MThe Federal Government attributed the massive deforestation in states where trees are being cut down for commercial charcoal production to powerful interests.
According to The Punch, the government said that these interests are obstructing its target of planting 25 million trees by 2030 under the afforestation policy of the Buhari regime.
The Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, disclosed this information during the 69th Session of the Ministerial Media Briefing, which was organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, and relayed to State House Correspondents.
According to the Minister, these powerful interests are working against the government’s efforts to save the environment and contain the menace. He also revealed that states have opposed the government’s measures, arguing that the trees are not under the federal government’s purview.
In his words, “The activities of the people in the charcoal business, with all due respect, are being supported by a number of powerful people at the sub-national level.
“And if we try to do some level of enforcement, they will tell you, ‘we own this territory,’ you are the federal government and you cannot enforce your rule and policy on us.
Due to the Land Use Act, he said they needed to involve the Nigerian Governors Forum in addressing the issue of deforestation and charcoal.
He clarified that even though the federal government doesn’t have authority over the lands of state governments, they are in talks with the states to come up with a plan, similar to what the Kaduna State government is doing.
Speaking about Kaduna State, the minister said, “It has invested some hectares of land to plant and we are working with the local governments. So, we are projecting other states will follow suit”.
He added that the federal government has implemented a regulatory tool to monitor the forest regions experiencing the highest levels of stress.
“After tracking it, we raise red flags and then engage those communities and the state governments so that a solution can be brought to arrest of the continuous challenge to our forest.”
Abdulahi stated that they are doing everything in their power to combat the issue.
According to him controlling these activities is a difficult challenge, but the task force is persisting in their efforts to identify those involved and track licensing information, even though it is a somewhat ad-hoc process.