Akin Akande, Abuja
The Federal Government has put started the process of afforestation work in 11 frontline states.
The states are Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara.
The government also disclosed that out of the approved amount of N10 billion, the sum of N3.7 billion has been released to the ministry to execute the project.
Briefing newsmen at the 3rd meeting of the National Council on Shelter Belt and Afforestation, Chaired by Vice President Namadi Sambo, the Supervising Minister of Environment, Darius Ishaku, said the meeting approved the work plan for 2014 activities.
The minister also announced that work would commence on the 11 frontline states from Arewa Local government in Kebbi State to Abadam Local government in Borno States.
His words: “The great green wall is the 1,500 kilometres length Green wall of 15 kilometres and it runs across the border between Nigeria and the other neighbouring countries of the Northern front zone.
“The Great Green wall is strategized to provide an international green belt and we are also using it to create work for our youths, several youth has been engaged in the work of the Great Green wall and we are also trying to provide seedlings that are economic trees and that are beneficiary and can also of economic benefit to the people,” He said.
Ishaku said that the total amount approved at its last meeting was N10 billion out of which the sum of N3.7billion has been released to the ministry to execute the project.
“As at today we have released about N340 million to the participating state to secure seedlings. We are in the process of securing equipment such as tractors and other services for the success of the project,” he said.
As to whether N10 billion would expire with the end of this year budgetary allocation, Ishaku sad: “It can be rolled over. The money is not appropriated, it is extra-budgetary allocation, it doesn’t have a life span.
“About 30 per cent has been released and we are hoping to draw down more on the funds, we are making more request, we are making some advertisements and we are hoping within the next one month, we would have awarded further contract and draw down on it.
“As we draw down and as we implement, we are hoping that we will make more request to the government and government will give us more funds.
“We are trying to strategise more on how to speedily plant the seedlings and make preparations for 2014 so that we start very early to be able to achieve much more than this year,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Taiye Haruna said that the council also approved seeking of grants from African Development Bank (ADB) and Islamic Development Bank.
“Our emphasis is more on making sure that we get a green wall and as we are planting these trees, they should be economic trees,” the Permanent Secretary said.
He stated further: “We are talking of arid regions and not beautification of environment as we have in the cities.
“We are talking of arid regions, let alone talk of beautifying them. The trees we are planting for this Great Green wall project are special kind of trees and not any kind of trees that would give beautification, trees that are specific to arid regions and for economic benefit,” he added.