Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Sunday flagged off a Green Campaign to plant 350,000 trees across the state in response to changing the ecosystem and climate conditions, declaring green environment was a cardinal agenda of his administration, with a view to achieving cleaner and greener ecosystem.
The campaign with the theme: “Clean and Green is our Perfect Dream,” kicked off at an event held in Lekki Phase 1 to commemorate the state’s Tree Planting Day.
The programme is an annual event initiated 10 years ago by the administration of Babatunde Raji Fashola, with the objectives to galvanise policies and actions towards mitigating the effects of climate change.
The commemorative tree planting activity was held simultaneously in seven other locations across the state, including Costain area of Ebute Metta where the Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, anchored the exercise.
It was graced by dignitaries and traditional rulers, including the representatives of Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, and Onitedo of Itedo Land, Oba Tajudeen Elemoro, among others.
The governor, represented by his wife, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, while maintaining that green environment was a cardinal agenda of his administration, said tree planting remained an effective strategy to combat the effect of climate change and global warming.
According to him, sustenance of the initiative is a testimony to the foresight of the previous administrations to ensure Lagosians live in a healthy environment.
“We cannot keep on ignoring the effects of climate change, which is the most significant material risk to our future; it is also the world’s most devastating threat to human survival. As we increase effort to rid the state of waste, all hands must be on deck to also improve the aesthetics of the environment by adorning it with ornaments, plants, beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees,” the governor said.
Sanwo-Olu, who noted that there would never be a short- or long-term benefit of cutting down trees under the guise of development, pointed out that the notion of planting five trees in replacement for a tree pulled down was inadequate to address the problem of environmental degradation.
“The truth is, when tree replacement may perfectly rekindle our hope, it does not equally compensate for the damage done to the soil’s biodiversity and the degradation done to the ecosystem.
“When the primary tropical forest is lost, they can never be recovered. As a government, developing new opportunities around green spaces to promote the green economy is cardinal to our development agenda,” he said.
The governor lauded the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK) for the mileage it had achieved in helping the government to realise the green objectives.
This was just as he disclosed that seven million trees had been planted out of the 10 million targets by 2020, declaring that achieving a green credential would help the government to improve healthcare and sustain the environment.
Besides, Sanwo-Olu said in furtherance of his commitment to a green and sustainable environment, the government would re-launch ‘One House, One Tree’ campaign across the state, saying the move would ensure every house in the state plants one tree to intensify the green project.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Environment, Mr Biodun Bamgboye, described trees as “essential” to the ecosystem in which they were planted, noting that the yearly event was aimed at building an enduring environmental legacy in the state.
According to Bamgboye, the state government had, since the tree planting campaign started, pursued “aggressive Green Initiatives and Policies” in its communities, with the aim of stabilising climate conditions and transforming Lagos into a cleaner state.
“We can never overemphasise the importance of trees in our lives. Trees are essential to the ecosystem in which they reside. They have a natural ability to control climate and mitigate the effects of sun, rain and wind. Trees also absorb and store rainwater which prevents the transport of chemicals into drinking water.
“It is instructive to note that putting up ultramodern factories, large shopping malls, beautiful mansions, car parks and mega petrol station without any reservation for green will not compensate what has been taken away from nature. When we make it green, we have made the environment safer and healthier for our people,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary urged residents to reserve significant space in their homes for tree planting in line with the Physical Planning and Urban Development Law of the state.
He noted the best achievement recorded by the state in its drive for a greener environment was the acceptance of the initiative by a majority of residents to promote a sustainable ecosystem.
Joining hand with government to achieve the objectives of the green initiative, various private-sector corporations, religious bodies and non-governmental organisations have volunteered to plant tree across the state.
Gokada, a tech-driven commercial motorcycle service, said it had mapped out a strategy to deploy its members to plant 100,000 trees across the state. This gesture was applauded by the Governor, who urged other private companies and non-state actors to emulate in promoting a sustainable environment.
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Chairman of Eti-Osa Local Government Area, Hon. Saheed Bankole urged residents to take actions that would keep their environment-friendly. He said the people had a responsibility to work with the state government and the council in implementing policies that would prevent environmental abuse.
Chairman Eti-Osa East Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Hon. Rafiu Olatunji, described the tree as “life-saving”, saying: “Anyone who plants a tree has planted a life; we must take a cue from today’s event and plant trees in our neighbourhoods. This is one of the best ways to maintain healthy living and safe environment.”
On her part, chairman of Iru/Victoria Island LCDA, Princess Rasheedat Adu, said tree planting had become a ritual in her local council.
She said: “We are passionate about keeping the environment in its natural form. We believe that whatever we take away from the environment should be returned to keep it natural. Victoria Island is below the sea level and because of this, all hands are always on deck to ensure that we clear our drainages and keep the environment safe. We regularly roll out programmes that sensitise residents on how properly to dispose of refuse and maintain a healthy environment.”