By SHAFA’ATU SULEIMAN
Sokoto state, one of the northwest states in Nigeria is a frontline desert threatened and synonymous to at least three ecological problems, namely; Deforestation, Drought and Desertification.
A recent report from the state’s ministry of environment, says the challenges of desertification are indeed the biggest ecological problem facing the people with a population estimated to be more than five million.
Further reports indicate that the increase in human and livestock population pressure have resulted into significant depletion of the state’ endowed of about 15,000km2 of forest composed mainly of sudano-Sahel savanna vegetation that is made of trees, shrubs, grasses and wildlife.
This degradation of forest is not limited to excessive fuel wood collection by her populace while 90 percent of the livestocks are being threatened by other similar ecological factors.
Over the years, TheWill recalls that both Federal Government and non-governmental organisations have adopted various approaches in providing sustainable solutions that aim to push backward deforestation.
For instance, the National Tree Planting Campaign, Arid Zone Afforestation, Forestry II, State Afforestation, Gum Arabic Integration, Jatropha curcas Biofuel projects as well as forest guards that bolsters forest protection are few of the interventions deployed to tackle emergence of the climate change in the state.
But a new initiative ‘Go-Green Project’ is trying something different with the launching of its tree planting campaign in Sokoto State.
With the catchphrase ‘plant to save lives,’ these Go-green promoters that include Eco Africa Climate Change Foundation, Shehu Maikoli Foundation and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Sokoto Council want to create environmental awareness through tree planting across the state.
“We placed particular emphasis on multipurpose trees and species, especially economic trees for nutrition in climate change vulnerable areas in the state,” says Project Manager and Eco Africa Climate Change Foundation representative, Aliyu Abubakar Shehu.
According to the environmental specialist, Climate change is a reality and fighting climate change requires massive effort. There are many gaps we need to fill, and those are social gaps.
“There is a need to strengthen efforts to educate people about environmental problems and ways to tackle them. This is what the Go-green project stands for.”
Stakeholders led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto state, and other environmentalists have praised the initiators for coming up with the project during its official launching ceremony held in Sokoto.
Founder, Shehu Makoli Foundation, Alhaji Altine Shehu Kajiji, one of the project collaborators said the project aimed at establishing gardens in schools, carrying out roadside plantations, distribution and plantation of indigenous Moringa and environmental seeds to farmers across the state.
“Go-Green will foster green consciousness, educate and empower younger generation actors of environmental conservation and protection by providing them platform and practical opportunity through tree planting.
“Our Young Forester Clubs in schools will connect pupils, students and youths to plant trees and foster environmental stewardship. This will increase students’ interest in their local environment and help them to perform well academically.
The clubs, he explained, are expected to engage in raising plantations and promoting community participation in addressing the menace of climate change, desertification, drought and poverty.
He said the flagship will see to the establishment of 20 gardens in each 10 Junior Secondary and Primary Schools in the state, distribution of economic trees’ seeds to women as well as the inauguration of Young Forester Clubs in schools.
Kajiji recalls how his Foundation has donated no fewer than 2,000 moringa seedlings to the State Zakat and Waqf (Endowment) Commission to complement the Commission’s efforts in the promotion of trees for the Waqf initiative in Nigeria’s northern states and beyond.
Sultan who was represented by the District Head of Kilgori, Dr Muhammad Jabbi Kilgori, commended the project and assured that the Sultanate Council will partner with them in order to achieve the desired objectives.
He however advised the Initiators to engage community heads, institutions, health institutions among others to ensure that they participated in the projects.
On his part, Governor Tambuwal rated Go-Green as a noble initiative in the history of partnership for development in the state as its centred to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal by the 2030,
He reminded that the initiative is a global trend in which countries and non-governmental organisations partner to initiate programmes, actions, interventions and strategies for combating the problems of climate change, food insecurity, desertification and poverty.
“Sokoto state Government has readily keyed into the partnership because the problems of climate change, desertification and drought are contemporary challenges for it being one of the eleven frontline states in Nigeria blighted by ecological problems.
Tambuwal said his administration, on its part, has sustained tree planting through the annual tree planting exercise and routine planting and tending of trees statewide which include the distribution of free seedlings, especially of economic trees, to communities and groups in the state.
The governor noted that the resuscitation and formal inauguration of the Young Foresters Club marks a very good beginning for the take-off of the project.
Chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalists in the State, Comrade Dalhatu Magori at the signing of the project’s Memorandum of Understanding underscores the benefits of tree planting are significant to the economy as it reduces the cost of managing the problems.
He said the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which warned about keeping global temperature from rising by over 1.5 degrees centigrade, has reinforced the need for an initiative like the Go-Green project in the state.
He added that promotion and development of forest products through community enterprises could help improve the living conditions of the rural population; promote food security and conserve natural resources.
Magori also believes that through the establishment of tree planting and distribution, the project is capable of generating employment and promoting the development of forest products through community enterprises.
Professor Abubakar Gwaram of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, of his part described Go-Green as a veritable option that can strengthen the country’s economy.
“If you notice, we have what we call a brown environment. Brown environments are very disastrous; the effort of this project is timely to address this brown environment and to convert it to a green environment.”
An environmentalist and board member of the National Agency for Great Green Wall, Dr Ayuba Dan Asabe, called on governments to commit resources to alternatives to check the illegal logging of trees in the state.