The restorative agenda of the present administration targeted at Sustainable Forestry Management of Ondo State Afforestation Project, OSAP, through a Public Private Partnership has taken off.
Speaking at the site of the Ondo State Afforestation Project in Onipetesi during the Flag-Ceremony which marked the engagement of an investor, West Africa Forest Plantations Limited, to drive the vision of the government on the project; Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, said his administration was determined to reposition the state’s forestry sub-sector for greater productivity and accountability.
Governor Akeredolu said the sector must change for the better while it will no longer be business as usual for all encroachers, flitchers and illegal loggers at the site.
“We are determined to discourage, actively, the nefarious activities of vandals in this regard. It is our intention to sustain this effort aimed at revitalising the forests through the well conceived programme of afforestation.
“The state of our forests confirms deliberate acts of omission or commission, on the part of those whose responsibility, it is, to ensure and promote the preservation of the environment which have resulted in vast devastation of the forest reserves”, he said.
Arakunrin Akeredolu said it was disheartening to see that the Ondo State Afforestation Project, which used to be a centre of attraction for both local and foreign interest groups, has become a pitiable site, hence the resolve of the State Government to rescue the commonwealth of the state.
“The vast devastation, occasioned by flitching, encroachment and other vices, currently going on at the Project site, has become unbearable to our administration. We are determined to put a stop to this d act.
“We have decided to engage two Private investors – WEWOOD LTD, (10,000 hectares) and West Africa Forest Plant LTD, for the Afforestation Project. We have also granted 10,000 hectares and 220,000 hectares, respectively, for the purposes of ; Gmelina/Teak development, Pulp and Paper manufacturing, Integrated Agricultural food production and fish farming, Employment generation, Wood processing and furniture Production amongst others”, he stressed.
While urging all stakeholders to support the policies of his administration at ensuring quality living for residents of the state, the governor assured that no effort would spared at seeing to the success of current Public Private Partnership initiatives primarily aimed at forest regeneration policies by his administration
“I, therefore, urged all stakeholders, particularly, our royal fathers, community leaders, and youths to cooperate fully with these investors who are in Nigeria to revitalize our devastated forests for greater productivity for the use of our people,” he said.
In his welcome address, the Honourable Commissioner for Natural Resources, Mr Rasheed Badmus, lauded the governor’s efforts geared towards revamping the degraded and depleted portions of the state forest, thereby restoring its lost glory.
He said the government, when it came on board, constituted a joint task force on illegal logging, flitching and encroachment activities to check unwholesome activities in the forest reserves, saying the move led to the arrest of some culprits and have restored sanity to the forest.
The Commissioner who said the Ministry has in this year, generated over #322 million from forestry activities, assured of the Ministry’s determination to continue in such direction which would further create employment opportunities for the teeming youths of the state.
Earlier the Chairman of West African Forest Plantations Limited, Mr Roderick Roy assured that the company will generate over two thousand job opportunities for the teeming youths in the state and provide functional health centers, as well as embark on several social responsibility projects in the host communities.
“Before the end of your first term, we will accomplish the following:
Establish a Tree Nursery of International standards;
Plant a minimum of 500 hectares annually;
Provide boreholes for local communities;
Rehabilitate all the abandoned equipment as well as purchasing new ones;
Rehabilitate existing roads and build new ones where necessary;
Create a minimum of 2,000 direct jobs.
Install Biomass generators to supply electricity to OSAP and local communities;
Develop a working relationship with all local people so that WAF is seen as an ally rather than a threat to their existing livelihood;
Provide premises and assistance for schools in the area;
Turn Onipetesi into a landmark by building a commercial and secure Stopover Park for travellers, with modern restaurant, toilets, sleeping
facilities, banking services and with an outlet for locally grown produce, farmers’ market”, he stated.
Mr Roy however pleaded for understanding to enable the partnership be beneficially rewarding to the all stakeholders.
The Governor, members of the State Executive Council with top government functionaries, Management Staff of West Africa Plantations Limited and Royal Fathers at the occasion took turn to plant Teak/Gmelina seedlings at the OSAP site.