Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has urged the Federal Government to put adequate measures in place to fight against illegal poaching and felling in a bid to protect forests in Nigeria and their abundant resources.
He gave the advice in his address in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, at the 42nd annual conference of Forest Association of Nigeria (FAN), which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the association.
Obasanjo, who was represented by Deacon Sunday Agusa, stated that certain plant species in the forests have become endangered and pragmatic steps must be taken to ensure that they did not go into extinction.
His words: “We must ensure that we do not, arising from our negligence lose our endangered species. We must begin to harness, document and advance the innumerable benefits of our forests in solving contemporary health issues.
“We must begin to look at and devise means of protecting our forests from those who are concerned about today without iota of consideration for the resultant effects of their actions and inaction.”
Minister of Environment, Dr. Muhammed Abubakar, who was represented on the occasion, said the Federal Government has commenced policy review towards effective governance and management of forests and its resources. He also spoke against over exploitation of forest and forest resources with a view to averting future pandemic. He advocated holistic approach to protecting forest and forest resources
Former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof Julius Okojie, who presented a keynote address on the occasion, emphasised the need for the government to arrest the ongoing spate of deforestation in the country. He warned that if proactive steps are not taken, the negative effects of global warming and climate change would be inevitable.
He noted that the newly approved National Forest Policy 2018 is capable of addressing most of the challenges confronting growth and development of the sector. He also identified inadequate policy and measures, weak law enforcement, and lack of transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s forest reserves administration.
The Nigeria’s forest, he said, has been degraded and that the sources of economic trees that have been producing timber, veneer log, fuel wood “or the medicinal plants have been over exploited and degraded with some of the species under the threat of becoming extinct.”
National President of FAN, Alhaji Ahmad Ibrahim, stated that the association would continue to work and engage relevant stakeholders towards engendering reforestation and stop unsustainable degradation of Forest and forest resources.
The Chairman, National Organising Committee, 42nd conference of FAN, Prof Nureni Adewole, also said: “Nigeria’s forest enclaves and her resources in Nigeria is suffering untold abuses in relation to utilization purposes, exploitation, management and monitoring.”