By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
As part of its conservation drive aimed at reducing emissions, Cross River State government, has apprehended illegal loggers as well as the seizure of large quantity of organic hardwood extracted from its forests.
Briefing newsmen at the CROWEI site of the confiscated woods, opposite Governor’s office, Calabar, Governor, Ben Ayade, maintained that “if Cross River reduces its guard over her forests, Nigerians will be in for real trouble”.
According to Ayade, “over time, there has been massive deforestation of Cross River which holds over 58 per cent of the entire forest cover of Nigeria. The risk, if Cross River compromises her forest reserve is that, climate change will be accelerated and the consequences will be very total to Nigeria”.
He reminded the citizenry of the permanent ban on deforestation in the state as part of Cross River conservation drive, taking its original basis of Red+ programme which, according to the governor, is the only way of reducing emissions while ensuring that carbon dioxide distribution remains at its peak.
Ayade who read the riot act to perpetrators of the crime explained that “the sun we are experiencing in the rainy month is because of these tree felling, that is why Calabar is getting very hot. We are almost 15 kms away from the Atlantic ocean, yet the weather is so hot. We are loosing the real beauty, the green and the lounge that is characterise Cross River”.
The governor further directed: “I want the truck that carried these woods, though in the police station, I want it brought to Calabar and auctioned, I want the owner of the truck arrested, we must trace the driver and all those who sponsored these illegal logging. This is not the end until the culprits are apprehended and made to face the full wrath of the law”.
To appointees who connive with illegal loggers to deforest the state, the governor warned them to desist henceforth as government was already aware of their antics and activities and would not let them go unpunished.
He said, “I bought vehicles for officers of government to police the road but some of our own appointees have turned to wood traders. When these people were accosted, you will not believe that some of the agents of government were calling on behalf of the illegal loggers. We know those who have entered into a conspiracy with the illegal wood loggers and deny our people the luxury of the conservation efforts, the governor remarked”.
Ayade who commended and announced monetary incentives to those who arrested the culprits said: “This is a mark of appreciation to show to the world that we still have decent, young and honest Cross Riverians who will do the right thing. I applaud your gallantry and honesty as you refused to collect money, subjected yourselves to threats and keeping late hours of the night to apprehend these people”.
The governor stressed the need for federal government to support the protection of the National Park and the Cross River forest, intimating that it was imperative “to recognise the sensitive roles and conservation efforts that gives Nigeria the 58 percent cover which makes Cross River a part of those who are in the value chain for the discussion of global climate change issues.
“Cross River lost its oil wells, natural resources, land, 13 percent derivation, low in federal allocation, became poor and reduced to want in body, spirit and soul, yet ripping off her forest, dislocating our parents from dependence on forest resources, Ayade maintained”.
He added “yet, federal government sits back and watches us go through the pains of shortening the highway, creating an opportunity of taking the Atlantic Ocean closer to Northern Nigeria. Federal government should add value to our conservative efforts”.