Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on government at all levels to prioritise on policies that could effectively and adequately curtail environmental degradation through deforestation.
Obasanjo said this, in a statement made available to THISDAY, on the sidelines of the meeting of the 11th National Council on Environment (NCE) while receiving delegates from the Federal Ministry of Environment (FME) at his Hilltop residence in Abeokuta.
He stressed that charcoal business, common among people of the South-west Zone of Nigeria, had resulted to huge loss of economic trees and greenery.
The ex-President who expressed concern that states like Oyo, Ogun, and Kwara, were losing their rich forest reserves to those indulging in incessant tree felling at the expense of the environment, said climate change and extinction of wildlife were burning issues that government at all levels must prioritise.
Whilst noting that disasters in many countries across the world were consequences of climate change, he urged stakeholders within the environment sector to maximize on the 11th NCE meeting to strengthen existing environmental laws and formulate effective policies on deforestation, wildlife conservation, and climate change.
Explaining the rationale for the visit to the former president, the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril, disclosed that Obasanjo’s understanding of the importance of the environment led to the creation of the FME during his tenure as president.
Meanwhile, Ogun State Government has advocated for more climates friendly technologies to address and mitigate the greenhouse effect as well as climate change in the country. The state Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Bolaji Oyeleye, also in a statement made the call during the 11th NCE meeting held at cultural centre, kuto, Abeokuta, with the theme: ‘Opportunities in the Environment Sector Towards Nigeria’s Economic Recovery, Diversification, Growth and Sustainable Development’.
Emphasising on the need for collaborative efforts among all levels of government, Oyeleye said it was incumbent on the FME to come up with strategies and action plan that would strengthen the monitoring and enforcement capacities of the federal government and its component units.
‘’There is no doubting the fact that greenhouse gases are the culprits of climate change and major sources of these gases are burning of fossil fuels. For us as a nation whose Gross Domestic Products (GDP) depends primarily on exporting of fossil fuels, with our self-declared commitment to achieve the agreement, we must gain back whatever we have lost in our future fossil fuel business with the evolution of marketable climate-friendly technologies,’’ he said.
Adding that, ‘’the federal government should come up with practicable mechanism of curbing gaseous release from automobile and reduce the activities gas flaring in our oil fields should come to an end in shortest possible time.”
Earlier at the 11th NCE meeting, the Minister of State for Environment, Jubril who was represented by the agency’s permanent secretary, Dr. Shehu Ahmed, was of the optimism that the meeting would address the environmental challenges confronting the country, while also hoping that the government would as a matter of necessity consider all memoranda emanating from the fora.
Further, Jubril appreciated the Ogun State Government for its measures in tackling some of its environmental challenges, promising that the FME would continue to collaborate with the state towards making it more environment-friendly.