Last Monday morning, Mr Gideon Ejiohuo casually strolled into the premises of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation in Port Harcourt, clutching a black little bag containing some documents. He was equally casually dressed and hardly convinced anybody that he is the Managing Director of an environmental and safety engineering company, Gideotech Engineering Servicing Nigeria Limited, located in Sangana Street, Port Harcourt and with headquarters in far away United Kingdom. Not until you sit down with Mr Gideon Ejiohuo, a graduate of Chemical Engineering from the Rivers State University of Science and Technology who equally holds an MBA Degree in Environmental Management would you be convinced that he is loaded to the hilt with elaborate ideas concerning the Environment and Waste Management.
Mr Gideon Ejiohuo did not come to the newspaper house for the fun of it, he was hardly on a leisure trip, for he had something up his sleeves to offer to society, and to everybody who loves a pollution-free environment. You may not believe it, but this young man who hails from Ndele community in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State claims to have a lasting solution to the problems of waste management in Rivers State in particular and the rest of the country.
However, he is not keen on providing this solution free of charge. He wants the Rivers State Government, for the first time to show that it appreciates and values knowledge and those he describes as technocrats, those like him who have been neglected over the years, those capable of turning around societal problems, economically, socially and other wise for good. Mr Gideon Ejiohuo’s stakes seem to be on the high side because he is demanding a whooping sum of one million dollars ($I million) from the government as consultancy fee before he could disclose the so-called formula for tackling the problems associated with waste management head on in the state. This formula which he equally sees as the final bus stop for waste management in the state would in the long run turn wastes into assets in the state.
For now, the waste management formula, according to him, is a classified information until the government meets the demand of $1 million. Mr Ejiohuo who bared his mind on this issue and many more in this encounter with The Tide On Sunday said the formula is a business model that would employ over 100,000 Rivers people every year. His words: “The final bus stop in waste management is that we are going to make waste valuable in the eyes of the masses, whereby you and I will no longer see ourselves throwing refuse in the streets.
Infact, it will be a wasteful venture on the part of an individual to embark on that. There will be a lot of challenges on this scheme in the sense that we need enlightenment. We need TV adverts. There will be a lot of training of our youths on waste management. There are computer hardwares we will equally introduce. The banking sector will also be part of it. It is not a business for the commoners. It is not a business for the roadsiders. Our company is bringing a refinery worth N10 billion, and I am challenging Rivers people to come and key into this industry because waste engine oil constitutes one of the hazards. And it is one of the materials that penetrate or leak into the under ground water. It is considered as one of the hazardous wastes because of the addictive or consequence of the base oil.
This thing has caused cancer and authorities have found it to be true. As an indigene of this state and a Nigerian who cares for the masses, I, therefore, can not continue to watch the improper management of wastes.
These wastes are supposed to be acted upon. We call the wastes assets because we are aware of their value. We know how to re-cycle them. But we need the support of the government in form of grants. Give us this money, in two to three years, we are going to pay back and employ not less than 10,000 Rivers people.
“When he was asked if the $1 million he was requesting from the government for consultancy was not too much, he replied: “What do you call too much. For a man to solve a millennium problem in Geneva, he was given one million US dollars. Just to solve a mathematical model, a 40 year-old man was given one million dollars. So, can’t we appreciate knowledge which is a source of power and wealth? People are not finding their potentials because our society does not appreciate good things in terms of knowledge.
The money is not too much because we are introducing training programmes. We are going to train our youths on waste management. The government will only buy the hardware which it is asked to buy, and you will see the business working. It is a business for everybody”.
When he was requested to reveal the waste management formula, Mr Gideon Ejioho refused in these words: “No, I will not let you know it because it is a classified information. I have one million jobs for Rivers people for a start.I am challenging Governor Amaechi. His government is a good government and that is why I have taken time to package this thing.” On how he came about what he described as the lasting solution to the problems of waste management in the state, he had this to say: “Gideotech Engineering is a company constituted of a Think Tank, people who don’t sleep. They think over how to solve the problems of society. We don’t ride jeeps and live big. What we do is to think how we can be relevant to a society that is suffering form a lot of problems because technocrats are not recognised and settled. That is why ideas are buried. And until technocrats are paid for their services, then, that is when you see people coming on board to contribute their quota to the growth of our society. There are better brains in the continent of Africa that can solve the problems of Nigeria, both economically socially and otherwise.But these people are neglected because if you are not classified as a politician or a big time successful businessman, no matter how you made your money, you will not be recognised.
But in the research and development world, we make less noise because we believe in challenging our ideas. And that is why I am telling the state government that our consultancy is one million US dollars ($I million). Go and call all the professors you know in the world. We want to sit down and tell them that this idea has no existence anywhere in the world. And we are considering it on the concept that we want to introduce what is called Material/Asset Recovery/Conservation and Security”.
According to him, the government was capable of also making money through the model. Hear him: “That is another way government can make money. Government can raise enormous revenue through this. All these things they are impounding people’s cars always on the road, and everybody is busy in the name of sanitation workers, we are wasting our time. Simple policies can address this problem. It doesn’t need much grammar. You don’t need to blow a man. Just let a man know where he should be heading to, he will follow you. Human beings understand situations. The question is: why would pure water sachet constitute a problem in our society?”
The environmentalist who disclosed that he had never worked for any company or government since he graduated from the university in 1995 explained that people see wastes as wastes because of ignorance. His words: “When you call something a waste, it is because you are ignorant of the value of that thing you are calling a waste.
He further insisted that his model if given a trial by the state government would tackle head on the problems of waste management in Port Harcourt in particular.
“Yes, if the government buys our idea, the wastes in Port Harcourt will be a thing of the past. Everybody will be scrambling over what we call waste. Even children will be struggling to get from their parents those things we see as wastes. There is what is known as monetary value equivalent of your waste. In other words, all your wastes are quantified in monetary terms”, he declared.
To buttress his points that the government needs to act fast to address the waste management problems of the society, the chemical engineer-cum-environmentalist further gave some useful tips concerning the people’s health in respect of the environment in these words: “We don’t have landfills. What we have are burrow pits. And we are aware that deposition of certain wastes which I classified as hazardous wastes are quite inimical to human health because the American Society of Environmental Agency Acknowledged in 1990 that every other low land or what we all call burrow pits should be closed. But in our own mentality as people, we just see environmental practice as a fulfillment of the disposal of wastes.
We are however, looking at it from the chemistry point of view and see how we can carry out a remediation. The situation calls for urgency. Infact, the government should be able to realise that human life is dependent on the water the people drink, the food they eat, the environment where they live, the air they breathe and what have you.”