By AGBO SUNDAY, Abakaliki
Ebonyi State Commissioner for Environment, Chief Ogodo Ali Nome has said that while some residents of the state resort to the falling of trees illegally was as a result of the rate of poverty noticed in the state.
Chief Ogodo Ali, who disclosed this while fielding question from Unity Times correspondent in Abakaliki, said that some residents of the state depends on the firewood they generate from the trees they fall illegally from various forests in the state.
According to him, so many cases relating to the matter were still lying in court even as he pointed out that the ministry had however generated huge revenue for the state and improved on the environment.
“We are battling to develop a state of ours, over 80% of our people are poor and they live with little thing around them and that little thing is firewood.
“The trees they cut illegally. Like in Effium Forest, we have over 25 cases in court about people that fall our trees illegally. In Ohatekwe, we have about ten cases in court and in CAS forest, we have about three cases there.
“We are making sure that they understand, but the key issue is that our people lack knowledge. They do not know that one tree they fall is equivalent to destroying more than ten lives. We are making effort and we have deployed our staff to checkmate illegal tree falling.
”The Ministry of Enviroment has improved 100% since we came on board. The very day I came to this ministry, our IGR per month was 80,000. But I followed closely the IGR till June last year when we generated N60 million naira in a month. The records are there.
“The least we can generate in a month is N10 million. You cannot place side by side N80, 000 and N10 million. Anybody who says we are generating more than N10 million in a month is a joker.
“If you go to animal pollution which we created on arrival to this office, we have about four pionts that generate money every month. Before, we came people are not collecting any IGR from the market.
“Other areas of the IGR include the forestry. We have not start selling trees from the forest becasue of the climate change. The government of the federation is being critical that nobody should sell trees without raising the trees or if you fall one tree should be ready to plant five trees.
”We have new ideas, new vision and passion for the environment. We are not even talking about sustaining it but improving on it. I told you we have not gotten where we suppose to be.
“Recently, I travelled to China , I learnt so many things and those things I learnt I have just briefed my TAs on wate management, cleaning of roadses and triming of flowers.
“On our side, from tommorow, we will start planting trees in the whole part of the town because I learnt that this is the only month you will plant trees that will not die. If we plant trees between May and June, we know it will survive and early part of July becasue they stay under the rain for upward of six months.
“The ones we planted in 2005 are still there becasue they were planted early September and even the ones we planted in September in some roads survived. Actually, there must be mortality in every segement of agriculture. But if we plant now, majority of them will survive. This is the only way we can sustan it and improve it.
“The only difference between us and the developed country is the maintenance of trees. Our problem here is maintenance culture. We plant trees without the abilty of maintaining it. And this is the area we are talking about improvent. If we develop a character of maintaining whatever we have put in place, then we know we have come of age.
If we can do that other states would come here and learn from us. It is just like the civil servants, they believe in eating salary and not earning salary. Our job here is to formulate polices and the civil servants are to implement it but when it comes to implementation, they fail the government. For this reason, we applied what we call kick and follow in governance. When we give you an assignment, we will follow you”, he said.