Ayade reads riot act to illegal wood loggers
Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, yesterday vowed that his government would fight illegal wood loggers in the state, whose nefarious activities have led to depletion of the state’s forest reserve.
Addressing newsmen in his office in Calabar, the governor threatened to use any political appointee and security agents aiding and abetting illegal logging as scapegoats.
Ayade said: “Cross River State has 58 per cent of the entire forest cover of Nigeria. We have growing concerns about the rate and the speed of depletion of our forests. It is against this background that I am sending a note of final warning that I cannot watch the complete degeneration of our forest as we see illegal logging becoming the order of the day.”
Ayade lamented that illegal loggers had developed into full-blown armed cartels, prepared to harm anyone standing in their way.
He said: “We are ready to use as scapegoats, one or two people holding top government offices or people who feel they are connected to the governor or those who feel they are politicians and then create an impression with the appointments they have, they can now collude with illegal wood loggers.
“My administration has no interest in any person who thinks that by their status, they can deplete the forest and put the future of generations unborn into such catastrophic and cataclysmic danger. This is unacceptable.”
He said his administration was tired of setting up conventional task forces and committees to tackle the menace and will henceforth explore other options, including a special espionage.
Forest-bearing communities, the governor said have been massively dislocated and their landmass completely eroded, thus creating huge environmental challenges with cumulative long-term consequence.
Recall that 14 major forest-bearing communities in the state had protested, calling for urgent intervention from the state, Federal Government and the international community as logged timbers liter everywhere in the communities.
In a communiqué signed by the Clan Head of Esai Clan and Chairman EKIAO Chiefs Coordinating Council, Ata-Obot Obio Arong Owai and the Coordinator, EKIAO Forest Conservation Initiative, DSP Godwin A. Esira (Rtd), issued at the end of the workshop at Ifumkpa and made available to some newsmen in Calabar, they called for “a review of the abused moratorium on logging with a view to putting in place a workable plan and action for sustainable forest management in the state.
They called for the integration of the communities in the management of the forest in line with the provisions of the Cross River State forestry policy; provide meaningful incentives for communities and groups supporting sustainable forest management, through sustainable livelihood options, and introduction of agro-forestry practices.