A group of environmentalists operating under the aegis of “WE THE PEOPLE” has charged the Cross River State governor-elect Senator Bassey Edet Otu not to hesitate to fix the escalating threat of deforestation once Inaugurated into office as state chief executive.
The group stated that the tropical rainforest which at a moment remàins the only dependable economic assets after the ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon and loss of the oil wells to Akwa Ibom State is now threatened by illegal logging activities.
The group gave the charge while reading an open letter before journalists to the governor-elect, Senator Bassey Edet Otu, Thursday in Calabar.
In an Open letter endorsed by the Executive Director of ‘WE THE PEOPLE’, Centre for Social Studies and Development, Mr. Ken Henshaw, Dr. Clement Ebin and Dr. Odigha Odigha and four others called for proactive measures by the Otu’s administration to tackle activities of timber loggers in the state.
While lauding the governor-elect in his forthcoming inauguration into office scheduled for May 29, 2023,as the state governor, “WE THE PEOPLE informed Otu of facing enormous challenges especially in the ecological space of the state.
“Ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon and the corresponding loss of the oil wells revenues, the rainforest had remained the only dependable economic asset.
“It said the rainforest which was the only dependable economic asset after the ceding of Bakassi to Cameroon and loss of the oil wells to Akwa Ibom State is now threatened by illegal logging activities.
“The illicit trade in timber has exacerbated insecurity in Cross River State.
“To facilitate the theft of forest resources, the state has seen the emergence of an armed cartel of ‘Crossets’ who take responsibility for arranging consignment of timber from the forest, and conveying them to designated destinations outside the state.
“Their rank consists of things and militants armed with illegal firearms, deployed to intimidate, terrorize maim, forest protection agents and community vigilante groups that they perceive as threats to their operations.”
The environmentalists expressed confidence in the governor-elect that he has the capacity to put an end to the ongoing deforestation in the state.
“As responsible civil society organizations and experts in forest management, we are confident that under your leadership and given the political will, the escalating threat of deforestation as well as the gaps and challenges associated with existing government responses can be fixed.
“As you assume office on May, 29, 2023, and deliver your inaugural address the people of Cross River State, it will be a great opportunity to read the ‘riot act’ to those destroying the forests, and clearly state your preference for preserving the Cross River Forests.” WE THE PEOPLE urged the governor-elect.
The group pledged to remain committed to exploring and developing alternative frameworks and policy options for addressing deforestation and producing a draft policy alternative.
They maintained that the group is willing to work as a collective organisation with the incoming administration in combating what it described as enormous ecological and economic sabotage against the state.