BY ADEBAYO WAHEED, Ibadan
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday tasked Nigerian governments to fight against illegal and indiscriminate felling of trees and poaching to protect Nigeria forests and its abundant resources.
The former president who stated this at the 42nd annual conference of Forest Association of Nigeria (FAN) which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the association, urged governments to fight against destruction of forest.
According to the former president who was represented by Deacon Sunday Agusa, “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”.
In his keynote, former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC) Professor Julius Okojie tasked Nigerian governments to arrest the ongoing spate of deforestation ongoing in the country to avert negative effects of global warming and climate change.
Okojie who noted that it is increasingly becoming difficult to check forest encroachment in Nigeria stated that Forest protection agencies should be equipped with the necessary tools to fight encroachments in the forest estates.
He added that strategies for protecting the forest against encroachment should involve holistic approach that will incorporate social and energy security of the people.
Okojie further identified inadequate policy and measures, weak law enforcement, and lack of transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s forest reserves administration as the reasons for the pitfalls in the sector , noting that the newly approved National Forest Policy 2018 is capable of addressing most of the challenges confronting growth and development.
According to him, Nigeria’s forest is degraded adding that the sources of economic trees that “produce 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”.
Earlier, Minister of Environment, Dr Muhammed Mahmoud Abubakar warned against over exploitation of forest and forest resources to avert future pandemic.
The Minister called for holistic approach to protect forest and forest resources.
He hinted that the federal government was reviewing policy towards the effective government and management of forests and its resources.
In his welcome address, National President of FAN, Alhaji Ahmad Rufai Ibrahim stated that the association will continue to work and engage relevant stakeholders towards engendering reforestation and stop unsustainable degradation of Forest and forest resources.