Michael Olugbode in Abuja
The United Nations Office of Drug Crimes (UNODC) has promised continuous support for Nigeria’s strategic plan towards combating forest crimes.
The Country representative of the agency, Mr. Oliver Stolpe, gave the promise during a courtesy visit to the Minister of State for Environment, Dr. Iziaq Salako, in Abuja.
Stolpe, while revealing that the UNODC had been partnering with the ministry and other relevant stakeholders in the environmental sector for some years, said his visit was to discuss how his agency could be of help the Ministry to achieved its vision.
He said, “With the general support of the government of Germany and the EU we have embarked on different projects to help the Ministry and other stakeholders to develop the first ever National Strategy to combat wildlife and forest crime in Nigeria, it is really a milestone and great achievement and of course the real work of the strategy has been adopted.”
He added that the UNODC was also partnering with the Nigeria Custom Service, National Park Service to give life to the National strategy, while also reiterating the UNODC commitment in ensuring that the Nigerian environment is protected.
The Minister of State for Environment, Dr Iziaq Salako in his response, said he was ready to work in collaboration with relevant stakeholders in promoting the Nigerian Biodiversity.
He said his administration was determined to protect the environment which is one of his core mandate.
He added: “The environment is a gift from God, every member of the environment, from animal, plants and non-living things has a role to play, and man as a head of that pinnacle has a responsibility to ensure that there is harmonious and symbiotic relationship between every member of the environment, therefore we have the responsibility to protect the plants, protect the animals, so that our planet earth can remain in harmonious relationship where everybody can have the benefit of the gift of God.”
He noted that the ministry would create more awareness on issues relating to the environment while also ensuring that it delivers on its mandate.
He said: “I want to assure you as the Minister of State for Environment my office will be opened, the Ministry is available for collaboration on the issue of creating awareness which is very critical because quite a number of things we do in the Ministry are as a result of adverse human activities, therefore we have a duty in trying to deliver on our mandate to ensure that we create the level of awareness for our people I am going to looking up to UNODC in supporting in whatever way in achieving this.”
The minister also appealed for more support and collaboration from the UNODC in ensuring that the country’s national parks were safe from wildlife crime.
He said the ministry was also working on how to used technology in maintaining security in the national parks.
Salako said: “In our national parks, we have challenges of maintaining security and we are looking at how to used technology in maintaining security because if the parks are not safe visitors, tourists won’t come and if we cannot secure our parks most of these animals we are talking about will be illegally taken and traded, I hope UNODC will also support us in this.”
In a related development, the Minister also received the Director General of the Africa Climate Forum, Dr. George Nwangu, during which he reiterated the government commitment to ensuring that the country’s energy transition plan is actualised.