By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
Sokoto state government has purchased and commenced the distribution of two million tree seedlings to the people of the state.
Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal stated this Wednesday while flagging-off the 2020 tree planting campaign at Sultan Abubakar III Jumu’at mosque, Sokoto.
According to the governor, the objectives of this is to sensitize the general public on the importance of planting trees in order to curb the rapid deterioration of the environment and also to check the scourge of drought, desertification and mitigate the effect of climate change.
Stressing the need to address these challenges aggressively, the governor said the challenge that is being faced today is that while trees are felled every hour, no commensurate efforts were made to replace them.
“We engaged in some unfriendly environment attitudes such as bush burning, proliferation of charcoal business, aggressive use of power saw machines to fall trees and total disregard to the forestry laws which are indeed of greats concern,” Tambuwal pointed out.
He added that, the theme of this year’s celebration ”Re-greening Sokoto state for economic empowerment,” was chosen in line with the state government deliberate policies of economic empowerment.
He reietrated the continuous implementation of the policy to ensure the sustenance of the plantations up to maturity by the local government areas.
The governor challenged farmers to take interest in the cultivation of tree crops such as mango, cashew, guava, date palm, gum arabic and other trees as measures to alleviate poverty and address the issues of unemployment as well as the establishment of private plantations for positive investment, rather than illegally destroying the forest reserve estate.
Tambuwal also directed state ministry of environment to assidously venture into and undertake a comprehensive study with a view to coming up with an alternative source of energy as well as prepare necessary recommendations on the way forward in order to reduce pressure on the diminishing forest estate.
In order to ensure smooth implementation of the approach, he said a number of seedlings will be distributed to some individiduals and organizations.
20 schools were also selected across the state where garden and orchards are to be established to inculcate the zeal and commitment to tree planting in the children to enable them to become gainfully employed after leaving school.
The governor appealed to the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar to request the traditional and religious leaders in the state to join hands with government in helping to protect the environment and most importantly forest reserve estate.
He also directed the ministry for local government to ensure that the 23 local government areas in the state adopt and implement the policy of the annual tree planting exercise.
Tambuwal also warned the general public to desist from illegal felling of trees, encroachment into forest reserve, unnecessary excavation of ditches to avoid land degradation and erosion.
The governor used the occassion to call on people to always pray and give cooperation to the government and security agents for the sustainance of peace in the eastern zone of the state as well as taking measures against COVID-19 disease.
In his remarks, Sultan Abubakar urged the government at all level to take measures against felling trees as well as providing modern stoves to the masses in order to address the challenges.
He commended the state government for its various developmental programmes and assured it of the Sultanate’s continued support and cooperation.
In his address the commissioner of Environment, Alhaji Sagir Attahiru Bafarawa said the reason for establishing gardens and orchards in the premises of mosques, schools, housing estates and individual houses is to serve as economic catalyst as well as fostering the preservation and conservation of the environment.
The commissioner highlighted some of the achievements recorded in his ministry which include purchase of 53 units of garbage tricycles, purchase of ten units of tippers for refuse evacuation, construction of five modern refuse bunkers, purchase of two units of wheel loaders among others.
During the ceremony two papers were presented on the importance of planting trees and its sustenance to maturity; and the importance of tree plantation from islamic point of view by Dr Ayuba Dan Asabe Umar of Usman Danfodiyo University and Malam Lawal Maidoki, the Chairman of the state Zakkat and Waqaf Commission, SOZECOM.