Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has said that his administration’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiative was meant to restore the forestry sub-sector of the state for greater productivity.
He explained that the PPP initiative was planned to stop the activities of encroachers, illegal loggers and Indian hemp growers in the state.
Akeredolu lamented that the state afforestation project, which he said used to be a centre of attraction for both local and foreign interest groups, is now in a sorry state.
The governor expressed the concern during the flag-off ceremony of the planting of teak/gmelina seedlings by the West Africa Forest Plantations Limited at the Ondo State Afforestation Project in Ore, Odigbo Local Government Area of the state.
He said: “The state of our forest confirms deliberate acts of omission or commission, on the part of those whose responsibility it is to ensure and promote the preservation of the environment, have resulted in vast devastation of the forest reserves.
“Our administration has resolved to seize the gauntlet by taking a courageous step to halt the relentless despoliation of our common heritage by some mindless persons.
“The need to privatise Ondo State Afforestation project becomes inevitable in order to avert dire consequences for the environment.
“The vast devastation, occasioned by flitching, encroachment and other vices, currently going on in the project, has become unbearable to our administration. We are determined to put a stop to this unpatriotic act.”
Akeredolu added that the development of the environment for the benefit of the people was the reason behind all his administration’s decisions.
“We shall remain focused and courageous in the discharge of this sacred mandate,” he said.
The governor stated that his administration’s partnership with Wewood Limited and West Africa Forest Plantations Limited for the afforestation project would, among others, lead to gmelina/teak development, pulp and paper manufacturing, integrated agricultural food production and fish farming, employment generation; and wood processing and furniture production.
Akeredolu, therefore, asked the management of the West Africa Forest Plantations Limited, led by Mr. Roy Fredricks, to be faithful to the terms and conditions of the Memorandum of Understanding the company signed with his administration for the revitalisation of the afforestation project.
He warned that anything done to the contrary would not be tolerated.
“We remain keenly interested in the activities of our partners with specific regard to redemption expectation,” the governor added.
Fredricks while giving his remark promised that West Africa Forest Plantation Limited would not neglect its Social Corporate Responsibility to the communities.
He revealed that his company planned to provide portable water, health care centers and access roads for the benefit of the host communities.
Yomi Ayeleso Akure