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Black Weekend in Nigeria blighted World Environment Day Celebration

4:30 p.m. ……Breaking News…………A DANA Airline plane has crashed into a built up area in Lagos killing all passengers on board………apprehension got a better part of me as I left what I was attending to and sat right in front of the TV. I recalled that my younger brother had informed me two days earlier that he would be traveling to Lagos from Abuja on an official assignment. God please, let him still be in Abuja. God, I pray he didn’t board that flight. As I muttered these words of prayers, I picked up my phone and dialed his number. Thank God it is ringing………. Please just pick up the phone. I tried several times but no response. I became all the more jittery as I tried to call his friend’s number who I felt should know his where about since they both lived together. No response either. What do I do now? The last thing I’d want to do is call any family member, as I didn’t want to put them in the state I was already in. I then decided to call his fiance's mum who lived in Lagos. This time around I was lucky as she picked up her phone. Of course, I had to suppress the anxiety in my voice as I exchanged pleasantries with her. That seemed like forever and I had to abruptly cut off the greetings by asking her if she was aware of the air plane accident that just happened in Lagos. No, where? She asked. I am not too sure yet. I’ll find out and then get back to you.

Good his (a friend’s husband) number is ringing. How are you and your wife? Please did you hear about the plane crash in Lagos? He responded in the affirmative as he told me he had received a call from a close friend of his, who lived in the neighborhood where the plane had crashed. I thanked him and hung up. One after the other, I began calling people I knew in Abuja. I am just checking on you. Thank you, I am fine. No, I didn’t travel. No I didn’t board that plane. Thanks for calling, I am at school. A friend also just called to inquire about my safety, I am fine. Are you talking about the Nigerian cargo plane that overshot the runway while landing at Ghana Airport yesterday? I have heard the news, it is really sad. These were some of the many responses I got from some of the people I was able to reach. Thank God, my brother finally picked his phone…..Where are you? I have been calling your number. Sorry, I was asleep at the time you called. What about your friend? He is sleeping. A plane has crashed in Lagos, killing everyone on board. I got really worried because you had told me you would be traveling. Thank God, you are okay. Regards to your friend, I will call you later. As I hung up, I imagined the number of people I had called within such a short space of time; and I knew definitely that many others within and outside Nigeria would have done likewise.

Prior to the plane crash, I had been following the events in Syria, both in the dailies, news channels and YouTube. Available information and video coverage, particularly that of the Houla massacre really got me bothered and wondering about what the world could actually do to end the bloodletting that had become the lot of Syria. Little did I know that another dimension of disaster was lurking in my very dear own country…..Nigeria. The 2nd and 3rd days of June remain a very bloody weekend in the history of Nigeria. These two days, have been one of laments, pains, tears and mourning for many Nigerians, especially over the victims of the church bombing in Bauchi State, bloody tribal war in Nassarawa State and the Dana Airline Plane crash in Lagos. Virtually every Nigerian was affected in one way or the other, as loved ones were lost in the different incidents. It is unthinkable that 9 members of one family died in the ill fated air crash. The hurts must be excruciating for the immediate families of those who lost their lives! Like many Nigerians, my heart remains heavy and troubled. Personally, I knew one of the victims of the DANA plane crash and I am yet to come terms with the reality of his death. Though a three day national mourning, which has since ended, was declared, the stories that have continued to emerge, especially on the DANA Crash surely keeps the anguish fresh! Typically, many scheduled programs had to be cancelled, rescheduled or postponed indefinitely. Of course, June 5th, the World Environment Day (WED) which was usually action-packed in Nigeria, lost attention and attraction. The theme of this year’s WED is “Green Economy: Does it include you?”

A green economy is a veritable tool for tackling the tripartite problems of poverty, global warming and climate change. It is all about sustainable practices and consumption of energy and women are at the heart of this question; because for many a woman, a green economy means switching to or choosing climate friendly technologies, practices as well as behaviors for example:
• Improved, cheaper, cleaner , healthier and more efficient cooking alternatives to fuel wood, charcoal, and kerosene
• off-grid lighting alternatives that can considerably offer more value for money
• secured and or alternative livelihoods
• protecting natural resources (land, water, air, forests and wildlife)
• increased participation in sustainable agriculture production and food security
• Social justice

Many successfully implemented projects and programs as well as initiatives project the importance of strengthening the role of women, increasing their representation, access to information as well as visibility at local and international levels. Not a few of those women who have benefited from such opportunities have made a difference in their communities. Empowering and protecting the rights of women is no doubt the fastest means of achieving a green economy, especially because women have a part in and the means of addressing scores of problems associated with environmental sustainability. When empowered, women are better positioned to reverse the many issues of poverty and environmental challenges that affects their lives, and in the process, make tangible contributions to development. Their creativity and commitment to courses that touch on their lives, family and community can be capitalized upon as a viable way of achieving a green economy. This year’s WED theme is a global call to environmental citizenship and stewardship. Let’s make it personal, getting involved in the drive for a green economy!

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