By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Unless urgent and decisive actions are taken against charcoal making business in parts of Niger State, the brisk business of tree felling for charcoal could throw Niger state into grave environmental dangers.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello projected that in the next five to ten years, if deliberate and conscientious efforts are not put in place, tree felling, especially of vital economic trees by loggers who are into charcoal making could spell doom for Niger state.
Tree felling has continued in the bushes and forests across Niger state despite the existence of the law against tree felling in the state.
The development is made worst by the reckless felling of economic trees such as the Shea nuts trees, locus bean trees, mango trees, cashew nuts trees, silk trees and the mahogany trees amongst other highly prized trees by loggers and charcoal merchants.
Most of the trees felled are burnt to get charcoal for wood fuel purpose. The charcoals are sold to merchants who transport them across the country’s border for hard currencies.
The trend has become a brisk business that is undermining the state government’s policy on agriculture as many locals are now involved in the menace of tree felling and charcoal merchandise as against farming and food production.
Across the state, there are now heaps and pyramids of sacks of charcoal for sale to merchants and other wholesale buyers for resale within and outside the state.
The state governor said at the flag off ceremony of promotion of cashew tree planting in Nigeria held in Bida. He said the situation had so degenerated that the state may soon declare a state of emergency against tree felling.
He regretted that despite government’s strong stance on tree felling, the development was on the increase hence something serious needs to be done to arrest the sad development.
Governor Sani Bello warned that felling of economic trees was a dangerous thing to do even as he mooted that the state government would soon convene an expanded security meeting of stakeholders over the development to further caution on the dangers of cutting down economic trees.
He enlisted the support of traditional institutions in the state, the political class and the elites to drum up the message against tree felling for fuel wood or any other purpose.
He directed local government areas across the state to clear 50 acres of land for cashew planting in their respective areas.
Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibrin said in his message at the occasion that cashew nuts have become the rave of global agro allied economy as cashew nuts are hot cakes in the international markets.
The Etsu Nupe and Chairman, Niger state council of traditional rulers, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, announced the readiness of the Edu Soko Farms Ltd in Bida to donate 250,000 cashew seedlings to the state government for replanting as parts of strategies to encourage cashew tree forest in the state.