A former Governor of Imo, Ikedi Ohakim, says over 100 million Nigerians are directly or indirectly threatened by desertification, deforestation and erosion.
Ohakim made this known in a paper he delivered at the 2019 Public Service Lecture of the University of Ibadan Alumni Association, Imo State Branch.
Ohakim said that the annual rate of deforestation in Nigeria stood at approximately four per cent or about 400,000 hectares to 450,000 hectares.
According to him, out of 909.890km2 of the country’s land area, about 600,000km2 or 65.94 per cent of the total land area had been lost to desert encroachment.
“Over 100 million people or 50 per cent of our citizens are directly or indirectly being threatened by desertification, deforestation and gully erosion,” he said.
Ohakim called on Nigerians to cooperate with governments in curbing deforestation by stopping what he called “people’s bizarre behaviour such as refuse madness, indiscriminate cutting of trees, open defecation, over grazing and others in the midst of climate emergency”.
“It is an inescapable fact that we have got to the point of profound disconnect from our environment and one another.
“We have behaved in a shortsighted way, dealing heavy blows to the environment, and the environment is fighting back,” he said.
The former governor said that leadership transcended politics, adding that Nigerians must take serious account of leadership at the family, community, church, institutions and organisational levels, ‘otherwise, those at the helm of affairs would escape scrutiny’.
He described leadership as the ability to inspire change and make a paradigm shift, urging that leadership must move a people or an organisation to the next level.
According to him, a leader must be a man of courage and conviction if he must change the status quo, as well as be visionary to effect the desired change.
“The urgency of our situation demands a new, clear and different structure through which our people will be organised to face the 21st-century challenges,” he said.