Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Monday presided over the Sixth Tree Planting Campaign in the State saying his administration has institutionalized the Greening and Beautification policy which began in 2008 in order to ensure the maintenance of the environment on a sustainable basis.
Governor Fashola, who spoke during the 2014 Tree Planting Campaign at the Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie road in Sangotedo area of Eti-Osa East Local Council Development Area of the State, said Government has created a statutory agency called the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK), to maintain and sustain the various parks, gardens and trees now dotting the landscape across the State.
Addressing stakeholders including members of the State Executive Council, Traditional Rulers and Community leaders as well as environmentalists and citizens of the area, the Governor said the annual ceremony speaks eloquently to the consistency of his administration in formulating policies and staying with them.
“This is the 6th consecutive year that we have commemorated this event since I declared in 2008 that July 14 will be our State’s Tree Planting Day. All over the world today, wherever you go, you will observe that cities and countries are embarking on massive tree planting and greening programmes”, the Governor said.
Calling on all people and governments “who are serious” to “stop pretending and take action”, Fashola declared that “It is a serious matter that underpins our survival on this planet because the threat of global warming and climate change is now undebatable”, quoting the former Vice President of the United States Al Gore, who described it as “ an inconvenient truth”.
The Governor expressed joy that he is heading “a Government that first took very clear and positive action in Nigeria to protect the environment and create parks, gardens and also plant millions of trees” pointing out that “all over the State, wherever one goes, one would now see scores of parks, gardens and millions of trees in different stages of development”.
On the economic impact of the Greening, Beautification and Tree Planting programme, Fashola said it has created jobs for over 69,000 people across the State who now run small businesses and mainly sole enterprises adding that in five years of the programme (2008-2013), 28,094 jobs were created from the annual tree planting alone, while between January and June 2014, 3,180 jobs were created.
“These came from maintenance of nurseries, to supply of seedlings, planting the trees, maintaining them daily for which people are paid and the provision of tools, which are supplied to do the works”, the Governor said adding the programme also provided jobs for tanker drivers who supply water to tree planters.
Pointing out that the people involved are ordinary people, Fashola declared, “For them this initiative has become a life saver, a source of dignity that helps them say every morning to their families, “I am going to work”.
According to him, those who benefitted from the over 69,000 jobs in landscaping, development and maintenance of parks and gardens include Direct labour horticulturists (51), major contractors (10), plumbers (sprinklers, water pumps) (5,000), Electricians (Lighting parks, maintaining fittings) (6,256) and Gardeners (15,640).
Others include bricklayers (12,512) Painters (2,496), Welders (14,686), Labourers (for site clearing) (2,500), Consultants (3), Security men (2,176), Graphic Artists (Signs) (15) and Sculptors (10) excluding suppliers of trimmers, lawn mowers, blades, uniforms, books and other equipment.
According to the visibly elated Governor, “I feel vindicated by the result of this far sighted initiative for many reasons. First, it is consistent with goal number 7 of the Millennium Development Goal and our Party’s commitment to sustainable environmental development. Secondly, we have turned an environmental challenge into a massive economic opportunity. Thirdly and perhaps very defining, I feel vindicated by our opponent’s flip flop, lies and shameful inconsistency”.
He however advised that,“For the people of Lagos, for our employees, artisans and economic beneficiaries of this policy, this is the last Tree Planting Day that I will address as your Governor. Our Government and our Party remains committed to continuing it. But you know what our opponents think about it. So ,if you value the jobs and economic benefit it has brought to you, you must vote to keep it, you must defend your livelihood with your votes”, Fashola said.