The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) held its annual dinner tagged “Green Ball” with the theme “Green Recovery Nigeria – Restoring the Mangroves and Reclaiming the Desert” at the Grandball Room, Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, recently.
This year’s event was used to create awareness and seek support for its Green Recovery Nigeria Initiative, while focusing on restoration of the mangroves and reclaiming the desert.
Nigeria has one-third of the entire mangroves in Africa. This is the largest in the continent and the third largest in the entire world. The Niger Delta Mangroves are estimated to provide 60% of the spawning grounds of fishes in West Africa. Mangroves absorb carbon and they determine the livelihood of the coastal dwellers. Nigerian Mangroves make up 40% of the remaining original forests in Nigeria and cover 10,500 square kilometres.
Mangrove degradation is being caused by oil pollution, firewood cutting, over-exploitation and sand filling among other factors.
NCF and other environmental NGOs have embarked on Mangrove Restoration projects to restore Nigeria’s mangrove to at least 70% of their original states. There is an urgent need for rehabilitation for the mangrove ecosystem to be stepped up if they are to continue to render services to the country.
The Nigerian Savanah covers 35% of the total land area of the country. It caters for 35 million people inhabiting 11 states. A healthy Savanah ecosystem provides food, fiber and other valuable economic and social services.
Nigeria is currently losing about 351,000 hectares of its land mass to desert conditions annually.
Huge effort is needed to reclaim the desert so that current and future generations can benefit from the livelihood and ecosystem services provided by the Savanah.
The special guest of the event, Her Excellency, wife of the Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Environment, Mr. Biodun Bamgboye, commended NCF for the initiative and efforts so far in advocating for re-greening Nigeria and various other conversation projects.
The President, Board of Trustees of the Foundation, Chief Philip Asiodu in his welcome address stated that despite Federal Government’s declaration and policies on reclaiming the lost forest to at least 25% as recommended by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Nigeria is yet to achieve 5% of this.
The Director General of NCF, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano in his speech observed that the degradation of pristine mangroves and desert caused by various human activities need to be tackled with utmost urgency.
Environmental Stewardship Awards were given to Mrs. Ajoke Murtala-Muhammed, wife of the late head of state, General Murtala Muhammed in recognition of her strong commitment to environmental sustainability in Nigeria through the establishment of Botanic Gardens, poverty alleviation and promotion of sustainable development globally. The other recipient, Dr. (Mrs.) Olufunso Amosun, Founder & Initiator of Green Education for the Youth (GEFTY) was recognized for her valuable contribution in safeguarding the Nigerian environment through advocacy, awareness and youth mobilization.
Timi Dakolo entertained the guests with his melodious music.
In attendance were Wife of the Ogun State Governor, Dr. (Mrs.) Olufunso Amosun, Chief Femi Olopade, Mr Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, and Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi among others.
In rounding up the event, Dame Marie Fatayi-Williams, Chairperson Committee appreciated all the sponsors.