Traditional rulers in the Federal capital Territory have called on the Federal Government to increase efforts on the fight against desertification in Nigeria, just as they revealed that the FCT is at the mercy of firewood and charcoal sellers, who have indulged in tree cutting to feather their nest.
The royal fathers in the FCT made this call in Abuja recently while making a presentation during a one day stakeholders’ forum on sustainable forestry development in the FCT.
According to the Chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers, Ona of Abaji, HRH Adamu Yunusa, who was represented in the occasion by the Esu Kwali, Shaban Nizazzo, he said the government should come out with alternatives that will discourage natives from felling wood trees for fuel or charcoal making.
”Nigeria is developing, we must move away from fire wood, it’s easy for locals to cut down trees for fuel, government should provide an alternative,” he stated.
The chiefs suggested that the government should involve the traditional rulers in securing the forests as they are the custodian of the area councils and localities.
The body, stated also that the FCT may be begging for arable lands for agriculture with the way wood sellers are cutting trees in the forests around the FCT. They stressed that the protection of the forests ensures food sufficiency for local consumption and exportation.
Also speaking during the occasion, Minister of FCT, Mallam Muhammad Bello, while declaring the forum open, announced that tree planting will become an annual event in the FCT to sustain the environment and replenish the forest.
He, however, promised that the FCT Administration would be providing seedlings and nursery for forest replenishment or afforestation.
The Minister was represented during the occasion by Alhaji Adamu Bappah, Secretary, Area Council Services Secretariat, said:
“I want to assure you of our commitment to achieve sustainable food security for the residents of FCT and adequate management of forestry resources through the implementation of necessary policies that will help to harness the vast agricultural potentials of the Territory”.
He lamented that though “we depend on forests for livelihood, we are allowing it to disappear leaving the 80% of land animals who depend on forests to become endangered and their survival threatened”.
He also pointed at negative human activities like felling of trees, wood fuel gathering, bush burning and illegal timber lumbering as well as unhealthy farming practices and charcoal production are largely responsible for deforestation.
Corroborating the FCT Minister, the Secretary, Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat, Dr. Stanley Nzekwu, who was represented by the Director of Finance and Administration, Dr. Musa Aliyu, said the activities of reforestation was kicking off with the stakeholders meeting
and that the recommendations and communique from the meeting would be acted upon and that by rainy season tree planting would start.
He said his Secretariat would check vigorously illegal felling of trees and other unwholesome activities responsible for deforestation in the FCT.
Idu Jude, Abuja