Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has disclosed plans to establish a forestry protection force to fight banditry across the state forest reserves, which he noted, had been illegally converted as bases for kidnappings and other nefarious activities.
This was just as he promised to make a conscious investment in preserving the health, safety and environment of the people of the state.
Governor Obaseki, who spoke on Friday while flagging off a 10-million tree planting programme to mark the 30th anniversary of the creation of the state at Upper Sokponba Forest Reserve in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of the State, said that the initiative would help to keep the forest and the state safe by ensuring that bandits could no longer use the forest as bases to foster criminality with the support of forest guards, security agencies, Edo State Vigilante Network.
According to him, “Along with our forest regeneration drive, we also want to keep our forest and our land safe. With your support and all other security agencies in the State, we will be re-establishing a forestry protection force to ensure that bandits cannot use our forest as a basis to foster criminality.
“As a government, which is committed to the security of lives and property of its citizens, we are determined to keep the feat which we have already recorded in terms of security in the State and ensure that kidnappings, armed robbery, land grabbing and other criminal activities are reduced to the barest minimum.
“Our security strategy is hinged on the collaboration between the national security and the Edo State Vigilante Network so that Community participation is a key driver of our security plan”, he reiterated.
On the essence of the tree planting programme, Governor Obaseki, said due to environmental degradation, arising from adverse weather conditions and threats to livelihoods, his government was collaborating with the private sector and all communities to regenerate degraded and depleted forest reserves in the State for environmental sustainability.
The governor added that discussions were ongoing to establish Bendel Commission, which would help to foster mutual cooperation and collaboration on economic, security, cultural and environmental matters between Edo and Delta States.
He recalled the history of the creation of Edo State and highlighted his economic intervention plan towards repositioning the state civil and public services on the path of greatness including the EDOBEST programme and Edo Jobs.
“We must balance environmental sustainability with livelihood and quickly reclaim our expansive forest land for the present and future generation.
“We are therefore commencing discussion to establish Bendel Commission. This Commission will foster mutual cooperation collaboration on economic, security, cultural and environmental matters between Edo and Delta States”, he said.
Obaseki who described the Coronavirus pandemic as one of the greatest threats in the nation’s history due to the global death toll appealed to residents of the state to inoculate themselves against Covid-19 vaccine in order to attain head immunity against the deadly virus.
“We have continued to invest in our youths through various programmes spearheaded by the Edo skills and Development Agency and Edo Jobs, which have given birth to numerous enterprises in the Edo production hub to the Edo tech hub and Edo creative hub.
“In the next few decades, Edo State will become a tech hub in Nigeria as we create more partnerships with tonnes of young people as competent software developers and tech solution providers.
“Although some of the challenges that beset us today may be different from the ones that beset our forebears, however, concerted and sustained efforts to overcome adversity is very much assured.
“In the face of difficulty, we remain bold, decisive and united as these values have always guaranteed our survival, advancement and triumph”, according to him.
Earlier in a remark, the Chairperson, Edo at 30 programmes, Mrs Julie Odigie-Oyegun, described the tree planting exercise as a mark of a glorious future and significant.
She commended Governor Obaseki for prioritising the welfare of the people and for helping to preserve nature.
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