By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah
Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki is seeking the intervention of the presidency on the activities of illegal loggers in Edo forests .
He stated this to State House correspondents after meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari at the Presidential Villa .
He said the activities of illegal loggers was affecting the wildlife in his state .
He said “I actually came to rub minds with the Chief of Staff. We’ve been having challenges with, not just only bandits in our forests, but illegal loggers. It’s been an invasion of our forests, with armed loggers coming in to indiscriminately cut logs from our forests.
I’m sure you would have seen this news about the Okomu National Park, it’s one of the last pristine rain forests we have left and the amount of logging by armed loggers in the last couple of months have been really troubling.
“They are also affecting the wildlife, you know that reserve hosts some very rare species of animals and with this avalanche of loggers.
“We are losing them and it’s something of concern so I’ve come to rub minds with the Chief of Staff to see how the federal government can assist with the National Parks Guards, with our local guards and see if the military can give them backup.
He also disclosed that he got a positive response from the presidency on his request.
Obaseki also clarified that his state will commercialize ranching being proposed by the Nigeria Governors Forum as a panacea to the incessant farmers and herders clashes .
He said “I said a state government is not in the business of ranching or of providing grazing lands, however there are communities that have lands, which have, as at today, accommodated herders under some arrangements.
“What I suggested was that these communities should look at making lands available where when herdsmen come in, they can grow grass and charge them to herd in specific areas and avoid getting the herdsmen to trespass into other people’s farm lands because that is what causes crisis.
“These are all commercial transactions between either individuals, communities and pastoralists. That is the point we made, that herding cattle is a business and it’s not the state’s responsibility to get into that business.
Asked if the pastoralists should go into business with individuals , he said “They actually do it now because what we found is that in most communities, when the pastoralists come in they usually have an arrangement or an agreement with community leaders before they can graze in those communities.
That is what exists today, but in some cases that arrangement breaks down when some very young herders are not able to control their cows and they stray into other people’s farmlands.
“That is the situation in many communities today and we are saying why not formalise it properly by designating areas with water and grass so that when they come, you’ll ask them to go into those areas, charge them whatever you need to charge them, by that we’ll restrict them there so that they will not go and trespass into other people’s farmlands and eat up their crops.
“I think it is a reasonable thing to do and these are relationships that have spanned hundreds of years, so we can’t wake up today and say all of you go away, we don’t want you. How are you going to get the protein?