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 ecosystem and climate conditions.
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 – an annual programme 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.
The Governor, represented by his wife, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, said maintaining green environment was a cardinal agenda of his administration, reiterating his commitment to achieve cleaner and greener ecosystem.
He said tree planting remained an effective strategy to combat the effect of climate change and global warming, stressing that the sustenance of the initiative was a testimony to the foresight of the previous administrations to ensure Lagosians live in healthy environment.
He said: “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.”
Sanwo-Olu noted that there would never be a short- or long-term benefit of cutting down trees under the guise of development, pointing out that the notion of planting five trees in replacement for a tree pulled down was inadequate to address the problem of environmental degradation.
He said: “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 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.”
The Governor praised the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK) for the mileage it had achieved in helping the government to realise the green objectives, noting that seven million trees had been planted out of the 10 million targets by 2020. He observed 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 are planted, noting that the yearly event was aimed at building enduring environmental legacy in the state.
Since the tree planting campaign started, Bamgboye said the state had pursued “aggressive Green Initiatives and Policies” in its communities, with the aim of stabilising climate conditions and transforming Lagos into a cleaner state.
He said: “We can never overemphasize the importance of trees in our lives. Trees are essential to ecosystem in which they reside. They have natural ability to control climate and mitigate the effects of sun, rain and wind. Trees also absorb and store rain water which prevent 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 environment safer and healthier for our people.”
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 greener environment was the acceptance of the initiative by majority of residents to promote 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 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 sustainable environment.
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 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 it 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 environment safe. We regularly roll out programmes that sensitise residents on how properly to dispose of refuse and maintain healthy environment.”
The event 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.