Jonathan’s Speech At The Presidential Flag–Off Of The Great Green Wall

Jonathan’s Speech At The Presidential Flag–Off Of The Great Green Wall
November 25 22:31 2014 Print This Article


1.             We are here in this historic Community of Bachaka to flag-off an important initiative – the Nigeria component of the Great Green Wall (GGW) Programme. This occasion marks a turning point in our collective quest to conserve and manage our environment and improve the living conditions of our people.

2.             The journey to the present started several years ago from a regional idea, which our dear own former President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, and other leaders proposed for the Sahara Initiative in 2005. This initiative was launched in 2006 in Abuja and in 2007, the African Union endorsed the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative with the objective of tackling the detrimental social, economic and environmental impacts of land degradation and desertification in this part of our continent.

3.             As developed by the African Union (AU), through its New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Programme is conceived as a 15 km wide strip of greenery (of trees and bushes) of some 7,775 km long, from Senegal, in the west to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa in the east. The belt is expected to pass through eleven countries, including Nigeria.

4.             This biological corridor along the southern border of the Sahara is a panacea of halting the movement of the Sahara desert southward, protecting water sources and restoring habitats for biodiversity, energy resources and agricultural production.

5.             It is important to note that the Regional Afforestation Project, the Great Green Wall Sahara Project has taken off in some member countries notably Senegal, Chad and Niger.

6.             To this end, a Great Green Wall of about 1,500km-long (East-West) and 2km-wide (North-South), using both economic and forest tree species to be based on community-driven, integrated rural development approach was agreed for the Nigeria segment. The idea is that the project will principally check the advancement of desertification and erosion as well as restore eco-balance even as it creates sustainable jobs for thousands of our youths who are without jobs.
7.             The initiative undoubtedly presents us a great opportunity to advance our vision of a green pathway for human development, and address new and emerging environmental challenges in our country.

8.             Desertification is one of the greatest environmental and developmental problems of the 21st century. This ecological problem can trigger a vicious circle of environmental degradation, impoverishment, forced migration and conflicts, often threatening the political stability of affected countries and regions.
9.             Waging an effective fight against the spread of desertification is one of the greatest challenges in development politics today. In Nigeria, the worst environmental changes brought about by desertification  mostly occur in eleven frontline States of Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Jigawa, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.

10.         However, the impacts of this invidious phenomenon are not only visible within these States but gradually creeping into other States of the Federation, and with the potential to weaken our socio-economic development efforts and engender other challenges.

11.         The Great Green Wall Programme is an expression of our commitment for enhanced environmental management, and thus overcome the problems of desertification. It is a strategy adapted by African leaders supported by the international community and development partners, to fast track the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), roll back poverty and address the specific risks and vulnerabilities in our dry lands.

12.         Our desire to enhance the economic transformation of our great nation, and improve the livelihoods of the citizenry requires that we address the risks and vulnerabilities in the drought and desertification affected States. This is what we intend to achieve by coming together to implement this programme.
13.         We acknowledge that the challenges ahead in our dry-lands are daunting, but it is our duty and responsibility as Government to make a difference in the well-being of our people.  Our belief is that the Great Green Wall Programme will assist us in combating desertification, and land degradation.  And ultimately it will be a vehicle in our determination to eliminate poverty, and create wealth for our people. The project will also help reduce unemployment and rehabilitate over 2 million hectares of degraded land and improve agricultural productivity.
14.         On a global scale, our component of the GGW programme will serve as  a launching pad for achieving Zero Net Land Degradation target as agreed by World Leaders at the last Rio+20 Conference in Brazil. Let me reiterate this: We are committed to achieving the target we agreed in Rio and also implement the resolutions adopted by country Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which Nigeria ratified in 1997.
15.         Over the years, the Federal Government has successfully brought the issues of drought and desertification to the front burner of the country’s development agenda.  Various actions and programs have been implemented in the Country to combat desertification and ameliorate the impacts of drought.

16.         Although, there are no easy solutions for reducing the phenomena of land degradation and depletion of resources, we must all with one accord as stakeholders be more than ever determined to work together to achieve our goal.

17.         In this regard very distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is our strong belief that building effective and conjoined actions at local level, and taking a holistic approach to supporting people’s livelihoods by building adaptation measures and reducing their vulnerability to environmental shocks, particularly climate change is a good strategy to achieving our objective.
18.        Consequently, we will continue to strengthen the participatory approach by involving our local communities in all our interventions as well as improve communication with our partners at all levels. We all must work together.

19.        On the part of the Federal Government, we are determined to deliver this programme to the people of Nigeria, so the region would move quicker towards peace and sustainable development. I call on the affected States to commit commensurate resources, including their part of the ecological fund, to this noble course.
20.        I also urge Governors to ensure that the land required is made available on time and that the affected communities are adequately sensitized to enable them actively participate and subsequently own the Programme.   Furthermore, I invite our development partners, as a matter of priority, to key into the programme, in the spirit of the Convention.
21.         In order to facilitate successful implementation of the Programme, I have approved the establishment of an Agency of the Great Green Wall (GGW). We have also put in place other necessary institutional framework, including a National Council on Afforestation and Shelterbelt chaired by the Vice President, to pilot the process, and advise Government. A National Technical Committee under the supervision of the Hon. Minister of Environment, will provide technical back-up to the Council.

22.         I cannot end my remarks without offering a big congratulation to the government and good people of Kebbi State, in particular the people of Bachaka community, for being among the first to participate in this noble programme. I look forward to the participation of other States and communities in the green belt area as it is a sign of great things to come.
23.         Thank you all, and may God continue to bless our beloved country.

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