Oyetola: Taking A Giant Leap To Safeguard Our Forests

By Olowogboyega Oyebade Do you know that we all must take giant leaps to safeguard our forests now in our State to avoid wood crises and Emefele’spredictions?  Are you aware that the wood economy is historically the starting point of all civilizations worldwide?  Do you know that the wood era preceded the Paleolithic and the…”
February 2, 2019 6:47 pm

By Olowogboyega Oyebade

Do you know that we all must take giant leaps to safeguard our forests now in our State to avoid wood crises and Emefele’spredictions?  Are you aware that the wood economy is historically the starting point of all civilizations worldwide?  Do you know that the wood era preceded the Paleolithic and the Neolithic ages? Are you aware that wood crises in ancient Greece once led to popular riots? Do you know that the wood crises led to the conquest of Greece by Phillip II of Macedon in the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC? Are you aware that good management of wood and its uses assisted the famous Alexander the Great to conquer parts of Asia, Iraq, Iran and Egypt with stronger weapons made of woods?

Are you reading this write-up on e-platforms or hard-copy? Are you seeping tea with it and masticating stick-meat?  Are you on bed or  just waking up on a sofa?  Are you sitting down on furniture or thinking to build a house or planning to equip a new abode? Do you know that from all these activities, you are impacted by forests and their products? Do you feel some pains in your body or you feel like brushing your mouth to take a meal?  Do you know that the drugs you are likely to take or the paste put on your brush are all from forests products?  Yes!

And now the news in full. Over 2 billion people rely on forests by providing them with shelter, livelihoods, water, food and fuel security. . We get fruits, paper and wood from trees and forest by-products are converted to medicines, cosmetics and detergents. Do you know that forests provide habitats to diverse animal species and serve as homes  to 80% of the world’s terrestrial bio-diversity?  Do you know that forests form the source of livelihood for many different human settlements, including 60 million indigenous people? Do you know that forests provide jobs for more than 13 million people across the world and another 300 million people live in forests?  Are you aware that between 1990 and 2015, the world lost some 129 million ha of forest, an area equal to the size of South Africa? Do you know that when we take away the forest, it is not just the trees that go, the entire ecosystem begins to fall apart, with dire consequences for all of us now and in future?

​Are you aware that after oceans, forests are the world’s largest storehouses of carbon that provide ecosystem services that are critical to human welfare? Do you know that these ecosystem services include absorbing harmful greenhouse gases that produce climate change, providing clean water for drinking, bathing, and other household needs, protecting watersheds and reducing or slowing the amount of erosion and chemicals that reach waterways, providing food and medicine and serving as a buffer in natural disasters like flood and rainfalls to more than half of the world’s land-based species? Are you aware that our State is a major culprit in reckless deforestation? Do we take our eyes off the mess and leave Mr Ajilore to continue to battle alone those vilifying us, economically speaking,  in the forests? We must wake up from slumber.  You say: why? Please, enjoy this time-out.

Are you aware of Bayonle Olorode Panel,  constituted last week by Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, the Governor of the State of Osun to look into all issues relating to the closure of our Forest Reserves in November, 2018?  Do you know that the panel has commenced sitting?  Do you know that we must cooperate with the panel to overhaul the sector lest we are worsted as a State by ‘Emefele’s predictions? What is Emefele’s  prediction?  Enjoy this time-out.

Hurray! A new minimum wage regime has been approved by the Council of State for Nigeria for onward transmission to the National Assembly to give it the force of law.  It is #30,000 for Federal and #27,000 for States amnd Local Governments.  The noticeable disparity of wages proposed by the Federal Government for Federal and other sector workers has however been criticized by members of the House of Representatives at the plenary last Thursday as the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, read a letter by President Buhari to the legislature, seeking an amendment to the Minimum Wage Act 1981, to reflect a new minimum wage of N27,000. Do you know that the issue of the minimum wage is coming at an inclement hour when most of the States have not been faring well as far as payments of current salaries are concerned?  Do you know that our economic growth remains sluggish and reliant on the rebound in oil output while the non-oil economy, which accounts for about 90 per cent of GDP, continues to languish with many service sectors still mired in  grieving contraction?

Are you aware that joblessness continues to rise, thus pushing the number in poverty bracket to 87 million people?  Do you know what the Central Bank stands for in an economy? Apart from being the banker’s bank, lender of last resort, and supervising the economy, do you know that it also acts ‘John the Baptist’, speaking to power to avoid economic doom? Emefielesaid the Nigerian economy has again started showing signs of weakness, an indicator that it may slip into recession. He disclosed this to journalists at the end of a two-day meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee in Abuja on Tuesday, September 25, 2018. He said that the committee was concerned that there was a fresh threat of recession as the economy recorded growth rate of 1.95 per cent and 1.5 per cent during the first and the second quarters of year 2018.

He blamed the slowdown on the oil sector, with strong linkages to employment and growth. He said the late implementation of the 2018 budget, weakening demand and consumer spending, rising contractor debts, and low minimum wage were some of the risks to output growth. Others, according to him, are the impact of flooding on agricultural output, continued security challenges in the north-east and north-central zones, and growing level of sovereign debts. He observed that despite the under-performance of key monetary aggregates, headline inflation inched up to 11.23 per cent in August 2018 from 11.14 per cent in July 2018.

As the battle to save the economy rages on, just last Wednesday, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, recommended the use of trade protection as a monetary policy tool to resolving negative perceptions about our country. Trade protectionism is an economic policy of restricting imports from other countries through methods such as tariffs on imported goods. It is also designed to discourage imports and prevent the foreign dominance of local markets. It must be noted that protectionism directly contrasts with the system of free trade in which the trading in goods and services between or within countries flows unobstructed by trade restrictions. Emefiele said Nigeria with its insatiable taste for foreign goods had embraced the concept to protect its domestic economy. According to him, Nigeria in the past had opened its borders to indiscriminate importation of goods and services. This, he said, prompted the CBN to introduce the restriction of official foreign exchange on 41 items with a view to reversing the multiple challenges of dwindling foreign reserves.

He said other policies introduced included contracting Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a result of recession and an embarrassing rise in the level of unemployment confronting the economy. Emefiele also said pragmatic economic nationalism, therefore, would ordinarily vote in favour of protecting the domestic economy. This, he added, would be “as long as it does not infringe upon the tenets of beggar-thy-neighbour policies”. The CBN has now warned Federal Government from further borrowing to finance our economy. Do you know that this policy directive may hamper the implementation of the 2019 budget?  Do you know that the weight of the minimum wage, the cost of the elections and the slipping recession are enough weight for the economy to yield to stress and the safety-valve may be foreign loans…loans that Central Bank is warning that it may slip us to recession?  The alternative for all tiers of government is to look inward now so as not to foul the land.  Do you know that politics and economy are like ‘Siamese twins’ and difficult to separate most times, even with the best of surgeons? You say: how? A time-out.

Conjoined twins are identical twins joined together in their common physiology.  It occurs at ratio 1 in 189,000 births and more common in South-East Asia.  There are two theories advanced by scientists to explain its occurrence.  We have  thetheories of fission of the fertilized egg splitting partially and fusion which is less popular now.  The most famous pair of conjoined twins was Chang and Eng Bunker (1811–1874).  They were born in Siam now Thailand. They were joined at the torso by a band of flesh, cartilage, and their fused livers. Are you aware that despite these limitations, they were popular entertainers? Do you know that the rarity of their fame and condition earned them the popular term we now call “Siamese twins” as a synonym for conjoined twins?  Do you know that the first recorded successful separation of conjoined twins was performed in 1689 by Johannes Fatio?  Do you know that in 1957, Bertram Katz and his surgical team made international medical history performing the world’s first successful separation of conjoined twins sharing a vital organ?  Do you know that conjoined twins, Ganga and Jamuna Shreshta, who were born in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 2000 were operated in 2001 for 197 hours of clinical surgery which took place in Singapore?  Comrades! Surgical separation of ‘Siamese Twins’ is a serious business like politics and economy. And trust, the separation of politics from economy is not a joke, the nature of one determines the other. Enjoy this time-out.

It was in December 2008.  Political Economy of Greece changed like a meteor.  What were the results?   Greece experienced extensive civil unrest that continued into January and then again in late February many Greeks took part in a massive general strike because of the economic situation.  Schools were shut down.  Airports were closed to business.  Many other services were shut down as a result of lack of synergy between Politics and Economics.  That is Political Economy in motion. Do you know that in January 2009, the government leaders of Iceland were forced to call elections two years early after the people of Iceland staged mass protests and clashed with the police due to the government’s handling of the economy?  Do you know that hundreds of thousands of people who protested in France against President Sarkozy’s economic policies are now with the ‘Yellow-Vests’ to protest against President Macron?

Have you heard the news?  The political economic drama of President Maduro and the opposition leader in Venezuela? How do we explain why blood should not flow as the military of the country backs Maduro while Trump and other Amecican States back the opposition leader? Can you imagine chartering a vehicle to load huge currency that will be big enough to buy just a loaf of bread?   Are you aware that inflation rate has risen to 10 million per cent?  Do you know the country is at the tipping edge to war against itself?  Do you know that Police and protesters are clashing in different parts of Europe, Asia and South America and Africa?

Do you know that Sudan is in a fresh crises occasioned by political economy? Do you know that there are various degrees of protest  in Moscow to protest against the Russian government’s economic plans?  Do you know that protests have also occurred in China as demands from the West for exports were dramatically reduced and unemployment increased? Are you not surprised of the recent wave of popular unrest  in British parliament and streets about Brexit?  Do you not see political economy on display as protectionism and globalization are in open confrontation, giving themselves knock-outs giving little or no room for fiscal stimulus due to budgetary or financing constraints in Britain?  Nigeria has been predicted to take some metres on this route this year. Hence, each State must look inwards. Things are “no longer at ease.”

​On Wednesday 20 December 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2019 Budget Proposals to the Joint Session of the National Assembly with the main objective to  ‘further place the economy on the path of inclusive, diversified and sustainable growth in order to continue to lift significant numbers of our citizens out of poverty’. The cumulative expenditure is N8.83 trillion of which N4.04 trillion is recurrent, N2.31 trillion capital and N2.14 trillion to be devoted to debt service. The spending is lower than the 2018 budget by N300billion with the expected inflation regime of 11%, thus making the value of the budget to be N7.95 trillion. The high rate of unemployment, the capital flight as a result of the general election and the limited Foreign Direct Investment may compel government to borrow to finance the 2019 budget.   Alas! The Central Bank has warned that Nigeria should stop borrowing so as not to slip into recession.   Over 87 million people are still in extreme poverty.  There is high rate of unemployment.  These high rates of unemployment represent both a significant distortion in the economic system and a lost opportunity for critical national development and could potentially threaten social stability. We need our own Keynes at the State and national levels.  You care for Keynes?  Enjoy this time-out.

​Keynesian economics developed during and after the Great Depression, from the ideas presented by John Maynard Keynes in his 1936 book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money as part of his contributions to Macroeconomics.  Macroeconomics is the study of the factors applying to an economy as a whole, such as the overall price level, the interest rate, and the level of employment in relation to productivity in a country.  Keynesian economics are best suited to manage in the short run, economic recessions. In the Keynesian view, aggregate demand does not necessarily equal the productive capacity of the economy; instead, it is influenced by a host of factors and sometimes behaves erratically, affecting production, employment and inflation. Keynesian economists generally argue that, as aggregate demand is volatile and unstable, a market economy will often experience inefficient macroeconomic outcomes in the form of economic recessions (when demand is low) and inflation (when demand is high). These can be mitigated by economic policy responses, in particular, monetary policy actions by the Central Bank and fiscal policy actions by the government, which can help stabilize output over the business cycle. Keynesian economists generally advocate a managed market economy – predominantly private sector, but with an active role for government intervention during recessions and depressions. We need our Keynes now in Nigeria and the State of Osun.  .

Eureka!  We have found it in our State.  He is no other person than Mr Adegboyega Oyetola.  He has commenced to diversify the economy of the State through revolutionary ideas.  One of such initiatives is his focus on Forestry in the State.  Forestry is the science and craft of creating, managing, using, conserving, and repairing forests, woodlands, and associated resources for human and environmental benefits. The science of forestry has elements that belong to the biological, physical, social, political and managerial sciences.  This field of study embraces the provision of timber, fuel wood, wildlife habitat, natural water quality management, recreation, landscape and community protection, employment, aesthetically appealing landscapes, bio-diversity management, watershed management, erosion control, and preserving forests as “sinks” for atmospheric carbon dioxide. Forestry is an important economic segment in various industrial countries. For example, in Germany, forests cover nearly a third of the land area.

​Do you know that during the pre-industrial age timber and firewood were the basic resources for energy, construction and housing? Do you know that the rise of Economics as a Science and capitalism as an ideology promoted the study of Forestry to create new notions of land-use and property? Sustainable formal forestry practices were developed in the 5th century by the Romans.  It was popular in China since the Han Dynasty. In Europe, systematic management of forests for a sustainable yield of timber began in Portugal in the 13th century when Afonso III of Portugal planted the Pinhal do Rei near Leiria to prevent coastal erosion and soil degradation, and as a sustainable source for timber used in naval construction.  Forest management also flourished in the German states in the 14th century. Starting with the sixteenth century, enhanced world maritime trade, a boom in housing construction in Europe and the success of the mining industry increased timber consumption sharply.

The practice of establishing tree plantations in the British Isles was promoted by British monarchs.  During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, forest preservation programs were established in British India, the United States, and Europe. The 19th century widely increased the availability of steel for whipsaws and introduced Forest railways and railways in general for transport and as forestry customer. Further human-induced changes, however, came since World War II, respectively in line with the “1950s syndrome”. The first portable chainsaw was invented in 1918 in Canada, but large impact of mechanization in forestry started after World War II. Forestry harvesters are among the most recent developments. Right now, drones, planes, laser scanning, satellites and robots also play a part in forestry.

Do you know that Forestry requires sound education? Do you know that Spain was the first country to establish the first forestry school called the Forest Engineering School of Madrid. The first Forestry School in North America was Biltmore Forest School, Asheville, North Carolina, which took off on September 1, 1898. Today, forestry education typically includes training in general biology, ecology, botany, genetics, soil science, climatology, hydrology, economics and forest management. Education in the basics of sociology and political science is often considered an advantage. Professional skills in conflict resolution and communication are also important in training programmes.

Do you know that right now research exists regarding the management of forest ecosystems and the genetic improvement of tree species and varieties?  Are you aware that Forestry studies include the development of better methods for the planting, protecting, thinning, controlled burning, felling, extracting, and processing of timber. One of the applications of modern forestry is reforestation, in which trees are planted and tended in a given area?  Do you know that forestry is important for the prevention serious soil erosion or even landslides? Do you know that wood economics must consider indigenous rights, recreation, watershed management, and preservation of wilderness, waterways and wildlife habitat?

Do you know that we need well-trained Foresters who can use geographic information systems, combat insect infestation, disease, forest and grassland wildfire and some other disasters occasioned by afforestation?  Do you know that we need Foresters who can participate in wildlife conservation planning and watershed protection, timber management, especially reforestation, maintaining forests at prime conditions, and fire control, develop and implement forest management plans relying on mapped resource inventories showing an area’s topographical features as well as its distribution of trees (by species) and other plant cover?  Do you know that we need Foresters who will be versed in application of digital maps in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) that extracts and integrates different information about forest terrains, soil type and tree covers using laser scanning, drones and similar technology?

Do you know that our forest management should include ecological, financial, logistical studies including producing quality wood products for processing or sale?  Do you know that our forest management should include consideration of future conditions of the stand after any recommended harvests treatments, including future treatments and plans for natural or artificial regeneration after final harvests?  Do you know that our Foresters must be aware of all climate change legislation  and the new climate change regulatory system?

Do you know that all of us have a lot to do to reverse the adverse trend of our Forests?  Do you know that much timber is removed for firewood by local populations in many countries? Do you know that by 2001,  the rainforest areas of Brazil were reduced by a fifth? We must equip the new Foresters to have good foundation in multi-objective forest planning, the ability to do economic and social analysis of the forestry sector, and understanding of the different forms of use for forests. Graduates are best suited for these challenges.  Our Forest policy education should prepare our students to assess the effectiveness and impact of regulatory plans for action, as well as the ability to understand and assess domestic and international political processes that have an effect on forest use. Forest policy education, supplemented with forest and environmental law studies should be allowed to have good prospects in civil service of the State of Osun.

​Do you know that as of 2005, Nigeria has the highest rate of deforestation in the world according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)?  Are you aware that between 2000 and 2005 the country lost 55.7% of its primary forests, and the rate of forest change increased by 31.2% to 3.12% per annum?

Deforestation is a process where vegetation is cut down without any simultaneous replanting for economic or social reasons. Deforestation has negative implications on the environment in terms of soil erosion, loss of bio-diversity ecosystems, loss of wildlife and increased desertification among many other reasons. Deforestation also has impacts on social aspects of the country, specifically regarding economic issues, agriculture, conflict and most importantly, quality of life. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations lists the requirements of sustainable forest management as: extent of forest resources, biological diversity, forest health and vitality, productive functions of forest resources, protective functions of forest resources, socio-economic functions and a legal, policy and institutional framework. Many aspects of the outline are currently not being met and will continue to have detrimental effects if not quickly addressed. Mr Adegboyega Oyetola wants to address these fundamentals in the State of Osun by constituting the ‘Bayonle Panel’  and the panel is to submit its reports within three week.

A report in 2010 showed that Nigeria nearly halved its amount of forest cover, moving from 17,234 to 9041 hectares. The combination of extremely high deforestation rates, increased temperatures and decreasing rainfall are all contributing to the desertification of the country. The carbon emissions from deforestation is also said to account for 87 per cent  of the total carbon emissions of the country. Are you aware that Nigeria’s wide bio-diversity of 899 species of birds, 274 mammals, 154 reptiles, 53 amphibians and 4,715 species of higher plants will also be strongly affected by the negative impacts of deforestation. Do you know that much of the allowance for deforestation in Nigeria comes from their demand for fuel wood for 90 per cent of the Nigerian population? Do you know that we have to popularise the use of alternative sources of energy because of high levels of poverty in the country relating to deforestation?

Do you know that the State Department of Forestry has not been implementing any forest management policies in efforts to curb deforestation?  Do you know that without any conservation efforts or education, the State is not aware of how to properly treat finite natural resources in the face of indiscriminate and illegal logging?  Do you know that any solution to the problem of deforestation in Nigeria must be an approach that incorporates and aggressively targets all aspects that are related to the problem?  Do you know that we have to teach each person in areas of energy alternatives, improved technology, forestry management, economic production, agriculture and security of the locals that are dependent on the land?  Do you know that energy alternatives include hydro power, solar energy and wind energy?

Do you know that our Technical Colleges or Polytechnics have to accept the challenge to improving the technology of cooking stoves for our households in the State?  Do you know that we must develop a programme  to reduce the rates of deforestation that contribute to Carbon Dioxide  emissions including Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in and Forest Degradation?

Deforestation all over the globe is threatening the sustainability of the environment but has had especially detrimental effects in Nigeria due to their high rates. Deforestation puts at risk all aspects of the environment, the economy and of the citizens of the State. Do you know that our country’s forests are home to 1417 known species of fauna and at least 4715 species of vascular plants according to figures from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre? Do you know that the time to upgrade the capacity of those managing our forests in our State is now? Do you know that a situation we deploy officers of base instincts as Forests Guards need serious review? Do you know that a situation whereby the worst in us is put in Forestry to do the best for all in his assignments in the Forest Reserves should not endure for long.  We must stop all journeys to the alley.  We must all take interest in the proceedings of the Committee to turn up the fortunes of our State, push us out of recession and empower us to pay the required wages to workers as approved.  This is the only miracle of ‘Daman’.

Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, the Governor of the State of Osun is our Keynes.  We should cooperate with all his theories and practice to bail us of out of the Emefele’s  prediction of recession and poverty. We must all take giant leaps to safeguard our forests. Osun a dara!

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