Oluwaseyi Ebenezer, a talented lawyer with specialisation in Environmental Law is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Triple G Eco Revival solutions, a leading environment organisation in Ekiti State. In this interview by ‘YOMI AYELESO, the gender advocate and treasurer of the Ado-Ekiti branch of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) speaks on the increase in gender-based violence, the need for more women in positions of authority, among other issues. Excerpts:
A prominent lawyer with specialisation in Environmental Law, what motivated you into advocacy, especially gender rights?
I am always a gender equality advocate. I think my passion for gender right developed from my experiences while growing up. I was the only girl among my siblings and that made me to be the call upon person when it comes to so many house chores. I remember asking my mummy severally why I had to be the one that would do all the cooking while my male siblings would be in the living room watching TV. I quite understood the fact that it was cultural and my parents didn’t see anything wrong in it but as for me, it was psychologically depressing and it made me feel the inequality between myself and my male siblings.
As much as we can’t separate culture from our way of lives, I believe some cultures are archaic and shouldn’t find their ways into our daily lives anymore.
As the founder and CEO of Triple G Eco Revival solutions, a leading environment organisation in Ekiti State, what is it about and what is the contribution of your organisation to the society?
Triple G Eco Revival Solutions is an environmental services organisation. Our mission is to help towards achieving an environmentally sustainable society. We believe that human being cannot achieve their full potentials in an unsustainable environment. We engage in environmental sensitisation and advocacy so as to change people’s attitudes towards their environment. One of the fundamental environmental problem we are facing in Ekiti state presently is the issue of plastic pollution. The plastic pollution is also one of the reasons we experience flooding in Ekiti state annually as these plastics block our waterways disruption of the easy flow of rain water.
Apart from environmental sensitisation and advocacy which is our way of giving back to our community, we also consult for several facilities/ organisation by periodically conducting their environmental audit and training of their employees so as to improve their environmental performance. This is way of measuring their performance against the requirements of the environmental management system standards and to explore the potential economic, social and environmental benefits that an improved performance can achieve.
Do you think government at all levels has done enough in terms of their policies relating to the environment?
No, the government is not doing enough in terms of policies. The importance of a sustainable environment or the importance of protecting nature is still very on the low side both on the part of the government and of the citizens. For instance, in Ekiti State, the laws and policies bordering on environment are so scattered that it makes it very difficult for easy and effective implementation of the policies. There are also instances where the laws are so archaic and thus not effective anymore. There is a great need for the government to harness the environmental laws and policies in the state so as to afford easy implementation.
The COVID-19 which is a global pandemic that is affecting both the economic and social development around the world can be said to be both public health issue and environmental issue. Therefore, government need to understand that weak environmental policies will only exacerbate our exposure to various epidemic and pandemic in the nearest future. With the alarming rate of deforestation and destruction of our natural habitat, conservationist and environmentalist all over the world are shouting at the top of our voices that climate change effect will be much worse than COVID-19 pandemic, if we don’t change our general way of life. We need to build back better after the COVID-19 pandemic. Policies and laws need to be green and eco friendly. Government should stop pushing environmental issues to the back of the table as public health issues and environmental issues are interrelated.
As a frontline gender advocate, are you not worried about the increasing cases of gender-based violence (GBV) in our society?
Yes, I am very worried and disturbed about the alarming rate of GBV in our society. It is very disheartening that the scale of GBV jumped up tremendously all over the world during the lock down. It showed practically that a lot more need to be done as it relates to attitudinal change of our people. For instance, Ekiti State has one of the best policies and law on GBV and one will think that the rate of GBV will be very low in the state but that is not the case. In fact, the rate at which incident of GBV is reported daily will almost discourage people like us that we are not doing anything. The truth is we have to continue to sensitise people and create awareness on the menace of GBV in our society.
Are there peculiar challenges being faced by female lawyers?
One of the major challenges female lawyers face is the mentality of most of the clients believing that the male counterpart will handle their matter better than the female. I think this can also be linked to gender issues and the type of mentality people have in our society. A mentality that male are better than female forgetting the fact that we both attended the same school and thus we went through the same orientation and we both pass the same examination ( call to bar exam) that made us become the lawyer that we are.
There have been calls for more women in positions of authority in the country but men are still dominating. What do you think should be done to change this narrative?
It is very sad that despite the fact that we make up of the 49% of the population, we are not always on the table when decisions that will affect this huge number of the total population are being made. How can they ever be properly represented when they are excluded from the decisions that will impact their lives? It is a good thing that Nigeria signed the United Nation 35% Affirmative action for gender inclusion, however, it is sad to say that Nigeria is still very low when it comes to the issue of women in positions of authority or women in politics. Even in our parliament, the number of female representation is very low. Men are still the one dominating every sphere of our lives. What I think can be done to change this narrative is that the government should take the 35% affirmative action on gender inclusion very serious. This will create an opportunity for women to attain and have a position on the decision table. Secondly, there should be more programmes on women empowerment and supports. Thirdly, more women should be encouraged to join politics as this is the only way you can effect real change by getting elected to serve your people. We should stop seeing politics as men thing. Nobody will hand us anything on a platter of gold, we need to get it by the proper means or channel and we can only get it if we prepare well. Lastly, women should continually support each other and develop themselves so that when they get to the table, they will be ready to shake the table and their voices will definitely be heard.
To further serve the people and effect the real change, do you have interest in contesting for elective position in the future?
I personally believe that we all should be interested in politics because that is the only way we can effect a change. In future, yes I am interested in elective position because that is one of the ways you can really serve your people and effect real change.
What is your advice to young ones especially the female ones who are aspiring to be like you?
My advice to female ones is to dream big. The fact that you are a female shouldn’t limit you. The fact that you are a female should be one of your motivating factors for greatness. Being a female is a wonderful thing and you should love yourself no matter the situation you are facing. Everyone is created into this world for a purpose, try as much as possible to find your purpose in life either you are a male or a female.
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