18th July, 2011
The rain poured in torrents, making the Lagos metropolis environment drab, yet Governor Babatunde Fashola led top government officials to mark this yearâ€™s tree planting exercise by defying the rain.
Fashola had in 2008 declared 14 July of every year a tree planting day in Lagos State, southwest Nigeria and last Thursday was the third anniversary of tree planting with the theme: A Tree for Life.
The tree planting exercise was carried out in four major places: Oyingbo Bus Terminus, Lagos Mainland; Abraham Adesanya Housing Estate, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Eti-Osa; Ilogbo Road, Ajamgbadi, Ojo Local Government and the Nigeria Army/Reference Hospital, Morocco Road, Somolu.
Despite the heavy rain, the exercise was carried out by Fashola at Oyingbo; Deputy Governor, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire at Abraham Adesanya Housing Estate, the Speaker, House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji at Ilogbo and the Secretary to the State Government, Oluranti Adebule at Morocco Road.
Speaking at the tree planting exercise, Fashola said since the state flagged off tree planting in 2008, over three million trees had been planted across the metropolis, adding that when the state government brought the idea of tree planting to curb global warming, many did not take the government serious.
â€œWhen the proponents of climate change and global warming were alerting us to the imminent dangers to the future of our planet, many considered them to be prophets of doom. Our government did not discount their advise or warnings.
â€œThe future they predicted is here today. The whole world is witnessing unusual and abnormal weather phenomena. Over the last 72 hours, our state has emerged from devastating effects of an unprecedented rainfall that lasted not less than 16 hours,â€ he said.
â€œWhile we may not be able to determine precisely the role played by the trees we planted in limiting the damage and impact of the flood, the truth is that trees help to mitigate flooding and the combination of the strategies for mitigation and adaptation that we have employed clearly ensured prompt drainage of the flood immediately the rains stopped,â€ he added.
Fashola said the thrust of his message was to urge Lagosians to continue to heed the advice of experts â€œthat it is mitigation and adaptation that will help make life sustainable on this planet because our consumption and utilisation of natureâ€™s gift have already caused some damage.â€
The governor stated that tree planting and conservation were some of the adaptation and mitigation strategies that had been recommended which the government would continue to implement, stressing that trees would help erosion prone areas react better, while urging all to plant trees.
Commissioner for the Environment, Mr Tunji Bello said â€œit was alarming to note that half of the worldâ€™s population use trees as fuel wood and as a result the world loses million of hectares of forests annually with far reaching consequences in terms of carbon emissions, loss of biodiversity, global warming and environmental degradation.â€
Bello therefore counselled against tree felling and advocated that tree planting was a campaign that must be sustained, adding that the planting of trees had to be more aggressive, especially now that the people appreciated the aesthetic value trees add to the environment and also understand the health advantages.