By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
The rerouting of the 260 km superhighway proposed by the Cross River State Government from the Cross River National Park and Ekuri forest reserves has been commended by the World Bank.
The Practice Manager for Environment at the World Bank office in Washington DC, Benoit Bosquet gave the commendation recently when he visited Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade to discuss the implementation of the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Programme (NEWMAP) and the Reducing Emission on Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+) where he commended strides made by the state.
“I believe it is no mystery to say that international community very much welcomes your decision to reroute the superhighway around the National park” Bosquet said, and pointed out that the project will really add value to the state.
Bosquet who led a delegation consisting of teams from NEWMAP and REDD+, commended the level of work done as the NEWMAP especially, has several impacts on man and solicited for more funds for the program which he described as highly popular.
“From the social and economic point of view, as well as environmental standpoint, NEWMAP is very important and we are thrilled that Cross River State is making so much progress in implementing the programme” Bosquet said, adding that; “As one of the pioneering states, Cross River is one of the leading implementing states in the country. I have the pleasure of meeting with a very dedicated team, particularly the NEWMAP project management unit, there have done wonderful jobs.”
On REDD+, he said that the World Bank being a technical and financial partner will alwas strive to ensure activities are implemented to the satisfaction of the state as the state hosts most of the primary forests still standing in Nigeria today.
“Nigeria is a country that is in the process of ratifying the so called Paris Agreement on climate change that was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari and once this is ratified by the National Assembly, it becomes an international commitment for Nigeria” Bosquet said and expressed readiness to work with the state and disclosed some measures adopted by Nigeria.
Also, he said: “Among the measures that Nigeria has pledged to take, is to play its part by contributing to climate change mitigation through the protection of the forest. It is very important that the forest in Cross River State is properly managed and protected as a contribution to this global effort to mitigate climate change which is today the greatest challenge we face as humans.”
Similarly, Ayade in his remarks posited that both programs deal directly with the existence of Man in Africa.
He said that; “As communities continuously cut down the trees for a means of livelihood, they expose the soil to direct harshness of the sun which dries up the micro nutrients in the soil and slows or totally stops the growth of the plants. This makes the family to move away to find other means of livelihood which sometimes are criminal.”
He sued for quick implementation of the REDD+ program as old ban policies have stopped Cross Riverians from utilizing the forests without compromising its capacity to protect. Ayade argued that the implementation phase will see forest communities get a salary for nursing, planting and maintaining trees which will make them feel the World Bank really cares; a scenario he described as “very critical.”
Also, Ayade said Cross River as a leading state is committed as “the people of Cross River know that if we tamper with our forest, Nigeria as a whole will suffer because Cross River state holds in high esteem 60 percent of the entire natural forest cover.”
On the NEWMAP project, Ayade pointed out that; “The state was faced with enormous erosion challenge that has claimed several lives which prompted the state to declare a state of emergency on erosion. He thanked the team for its interventional role which according to him has restored hope and confidence in governance.”
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