Grade Six Pupil Advocates For Effective Natural Resource Management In Nigeria

Miss Oluwateniola Olowoporoku

By Gift Eguavoen

A 6th grader of the Spring Hall British School, Abuja, Miss Oluwateniola Olowoporoku, has called on the Nigerian government and all stakeholders to ensure effective management of the nation’s natural resources for the benefit of today, and future generations.

The 11-year-old primary six pupil made the call at the weekend in Abuja, as part of her enlightenment program tagged “The Head Girl Initiative’ with the theme, Natural Resource Governance.

Oluwateniola in her opening address at the event, explained that the initiative is aimed at increasing children’s knowledge, build capacity and create awareness of various topics affecting children in Nigeria.

She said the initiative is also with an objective to sensitise children about ongoing global trends as it concerns the promotion of women and children’s participation and inclusion in various aspects of life.

Addressing her peers, Oluwateniola said, “Today we embark on a journey that reinforces our commitment to sustainability and responsible stewardship of our environment. Nigeria is blessed with so many natural resources like trees, water, minerals, and even fresh air! They’re super important because they help us live our lives every day. We use trees to make paper for our books, water to drink and grow food, and minerals to make things like cars and phones.

“But here’s the thing: these resources aren’t endless. That means we have to be careful about how we use them. And that’s where natural resource governance comes in.”

While pointing out that “if we don’t take care of our resources, they might disappear one day” the 6th grader told her peers that as “students and future leaders, we have a crucial role to play in advocating for and implementing better natural resource governance.”

On how children can play their role Oluwateniola said, “One way is by learning more about where things come from and how they’re made. Most importantly, is by speaking up and ask our leaders to make good decisions about our resources.”

Oluwateniola, her classmates and resources persons in  a group photo

She further used the opportunity to call the school management, her fellow schoolmates and indeed all Nigerian children as well as accountability actors to join her in the endeavour to make a tangible difference.

Executive Director of Extractive360, Juliet Ukanwosu, in a presentation titled ‘All About Natural Resources in Nigeria,’ took the children through the meaning of natural resources, types of natural resources and how countries benefit from natural resources. She also educated the children about energy transition, why the world is transitioning from use of fossil fuels and the role of transition minerals.

Speaking with journalists shortly after the event, Ukanwosu explained that Extractive360 threw its support behind the initiative because young people are crucial to achieving environmental sustainability.

“The amount of knowledge young people get today will determine how well they play their roles in protecting the environment, and ultimately the kind of adults and leaders they become,” Ukanwosu said.

Extractive360 is supporting this program because we believe in the need to catch them young, get them to be interested in the conversation, and imbibe in them the right values and knowledge with which they will continue to make the right demands and hold government accountable as they grow,” she added.

Also in her presentation titled ‘Natural Resource Governance: The role of children in deciding a career path,’ Executive Director of Centre for Transparency Advocacy, Faith Nwadishi, explained to the children the meaning of natural resource governance and its impact on all citizens.

Nwadishi further educated the children on how they can participate in resource governance. This she said can be done by learning and educating others, by practicing sustainability and advocating.

She stated that they can participate by joining school clubs or community groups, as well as by taking up career paths related to environmental sustainability.

In her remarks, Oluwateniola’s mother, Mrs Etareri Dekpe, expressed delight at her daughter’s ability to initiate such a laudable project to share her knowledge with her school mates, because of her love for the environment.

While praising her daughter as an passionate crusader for sustainable environment, Dekpe said, “Oluwateniola came up with the ideal to implement ‘The Head Girl Initiative’ with the theme Natural Resource Governance. And as her mother all I did was to provide the needed support for her to actualize her plans.”

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