By Ashie Osor, Calabar
In a bid to stem the tide of deforestation, Cross River governor, Prof Ben Ayade, on Tuesday joined by his Abia counterpart, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, led thousands of CrossRiverians to plant one million trees in the state.
The event tagged: “Cross River State wet season green carnival,’ with the theme: “Calabar Green Canopy Scheme” has the objective of planting one million trees across the state.
Flagging off the event at the Botanical Garden along Mary Slessor Avenue in Calabar, Ayade said it was driven by the People’s generational core process for the future.
He explained that planting of young trees “is very critical for Carbon dioxide assimilation, so Cross River will be the carbon dioxide reservoir, the headquarters of the absorption of carbon dioxide emission into the atmosphere.”
Ayade noted that “Cross River has 58 percent of the entire forest cover of Nigeria and by our designation and plan, our strategy is to grow that to 68 percent,” adding that, “the reclamation of our rain forest remains pertinent to avert climate change.”
He said the construction of the 274km Superhighway where 28,000 trees, would be fell, has made it more imperative for the planting of trees.
“We are planting one million trees as a justification to support the afforestation process, not only for the superhighway but for the industrial farms that are yet to come because we cannot create industrial farms without deforestation,” he said.
The governor who enjoined young Cross Riverians to take advantage of the business opportunity created by the Green Carnival to start growing nurseries for the next year event, remarked: “There is an intellectual, physical, financial and economic component to the action.”
On his part, the Abia State governor, Dr. Ikpeazu, applauded Ayade for the feats recorded in Cross River, even as he described Ayade as “a generational politician,” and the event as “another futuristic event like no other in this country called Nigeria.
“Many politicians in Nigeria are regarded as elections politicians but Ayade is a generational politician who is not looking to the next election but thinking about not only Cross River of tomorrow but indeed Nigeria and the world.”
The Abia governor intimated that “Cross River is giving us a superhighway that will take out only 28,000 trees, but in return, this digital governor is planting not 280, not 560 but 35 times the number of trees he is going to fell. One million trees to replace 28,000, this has put Cross River once again on the global map.”
He used the occasion to announce the intention of his state to procure rice seedlings from the Cross River Rice and seedlings factory in a few weeks, in order to compete the major rice producers.
“From the rice basins of Bende in Abia, we are coming to Cross River in the next weeks to purchase the seedlings that we will use to begin to compete amongst the major rice producers of this country,” Ikpeazu disclosed, adding that “the beautiful thing about Abia Rice will be that we know its source and origin, we are not going to accept seedlings that we don’t know their parents. We know the parents of Abia Rice, they come from Cross River.”
The event featured planting of trees throughout the 18 LGAs of the state as well as street procession and parade by Ministries, Departments and Agencies round the designated carnival routes and terminating at the U. J. Esuene Stadium, Calabar.
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