By: Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
Concerned by the negative effects of deforestation and poaching of forest reserves on the environment, stakeholders at the public hearing put together by the Ogun State House of Assembly on the Forestry and Wildlife Preservation Law bill have agreed on the need to remove farming from the various forest reserves and ensure that wildlife are adequately protected.
Some of the stakeholders who made presentation at the public hearing included the Director, Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF), Dr Onoja Joseph; Chairman of the State chapter of All Farmers Association, Mr. Segun Dasaolu; the State Chairman, Community Development Council (CDC), Chief Kola Kupoluyi; former President, Foresters Association of Nigeria, Dr Bola Odebiyi; Chairman Cocoa Farmers Association, Mr Olusesan Sokunbi and former Permanent Secretary (PS) Ministry of Forestry, Seyi Banjoko decried the impact of encroachment of forest reserves on the ecosystem and national economy.
They described the bill as an important legislative instrument meant to checkmate the illegal exploitation of forest reserves and animals considered as endangered species in the forest across the State, while calling for the promotion of tree planting in all the local government areas, Local Council Development Areas and at the community level.
Other stakeholders including the State Commissioner for Forestry, Chief Kola Lawal and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Stephen Ipinniwa, who represented the Commssioner, Mrs. Adepeju Adebajo, called for amendments of some sections in the bill to further promote agricultural practices in the State.
Earlier while declaring the stakeholders’ forum open, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Suraju Ishola Adekunbi, represented by his Deputy, Hon. Olakunle Oluomo, explained that the Executive bill was aimed at conserving, preserving and controlling forests and wildlife in the State to curb the continued depletion of forest reserves and wildlife in the State.
“The bill is important when we look at the alarming rate of depletion of our resources in forest reserves across the State as against what our founding fathers had in mind, it is rare to see any wildlife in our forests reserves today, as it was when established several years ago”, the Speaker remarked.
Adekunbi added that the forum was organized in consonance with the culture of the Assembly to promote evidence-based planning and decision making for good governance towards the attainment of the rebuilding mission of the Senator-Ibikunle Amosun led-government.
He assured that the Assembly would ensure that the inputs obtained from the public hearing would be accommodated to produce people-oriented law for the progress of the State when passed into law and assented to by Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
In his closing remarks, the Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, Hon. Adeyemi Harrison assured the stakeholders that all the grey areas pointed out by stakeholders would be resolved and harmonized by the relevant agencies of government to have an –all- inclusive bill.