The Federal Government has blamed the ongoing deforestation in the country on powerful interest groups who protect loggers that produce charcoal for sale, likewise States who frustrate efforts to stop the felling of trees for charcoal creation.
The activities of these interests, it said, were against the federal government’s target to plant 25 million trees by 2030 under the afforestation policy of the Buhari regime.
Mohammed Abdullahi, Minister of Environment, who disclosed this at the 69th Session of the Ministerial Media Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team, in Abuja, revealed that efforts to contain the menace and save the environment had suffered resistance from states who argued that the trees were not under the purview of the federal government.
His words, “The activities of the people in the charcoal business, with all due respect, are being supported by a number of powerful people at the sub-national level.
“And if we try to do some level of enforcement, they will tell you, ‘we own this territory,’ you are federal government and you cannot enforce your rule and policy on us.
“The challenge we are facing under deforestation and charcoal is engaging Nigerian Governors Forum because of the Land Use Act.”
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Maintaining that the federal government would not wield control over state government lands, it was however, discussing with states to “work out a modality” such as the one being implemented by the Kaduna State government.
Abdullahi, while referencing Kaduna State said, “It has invested some hectares of land to plant and we are working with the local governments. So, we are projecting other states will follow suit”.
According to him, the federal government had deployed a regulatory instrument to track forest areas with the most pressure.
“After tracking it, we raise red flags and then engage those communities and the state governments so that a solution can be brought to arrest of the continuous challenge to our forest.
“So, that is part of the challenge in terms of controlling these activities. But in spite of this, the task force is still there, going after some of them on ad-hoc basis, trying to find out who and who is involved, who licensed who. We are doing our best to curb the situation”, Abdulahi explained.