Desertification: NIMET boss advocates severe punishment for tree logging

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By Cyril Mbah, Abuja

The growing environmental challenges and severe weather conditions in the country associated with climate change requires that the federal, state and local governments should introduce drastic measures to regulate the deliberate destruction of trees by villagers for charcoal and cooking.

Director General of the Nigeria Meteorological Agency [NIMET], Professor Sani Mashi regretted that the rate of desertification has become very alarming declaring that it deserves radical policies to stem the increase and further deterioration of climate change impact on the nation’s environment.

The director general, who blamed desertification on climate change, over-grazing, the drying up of the Lake Chad and the deliberate cutting of trees by villagers for firewood and charcoal, spoke at the International Conference on Social Responsibility, Governance, Environmental Challenges and the Prospects of Sustainable Development in Nigeria, organised by the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Abuja in Gwagwalada.

Professor Sani Mashi was represented at the event by a director at NIMET, Dr. Clinton Ifeanyichukwu Ezekwe, who lamented that efforts by governments at all levels to plant trees have been thwarted annually by tree logging and urbanization with the result that forest areas of the country are fast diminishing.

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Former Minister of National Planning, Professor Abubakar Olarenwaju Sulaiman who is now the Director General of the National Legislative Institute [NILDS], agreed in his keynote paper that the nation faces serious environmental challenges that should be seriously tackled failing which the nation will slide into a major crisis of epidemic proportion in the near future.

“Nigeria, as a developing country, must promote active and effective governance that delivers quality services to citizens and manages public goods including land and other natural resources for the benefit of all.

“Sustainable development implies the need to meet the present demands without compromising those of the future. This goes beyond protecting finite recourses and ultimately includes protecting the environment and dealing with challenges of the 21st century in an effective and efficient manner,” Professor Sulaiman said.

In supporting the positions of the speakers, the Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Abuja, Professor Yusuf Zoaka said the national planning strategy was allowed to derail from the period when the military changed the five year development plan into a rolling programme which has not served the nation well or promoted equitable development.

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He stated emphatically that the nation’s leaders got the planning strategies wrong when long term plans which would have been more productive of results were jettisoned without providing something better as replacement.

Professor Yusuf Zoaka declared that social inequalities, failures by government at all levels and lack of parental care have helped to worsen the nation’s problems and may lead to a bigger crisis except serious solutions are found to change the narrative.

The professor advised against the growing neglect of quality education and also warned that insecurity may worsen when the government abdicates the responsibility of adequately protecting the nation to the citizenry.

“The people cannot protect themselves. Part of the primary duties of government include the protection of lives and properties. The moment the government falls short in these areas, a serious problem arises,” he stated.

He faulted the policy of opening the nation’s borders to African nationals to enter without restraint into the country due to the faulty concept that Nigeria is the giant of Africa, adding that “responsible people do not run a country that way because such things promotes banditry,  terrorism, robbery, and kidnapping among others.”

The faculty later conferred awards on several distinguished personalities, including the Vice Chancellor of the University of Abuja, Professor Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah and the Vice Chancellor, Nasarawa State University, Professor Sulieman Bala Mohammed who was the chairman of the International Conference.

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