KOGI State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has expressed the readiness of his administration to regain the forest reserves in the state to enable them contribute to the economic turnaround efforts of government.
He, therefore, urged the newly recruited forest guards to be responsive to duties and ensure that all forests in the state were well policed and protected.
Speaking at the inauguration of 100 forest guards recruited for regaining forest control and utilisation of forest produce, the governor said the engagement of the guards was to further ensure that the resources from the forests came to the coffers of government.
Bello, who was represented by the deputy governor, Simon Achuba, said the inauguration of guards coupled with the existing forest officers would help to reduce illegal forest activities to the barest minimum.
He said, “You must resist the pull to compromise the rules of engagement in pursuit of financial gains or personal comfort. Deforestation is a great social and national evil which should be checked on priority basis for which you have been employed to do.
The governor, however, appealed to various host communities to cooperate with the forest officers by reporting and refusing to accomodate persons engaging in illegal felling of trees in their areas.
Bello also emphasised on the enforcement of the provision of the law compelling the planting of ten trees in place of one tree cut down by those who were legally empowered to log for commercial purposes.
The commissioner for environment and natural resources, Mrs Rosemary Osikoya, said the recruitment of forest guards was necessary for the state to have control of its forest reserves.
She said the move would also ensure protection of endangered species of both flora and wildlife, and sustainable utilisation of forestry produce.
“The challenge towards regaining forest control against a backdrop of high and uncontrolled commercialisation by immediate past government has been reasonably managed with committed strong support of the law enforcement agencies in the state.
“Today, history is made in Kogi with formal inauguration of forest guards which is one of the critical components of rebuilding the state promised by Governor Yahaya Bello.
“One in which the environment is safe for the enjoyment of unborn generations where the totality of Kogi resources work for the totality of Kogi people,” Osikoya said