BIRNIN KEBBI – The Minister of Environment, Mrs Laurentia Mallam, has called on Nigerians, especially residents of desertification prone-areas, to plant trees to protect the environment from degradation.
Mallam gave the advice in an interview with newsmen in Birnin Kebbi at the end of her visit to Zamfara and Kebbi to sensitise the public to the importance of the Great Green Wall project.
She said the Federal Government was ready to support state governments, organisations and individuals on tree planting.
The minister also called on Nigerians to cooperate with the Federal Government on its efforts at protecting the environment, saying that it was a collective responsibility of everybody.
“If environment conducive for living is not there, farming will be affected, livestock will be affected and human lives will be affected as well.
“You see what happened in Zamfara, a village that has no tree was destroyed by windstorm few days ago and you can see their willingness to protect their environment.
“You see how they have started planting trees and we support them to plant more trees; we must protect the environment so that we can leave healthier and cleaner,’’ she said.
Mallam said that the ministry would inaugurate the project in Kebbi soon as part of the afforestation initiative to combat desertification in the state.
“Mr President has earmarked quite a lot of money for this project, the state governments are expected to put in certain percentage.
“The communities too have their own role to play in raising the seedlings, planting the seedlings, nurturing and ensuring that the project succeeds.
“ So, Mr President is willing to come into the states to alleviate the suffering of the people through this great project,’’ she said.
The minister said that the Federal Government had received massive support from the states to implement the project, adding that the people were also happy with the development.
Mallam listed the states implementing the project to include Kebbi, Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi State, Gombe State, Jigawa, Kano State, Katsina State, Zamfara, Sokoto State and Yobe.
She said that the project was designed to alleviate the suffering of the people living in those states in addition to addressing desertification.
Similarly, Dr Bukhar Hassan, Director of Drought, Desertification and Amelioration Department, Federal Ministry of Environment, expressed optimism that the project would address poverty in the frontline states.
Hassan said the project had a total of 12 million hectares of land covering 15 kilometre wide from Kebbi to Borno.
“We have been talking with the European Union for over a year and EU has agreed to support the project in Katsina State.
The Great Green Wall project is a project developed by African Union to address social, economic and environmental impact of land degradation and desertification in the Sahel and Sahara zones.
The project is mobilising 11 countries, including Nigeria to construct “a wall of trees’’ stretching 4,300 miles long and nine miles wide across the continent, from the Republic of Djibouti to Senegal.
The countries are Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sudan and Chad. (NAN)