CHUKS OYEMA-AZIKEN writes that the Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni has shown commitment to tackling various environmental challenges in the state, hence launch of climate change action plan.
President Muhammadu Buhari at the 71st General Assembly of United Nations in New York in 2016 signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change to become the 146th nation to do so.
Buhari said that signing the Agreement has demonstrated Nigeria’s commitment to a global effort to reverse the effects of the negative trend.
The agreement commits Nigeria to reducing “Green House Gas Emissions unconditionally by 20 per cent and conditionally by 45 per cent” in line with Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions.”
With the agreement in place, various levels of government in Nigeria are making conscious effort in this direction.
Recently, Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni launched Climate Change Action Plan, seen by stakeholders as deliberate effort to tackling the environmental challenges confronting the state.
Yobe is one of the northern states adversely affected by desertification.
And some have continued to link desertification to the security crisis in the North-East with Yobe sharing in it.
The insurgency has led to migration out of the area and also led to downtown in the economy.
A study in 2007 said that the area is facing a showed livestock pressure, climatic factors and population pressure as the chief cause of desertification.
It concurred that desertification is resultant of overgrazing, trampling on the soil which reduces pore space,
scanty rainfall and high solar radiation that accelerates evapotranspiration. These have been aggravated by increased human activities such as clear cutting, farming, ranching and urbanization (Julie, Kerr Casper 2007).
Yobe is rated among the states in the country with high deforestation rate in the world where from 1990 – 2010, 50 per cent of tree cover were felled.
The Buni administration is not unaware of the situation on ground.
Hence the launch of the 2020 Tree Planting Campaign and the Climate Change Action Plan for Yobe at the Dusuwa Forest Reserve, is a step in the right direction.
The governor at the event, said that the initiative is to “protect our state from the negative impacts of climate change”.
According to him “In Kanuri language, a tree is called MAINA, which means prince should not be cut down because no body would want to cut a prince.
“Planting trees should be everyone’s responsibility because the effect of climate change affects everyone.
“This situation, if allowed to continue, will not augur well for our state in particular and the nation at large,” he said.
Further he said “our forefathers bequeathed to us a good and sound environment with thick vegetation cover, but over the years, we depleted the environment through illegal felling of trees thereby degrading it to its present situation where there is prevalence of flood, desertification, wild windstorm, low density rainfall, low agricultural yields etc.
“In order to address this situation, this administration evolves some sound measures, which ultimately creates awareness, participation, and involvement of all Yobeans to own the programme.
“Consequently, the state government raised three million assorted tree seedlings through the Ministry of Environment for this planting season.
The governor directed that illegal felling of living trees in Yobe State will attract prosecution.
He said: “Henceforth all our gazetted forest reserves are sacrosanct. No official be it from the local government or the emirate councils are allowed to allocate, sell, or lease any portion of these reserves.”
He declared every July 29 a work-free day for tree planting in the state with effect from the year 2021.
“As from 2021, 10 million assorted tree seedlings will be raised each year up to 2024 where a target of 40 million assorted seedlings will be raised planted and nurtured,” he stated
The programme under the auspecics of the Ministry of Environment aim to turn the vast swathe of the desert-prone part of the state, comprising some eight of the 17 local government areas of the state, into a green environment by planting over three million trees across the 17 local government areas in the first instance. The goal is to have 20 million trees over four years.
For the State’s Commissioner for Environment, Sidi Yakubu Karasuwa, who is saddled with the implementation of the laudable Initiative, the government is determined to ensure their success.
This has led to appointment of members of the State Executive Council, members of the National Assembly from the state, members of the state House of Assembly, Special Advisers and Senior Special Assistants to the governor, heads of agencies, parastatals and extra ministerial departments, traditional rulers and directors of personnel managing the 17 local government councils as Ambassadors.
The commissioner said that 50 youth ambassadors in each of the 17 local government areas who will spread the Governor Buni Climate Change Action Plan across the state were also nominated.
The youths are expected to ensure the success of the initiative and become beneficiaries and owners of the project for its sustainability for the long haul.
The commissioner said “Governor Buni Climate Change Action Plan for Schools proposes the introduction of environmental issues in school curriculum at the central level. Another important component of this campaign is the role our traditional rulers, local government councils, tertiary institutions, and the basic and secondary schools will play particularly, in the area of planting and nurturing of the seedlings.
“The ministry also proposes competition among schools on tree planting and nurturing and aim to ensure that the governor personally presents an award to the best schools in environmental effort.
According to Karasuwa, Damaturu Central Nursery is to produce 800,000 seedlings; Bayamari Central Nursery, 400,000; Gaidam Central Nursery, 600,000; Gashu’a Central Nursery, 600,000; and Nguru Central Nursery, 600,000 seedlings.
On distribution and planting, the state government plans to plant 100 hectares of Gum Arabic and other assorted trees in each of the three senatorial districts while five selected primary schools in each of the seventeen local government areas are to establish one hectare plantation/orchard.
Ten selected secondary schools under Teaching Services Board will establish one hectare plantation each, another five selected secondary schools under Science and Technical Education Board are to establish one hectare plantation each; even thousand assorted seedlings are to be provided to the 14 Emirate councils, 10 higher institutions in the state are to be given 100,000 assorted seedlings for school plantation and premises planting.
Other plans include Trans-Sahara road 40km roadside plantation, 200,000; afforestation project (for establishment of road side plantation along Gujba road and other types of planting), 200,000; NEAZDP (for planting and distribution to their contact farmers), 200,000; general public for household and street planting, 1,000,000; other interested agro forestry farmers, 72,000.
Karasuwa said in order to actualise this project, the ministry proposed the rehabilitation of the state’s dormant nurseries at Potiskum, Damagum, Yusufari Garanda and Warsala.
He said the governor had similarly approved the re-survey and re-demarcation of the Dusuwa Forest Reserve.
“We intend to include in our 2021 budget proposal, the demarcation and re-survey of at least two more forest reserves. The demarcation of our forest reserves will continue annually and run concurrently with the lifespan of the Governor Buni Climate Change Action Plan for Yobe State”, he said.
The commissioner enjoined the state’s international partners, NGOs, CSOs and all the people of the state to support and participate in the governor’s drive to restore the state’s forests through the Governor Buni Climate Change Action Plan “for we firmly believe that by the year 2024, a total of 323, 748, 51 hectares will be planted with the strategy put in place for the protection and management of these trees.”