Africa's most informative media
December 22, 2016
by Efe Igbinovia
As Edo people, we have lived here since, before time was recorded, long enough to see our culture thrive, adapt, and endure. Ours is a world of history, tradition, culture and pride. It is a land that is as much a part of us as our own flesh and blood.
Land use and its importance to us is crucial to our development, harmony and prosperity as a people. It is no wonder the kind of issues generated when land is in involved. Our people feel betrayed, deceived and hopeless when they are ditched in a land deal by their fellow citizens. But nothing can be compared to what they feel when they are ditched by their government set up primarily to protect individual rights and property.
What the Edo State government did under Adams Oshiomhole, allocating Forest Reserves to his friends and cronies, which the interim Godwin Obaseki has continued should not only be condemned by all discerning Edos but should be caused because they don’t only lack clear understanding of how Forest Reserve works, they also don’t care about our people, hence the brazen and mindless manner they are going about it.
Let me quickly remind Oshiomhole/Godwin of the dangers of what they are doing and its negative impact on our collective lives by enlightening them on the very essence of Forest Reserve. They must realise that forests and biodiversity are key to all life forms. The richer the diversity of life, the greater the opportunity for medical discoveries, economic development and adaptive responses to such new challenges as climate change. Forests serve as a watershed. This is because almost all water ultimately comes from rivers and lakes and from forest-derived water tables. Some rivers running through forests are also kept cool and from drying out. For example, “The Amazon is by far the largest watershed and largest river system in the world occupying over 6 million square kilometers. Over two-thirds of all the fresh water found on Earth is in the Amazon Basin’s rivers, streams, and tributaries.’
The Forests serve as a home (habitat) to millions of animals. Think of the many types of reptiles (snakes and lizards) wild animals, butterflies and insects, birds and tree-top animals as well as all those that live in the forest streams and rivers. Animals form part of the food chain in the forests. All these different animals and plants are called biodiversity, and the interaction with one another and with their physical environment is what is call an ecosystem. Healthy ecosystems can better withstand and recover from a variety of disasters such as floods and wildfires. Do Oshiomhole/Obaseki really care about this?
It also has economic benefits because Forests are of immense economic importance to us. For example, plantation forests provide humans with timber and wood, which is exported and used in all parts of the world. They also provide tourism income to inhabitants (people living in or close to forests) when people visit to see the best of nature. Again, it also controls climate because Climate control and atmosphere purification are key for human existence. Trees and soils help regulate atmospheric temperatures through a process called evapotranspiration. This helps to stabilize the climate. Additionally, they enrich the atmosphere by absorbing bad gases and producing oxygen. Trees also help to remove air pollutants.
However, in a bid to satisfy their greed Oshiomhole /Obaseki have thrown caution to the wind and have turned us into a prey to wild animals fleeing the forest and have made us vulnerable to flood and other natural disaster. The damage of what they have done is untold and unimaginable. For instance, Ebue Forest Reserve which cut across Odighi, Uhiere, Osasimwioba, Okokho all In Ovia North East Local Government Area have all been sold off. In Edo Central, the Forest Reserve in Uhuande area, to Ujiogba In Igueben LGA have also been sold out to Dagote and Okomu. In Edo North, the Forest Reserve in Okpilla area and all the Forest Reserve along The Lower River Niger have been given to Dagote and Bua Cement. As I write this piece, the one of Gelegele and Ekehuan Forest Reserve is currently being maped out also for Aliko Dagote.
What is curious in all of these theft of our property is that the communities where the Forest Reserve are, are not been put into consideration. Is it not then safe to say that this action is not been done in good fate, else why would a state government embark on the sale of Forests Reserve without due consultation with the traditional rulers, elders and youths of such communities? It will interest you to note that some members of these communities woke up to the stark reality that their Forest was gone while others are still not aware the damage that has been done to their treasure forest. The implication of this is that there will be endless war between the communities and the buyers by the time the communities come to grasp the damage done to their forests.
A time where we should be making money from our Forest and using the proceeds to transform the economic lives of the inhabitants of the communities and indeed the entire people of Edo State, Oshiomhole/Obaseki are smiling to the bank, looting the state while our people are starving to death in their hundreds on a daily basis. Edo state sits upon enormous wealth and as such have no business waiting for handout from the Federal Government to survive. Sensible government all over the world are making huge returns from their Forest Reserve. For example,In many developing countries more than 80% of total energy(fuel-wood and charcoal) consumed by people and industry is derived from forests. Trade in timber and other forest products is estimated at almost 330 billion US Dollars /year. Its’ value multiplies as it is processed into a range of products used globally every day. Uses of genetic diversity within forests enable the development of new medicines; progress in health care and science.
A trip to Taraba State in the North East of Nigeria will give you a clue of what the wonder they are doing with their Forest. Teak, a type of tree native to the Indian, used for making furniture and and designing and constructing ships is been exported daily outside our shores for hard currency by the government of Taraba in collaboration with a private firm. You would be shocked how their IGR has been boosted by such revenues while we have a government here selling off our people’s livelihoods. This callous disregard to people’s lives by Oshiomhole /Obaseki must not be allowed to go unpunished. The coalition of Civil society groups in collaboration with members of the affected communities as a matter of urgency and necessity must come together to chart a way to ensure that the government stop further sale of this great asset and compel them to begin a process of retrieving forest reserved that has been sold off to friends and cronies in the interest of peace and generations yet unborn.
Efe Igbinovia is a top aid to Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and the MD of Harissa Communications, an Online PR and Branding Firm.
He can be reached on
www.efeigbinovia.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and @p_nigeria
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