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Unizik partners NCF on environmental protection, flags off 10,000 economic trees

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By Gabriel Chy Alonta

The authorities of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka are partnering with the Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF) to plant no fewer than 10,000 trees within the institution in a bid to preserve the environment and discourage illegal human activities against the environment.

The planting exercise which took place on Tuesday in the university, and also witnessed the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The species of economic trees include sour shop, water melon, avocado pear, cashew, African breadfruit (Ukwa), white-seed melon (Egusi), African mango (ogbono), among others.

Performing the planting exercise, the NCF Director General, Dr. Joseph Onoja said the gesture was part of many initiatives of the foundation and remarked that afforestation would help to green the university environment for restoration. He stressed the need to protect the environment to enable people live in harmony with the environment.

Dr. Onoja planting a tree

He commended the university management for keying into the initiative, and assured that the foundation would continue to provide both technical and financial supports to the university in ensuring the sustainability of the project for posterity.

Dr. Onoja, who regretted that erosion was affecting many parts of Anambra state, assured that the foundation was willing to partner with the State Government through the ministry of environment, ministry of culture, tourist and entertainment, as well as Anambra State Erosion, Water Shed and Climate Change Agency to fight erosion. He expressed optimism that the exercise would be extended to other geopolitical zones.

Also speaking shortly after the exercise, the university vice-chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone commended NCF for walking their talk in the quest to green the environment, noting that “our activities in the environment either make or mar us.

“I am passionate about how we treat our environment. The generality of people don’t know much about environment and that trees give life. We are developing policy guide on environmental activities to ensure that every member of the university community understands the importance of conservation and the need to restore our lost glory”.

Prof. Esimone planting a tree

Prof. Esimone said the university under his leadership has been championing environmental preservation and conservation while developing infrastructural projects, adding that the university has forest reserve which is at the forefront of green evolution.

He said the university through the office of special assistant to vice-chancellor on land and natural resources management, embarked on awareness campaign to minimise environmental degradation occasioned by human actions. He said the university has trained forest guards through the help of NCF and warned that any person found cutting trees in the university would be duly prosecuted.

The vice-chancellor further disclosed that the university had secured a N350 million TETFund support to develop the zoological garden, a project, he said, would be completed by 2023 April. He then called for more support from the NCF and other well-meaning Nigerians to bring the zoological garden to fruition.

In a remark, Engr. Felix Odimegwu, the commissioner for environment, said the exercise was in line with Governor Charles Soludo’s agenda, and regretted that most part of the state were affected by erosion. He said the state government flagged off ‘One household, two trees’ initiative in a bid to preserve the environment. He urged the NCF leadership to extend same exercise to the entire state.

Engr. Felix Odimegwu making a remark

Also, the Commissioner for Culture, Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Don Onyenji, said forest preservation and conservation was instrumental in promoting tourism in the state while calling for a robust partnership with the state government to tackle climatic challenges especially in the area of erosion. He decried that over 900 erosion sites were ravaging Anambra state.

Prof. Philip Phil-Eze, the managing director, Anambra State Erosion, Watershed and Climate Change Agency, had in a remark, said the agency would deepen relationship with NCF to access more seedling.

L-R: Prof. Phil-Eze, Hon. Don Onyenji, Prof. Esimone, Dr. Onoja and Engr. Odimegwu in a photograph

Other persons present at the occasion were Prof. Peter Nnabude, the special assistant to the vice-chancellor on land and natural resource matters, who was represented by Dr. Akudo Onunwa; Ms Folake Salawu, NCF Green Recovery Nigeria Initiative Lead; Mr. Joshua Dazi, NCF project officer; Oladapo Soneye, NCF communications manager, among other university hierarchies.

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