dream dreams and be willing to follow through on them.”
Which elements of EMPOWER training do you find most helpful?
Network building, many of us from the EMPOWER group would remain friends and associates for a long time. Also, the external networks built would be useful overtime.