Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo has inaugurated the National Council on Shelterbelt and Afforestation, with the pledge to ensure all issues regarding ecological problems are speedily addressed.
The Vice President, who is also the Chairman of the Council, chaired the Council’s maiden meeting on Friday, February 8, at the State House, Abuja. He charged members to put in their best to ensure the success of the activities of the Council saying “Mr. President has directed that this project must be taken very seriously and diligently.”
He recalled that the Council was set up on 19th January, 2004, with the Vice President as chairman, however noting that with the coming on stream of the Great Green Wall initiative in 2005, the Council became dormant.
“With the launch of the Programme in Nigeria, the National Council for Shelterbelt, Afforestation, Erosion Control and Coastal Zone management became dormant as its afforestation functions were carried out by the Presidential Afforestation Initiative, mandated to carry out the Great Green Wall programme, which is now desirous of urgent attention in view of the time lag since inception.
As a wake up action the Federal Executive Council decided to resuscitate the Council for Shelterbelt and Afforestation and its underlying institutional arrangement, the programmes and activities that will be put in place to achieve the National and by extension sub-regional objectives,” the Vice President said.
Vice President Sambo at the meeting directed the Ministry of Environment, which is the Secretariat of the Council to prepare a comprehensive work plan of activities with specific timelines of implementation, stressing the need for adequate sensitisation of the programme and its objectives. He also directed that the private sector and some notable personalities be co-opted in the membership of the Council.
Arc Sambo further directed the Ministry of Environment to prepare a report on the activities and achievements of Nigeria regarding the implementation of the Great Green Wall initiative for presentation at the programme’s biannual Heads of State meeting scheduled to take place this year.
In her presentation the Minister of Environment, Mrs Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafiya, commended President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Sambo for the resuscitation of the Council and their determination to address the myriads of ecological problems in the country. She also expressed appreciation to President Jonathan for the approval of 10 billion naira for the take off of the programme.
Mrs Mailafiya stated that the Great Green Wall initiative would be implemented in the frontline states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa, Kano, Yobe and Borno. She noted that the programme is being implemented in partnership with the State Governments and the communities. She emphasised that the programme is meant to rehabilitate the environment and not to acquire land from those affected.
The National Council of Shelterbelt and Afforestation is charged with halting the southward movement of the Sahara Desert and mitigating its effect on the integrity of the environment. The Council has the Vice President as the Chairman, while the Federal Ministry of Environment serves as the Secretariat.
Membership of the Council includes the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Ministers of Environment, Finance, Youth Development, Information, National Planning Commission, Water Resources, Agriculture and Rural Development, Science and Technology, and Women Affairs and Social Development.
Also included are the Chief Economic Adviser to the President and the Permanent Secretary Ecological Fund Office. The Council also has a Technical Committee under the chairmanship of the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Environment.