By Ita Williams
The government of Cross River state says it was out to plant one million trees to replace those cut down across the state including the 28,000 trees which would be cut down along the super highway corridor, and which must be adequately replaced.
Governor Ben Ayade, who made the remarks during the occasion of the ‘Cross River State Wet carnival, said he had to comb neighbouring states of Abia and Benue to source for the seedlings and that 40,000 seedlings were already available for planting.
According to the Governor, “2000 trees will be planted today while the rest will be planted subsequently. I made a budget of N100 million for this year to take care of planting of trees, and I promised to get the same budget increased to N500 million next year.
“I called on young Cross Riverians to plant trees and raise seedlings so that they can make money from the venture by next year. We want the entire world to know today that Cross River state shut down its workforce to plant trees.”
He noted that 58 percent of forest covering the entire Nigeria is in Cross River State, and that the state was out to increase the percentage to 68 percent at least by next year, sought to know what compensation the State was deriving with such huge sacrifice.
The governor further disclosed that the state government has set aside the sum of N5million to reward any of the ministries, department and agency which would emerge first in the tree planting crusade.
Also speaking, Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, who was a guest to Ayade at the occasion, expressed satisfaction over efforts of the Cross River government in combating desertification across the state.
Ikpazu said “Today’s event is futuristic. Ayade is a generational governor and not political. His Excellency Gov Ayade has brought revolution to rice planting and now, tree planting. We will be coming to Cross River soon to pick rice seedlings to Abia. Abia rice knows that parents of their rice are Cross River.”
According to him, Ayade has again put Cross River on the global map in the area of forest conservation.