Professor Ajanaku proposes SDG Initiative, Others to address Waste Management Problems
Individuals, communities and government need to come to terms with waste management problems in Nigeria and solve it in line with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to have a sustainable environment.
This was part of the solutions proffered by Professor Kolawole Ajanaku on Friday, October 25, 2019, when he delivered the 21st Inaugural Lecture of Covenant University titled ‘Solid Waste Revolution: The Artificial Intelligence towards Smart, Sustainable and Safe Cities’.
Ajanaku, the first Professor of Industrial Chemistry at Covenant, described waste as any substance discarded after primary use, or was worthless, defective and of no use and could be seen as an act or instance of using or expending something carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose. He said that there were different types of wastes, which included municipal waste, construction and demolition waste, packaging waste, agricultural waste, industrial waste, and hazardous solid waste.
The inaugural lecturer, who noted that the management of waste in Nigeria had become one of the most pressing environmental issues and had made the country to be among the most significant waste generators in Africa, pointed out that the effect of huge waste generation was seen in almost every facet of the system with blockage of drainages thereby leading to flood, erosion, bad roads, holdups and accident, and high prices of commodity, because there were no good road channels to bring the items to the market place.
While acknowledging that the problem of waste disposal was not unique to Nigeria as many people were facing a serious solid waste disposal problem in many parts of the world, Professor Ajanaku stated that the problem manifested because people were producing too much waste, and there was too little acceptable space for permanent disposal. According to him, land used for landfills was minute compared to the land area in the settlement and rather, existing sites were being filled and it was difficult to site new landfills.
The inaugural lecturer expressed reservations about the believe in some quarters that a perfect system for waste disposal would be a technology capable of accepting unlimited amount of waste and safely containing it forever outside the sphere of human life. He said that this was an impossible dream and not environmentally comprehensive, as the preferred environmental concept with respect to waste management was to consider waste as resources out of place.
Professor Ajanaku said there was need to set up SDG index of measurement, which would promote healthy competition among states by evaluating the progress of implementation as it concerned the social, economic and environmental terms that would help Nigeria to achieve the SDGs by 2030.
Other solutions put forward by him were the need for the country to imbibe the 3Rs approach of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle wastes as a means of sustainable drive; the development of a composting plant with the possibility of a waste-to-energy process becoming operational as the biogas generated can be used to power electricity; the commencement of recycling processes for some selected waste materials with the focus of transforming them to valuable materials; and the need to have a selective, progressive plan for a smart waste collection process as the nation worked towards the attainment of a smart city amongst others.
In his remark at the event, the Vice-Chancellor, Covenant, Professor AAA. Atayero, while explaining the significance of inaugural lecture, stated that universities were renowned as citadels where solutions to societal problems emanated to help improve the quality of life, and to disseminate development-oriented knowledge from research findings in the universities.
On the theme of Covenant’s 21st inaugural lecture, Professor Atayero said that with the increase in population density and the high spate of rural migration to cities, urbanization was assuming intense proportions and presented a tremendous urban problem related to waste generation.
According to him, the current waste management systems were unable to efficiently deal with the tons of waste that were generated daily. “The Internet of Things and cloud computing offer an automation possibility through cyberphysical systems that will change the way solid waste management is performed,” he noted.
The well attended lecture featured other members of the Covenant University Management including the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Akan Williams and the Registrar, Dr. Oluwasegun Omidiora amongst others. Also present were members of the Covenant Senate, faculty, staff and students, academics from different institutions, family members of the inaugural lecturer and other distinguished guests.
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