Judex Okoro, Calabar
The fight against global warming is gathering momentum in Cross River as government inaugurated tree-planting campaigns in 100 communities. For effective campaigns, the government is partnering with church leaders, residents and indigenes to mitigate the impact of global warming by planting one million trees this year.
The project, Green Carnival, was initiated during the Carnival Calabar two years ago to take advantage of people who come to drive home the message on the importance of planting trees to mitigate climate change.
Governor Ben Ayade said it is intended to draw attention of all stakeholders particularly those resident in the state to the dangers associated with global warming. He promised that trees would be planted in over 100 forest communities:
“The one million trees are aimed at helping mitigate the effect of climate change and also replace the 28,000 trees that will be felled in the course of constructing the state’s superhighway which will serve as an evacuation corridor for the on-going Bakassi Deep Seaport Project.
“Today we are doing a green carnival and planting one million trees and this number of trees over a period of time will mitigate what is going wrong and will reverse the situation. With this, Cross River State will become a carbon dioxide sink, the headquarters of carbon dioxide emission into the atmosphere.
“We must state clearly that Cross River State has 58 per cent of the entire carbon dioxide cover of Nigeria. With the plan on hand, there are strategies to increase this to 68 per cent. With this we can go to the international community and ask for the green bond and go to the Federal Government and ask; for all the support you have gotten, what have you done for the state?
“We are going to use this project to counter balance the moral argument that will be put up by environmentalists against the proposed super highway. This year the budget for the green carnival is N100 million and for next year it will be N500 million.
“For those who want to make money from it should start raising their nursery today so that we can come to you and buy. Most of the trees we are planting today came from Abia and Benue states, so young Cross Riverians have a great opportunity to do business.”
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State said what the state is doing is futuristic and not just for the benefit of the state but for humanity. He said the huge number of trees being planted by the government will put the state and the country on the world map and added that the country should be marketed on the prism of cross river state:
“Always feel proud to come to Cross River State. Each time I come here, I always have something new to learn. Today’s event is another futuristic one like no other one in the history of the country. Nigeria, as a country, should be marketed from the prism of Cross River.”
National Publicity Secretary, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and General Overseer, Christian Central Chapel International (CCCI), Bishop Emmah Gospel Isong, said the Church in the state has decided to partner with the government in view of the spiritual implications embedded in the exercise.
He said hundreds of pastors came out to assist the governor in the exercise because planting a tree has huge blessings for the people: “Psalm 1:3 says that we are like a tree planted which shows that the first thing God did was to plant a tree in the Garden of Eden. You see that planting a tree is spiritual, more spiritual than it is economical.
“So, it is the pastors that should be at the vanguard of this event. That is why you can see about 100 pastors with the T-shirt; ‘Like a tree planted’, because it is a very spiritual ceremony, not political and economic. Man and tree are related.
“The trees give out oxygen which you take. Man gives out carbon dioxide, which the trees take and today it is converted to carbon credit. First of all the spiritual aspect, the geographical aspect, environmental and then economical so we are going to that by the grace of God.”
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, Agbang Okwaji, said:
“Cross River State is nature’s gift to Nigeria because it holds the remaining 50 per cent of the remaining forest reserves in Nigeria. Besides, we have over 24 bio-diversity hotspots in the world.
“We have mangrove that stretches longer than any other state in Nigeria. We are the most biologically diverse state in Nigeria. “We have fauna and flora species that outnumber those of any other state in Nigeria.
“In future, nature’s blessings to us will become the source of our income and I see a future where the state will earn green bonds courtesy of its resources. We foresee the state becoming a very big refinery where we convert carbon using our trees through the simple process of photosynthesis to deliver oxygen to the atmosphere to stabilise the global ec0-system. The oxygen that will be produced in Cross River State will come to the rescue of the international community.
“For the first time in the state, we have a forest policy that has been prepared, subjected to stakeholder’s validation and very soon a clean copy will be forwarded to the state executive council for ratification.
“We have found in the last 10 years is the moratorium that has been placed on logging. The policy has financially castrated the state government and has caused disconnect between the host communities and the government who were before now getting royalty but are not getting same again.”
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Orientation, Dr Aye Henshaw, called on community leaders and residents of Palm Street, Calabar South, to take ownership of the tree-planting initiative and make the nurturing of the newly planted trees in their neighbourhood a priority: “The trees will provide cleaner and fresher air to the neighbourhood, create a canopy and beautify the streets.”
A community leader, Chief Inameti Oyo Ita, said the people of Palm Street totally supported the tree-planting initiative will do their best to see that those trees thrive. Another resident, Mrs Patricia Inok, said the initiative to plant one million trees to contribute and make for an environmentally friendly state is a noble one worthy of emulation.