By Kinsgsley Adegboye & Olasunkanmi Akoni
It was a mammoth crowd of residents of Ajegunle, popularly known as â€œjungle or ghetto cityâ€, that trooped out to identify with this yearâ€™s tree planting ceremony organised by Lagos State Government.
The residents who were fully mobilised by the state officials for the tree planting campaign had converged at the popular Mobil Road, Ajegunle in Ajeromi/Ifelodun Local Government Area where Governor Babatunde Fashola performed the 2009 tree planting.Â The Mobil Road centre was one of the three centres that hosted the ceremony in Ajegunle. The exercise took place simultaneously in more 35 centres in the state.
Not even the light rain shower of early hours of Tuesday July 14, 2009 could stop the obviously highly excited residents fromÂ participating in the tree planting in their domain. Infact, every major street and road within the area bears witness of this with tree plants presently lining them.
The maiden edition of tree planting campaign which has now been institutionalised by the state government took place in the year 2008. It was at that maiden edition that Governor Fashola promised to make the campaign an annual event henceforth. One million trees are expected to be planted in four years with at least 250,000 trees to be planted every year.
In his address, Gov. Fashola said trees are known to be very useful in reducing carbon-dioxide, a contributor to green house gases and replenishing the air with oxygen, adding that apart from this, trees improve the aesthetic value of the environment.
He pointed out that trees also provide shade and prevent erosion, help minimize flooding and act as wind breakers, thereby protecting people from the adverse effects of wind storm and hazards of nature, stressing that the danger of global warming is now a common knowledge with its attendant rise on water bodies such as oceans, seas, lagoons and rivers which have resulted in flood ravaging the world.
The Governor who noted that global warming is caused by emission of green house gases into the atmosphere thus depleting the ozone layer, said the resilience and strength of trees in absorbing this gas emission cannot be overemphasized. â€œWe are now confronted with the adverse effects of manâ€™s unconscious battle against nature, which has caused untold harship over the years globally. Man is gradually falling from natureâ€™s favour hence an urgent need to retrace his steps.
â€œWhen we launched the tree planting campaign last year in Lagos, we were conscious of the huge task before us and today, we can confidently say that we are likely to surpass our target of one million trees in four years. Apart from the 250, 000 trees planted during the launch, a lot more have been planted by government agencies, corporate organizations, non-governmental organizations and individuals who have not keyed in to the initiative but have been willingly replicating it.
â€œAs the population of the world increases daily, there is unquestionably an urgent need to build more houses, establish more industries, make more furniture, build more schools and equip them with tables and chairs among other needs.
It is true that we get most of these materials, including books and papers that we use in schools and offices from trees. The challenge we face is coming up with ways of meeting our human needs without continuing to hurt mother earth and endangering our lives in the process.
â€œIt is thus of utmost importance that not only must we immediately put a stop to indiscriminate felling of trees, deforestation and bush burning, illegal reclamation of wetlands and buffer zones in Lagos state. We have a duty to preserve nature by planting more trees so that the next generation can get wood for homes, schools, hospitals, furniture, books and so much more.
We simply cannot consume and refuse to produce. You will recall that our administration took the decisive step to protect the existing trees from indiscriminate felling by embarking on a statewide tree tagging, enumeration and identification exercise,â€ he stated.
Speaking earlier, Dr. Muiz Banire, the state Commissioner for Environment said trees have been scientifically proven to be very useful as the first line of defence in the fight against global warming as they absorb the carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere and replenish the air with oxygen, pointing out that during the maiden edition of the stateâ€™s tree planting campaign last year, 250,000 trees were planted, and to sustain the tempo and meet the target of planting one million trees within the lifespan of Fashola administration, many more trees have been planted by various interest groups in the state.
The Commissioner noted that in order to ensure the success of the current efforts to line the state roads with trees, the selected routes for this yearâ€™s exercise have been carefully studied to ascertain the facilities already in existence and determine the species of plants suitable for each area.
He said in addition to Termindia montalis otherwise called Teak, Polyalthia longifolia or Eucalyptus and Pinus Carribea planted last year, the government has selected 10 other species such as Casuarina, Lagostromia, Yellow Phycus, Lypia, Neem, Terbeboa, Delonix, Flame of the Forest and the Palm.
Pointing out that it is pertinent to enlighten the public on the steps to be taken towards successful tree planting and nurturing, said giving plant a healthy start begins with proper planting. He noted that many planting practices are changing to reflect current research and technology.
Labour unions embark on solidarity rally
IT was another solidarity day on Tuesday as the Nigerian Labour and Civil Society Coalition, LASCO went on a peaceful rally to identify with theÂ Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, SSANU and Non-Academic Staff Union, NASU.
It used the occasion of this rally to call on the Federal Government to look critically into issues surrounding education and give a prompt attention to the demands of the people.
The unions would also want other workers, parents, students, youths, traders, professional, transporters as well as artisans to begin to see reason why they must support the on-going strike embarked upon by the ASUU, SSANU, NASU and other governmental parastatals in the interest of theÂ nation and the people at large.
The Secretary of LASCOÂ Comrade Abiodun Aremu, who addressed the press alongside other union leaders said that the demands of these unions are beyond monetisation which government has played up, adding that there areÂ other issues, including adequate funding of education by 26 percent which is the UNESCOâ€™s standard which the government has failed to meet.
According to him, other issues which the unions are agitating for are:Â scrapping of all fees, including law school fees; payment of education maintenance allowance and theÂ recallÂ of all victimised students and staff.
The unions also demand the rights of students to unionise,Â free and quality education at all levels.
Speaking critically on the issues of ASUU-SSANU-NASU, Aremu demanded that Nigerians should disregard the government that has refused to give a listening ear to the demand of the people. He said, while a better condition of service is part of their demands, the struggle of ASUU in particular, is to create an enabling atmosphere for quality and affordable eduscation at all levels.
NAFDAC DG honoured in Lagos
The Director – General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr Paul Orhii was last week honoured by the Nigerian Branch of the Alumni Association of Texas Southern University (TSU) for his achievements and appointment as NAFDAC Director General.
Receiving the Award in Lagos at a well-attended dinner by all past Nigerian students of TSU, including present the President of the University, Dr John Rudley and his entourage in Lagos,Â Dr Paul Orhii said the recognition accorded him by his alumni would in no small measure spur him to put more efforts in the fight to rid the nation of fake, counterfeit and sub- standard products.
Orhii in a short remark expressed his gratitude this way: â€œI am very proud that my colleagues found me worthy of recognition and because this award is coming from a school that gave me sound, quality and affordable education to be able to do the little I am doing for my country, I pledge to represent my alumni well. This award gives me more energy to fight moreâ€.
He further promised to use his position to assist the nation as well as justify the trust placed on him by them.
Presenting the award, the President ofÂ TSU, Dr. John Rudley who commended the Director General encouraged more Nigerians who may be interested in schooling at the university to apply as the management is willing to offer them admission.