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The Lagos State Government on Monday commemorated the annual tree planting exercise in the state with Governor Babatunde Fashola stating that a new economy has emerged from nothing through the tree planting initiative which has created over 69,000 new jobs.
Speaking at the Tree planting exercise with the theme, “Life is better with Trees”, which took place at Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie Road, Sangotedo Area of Eti-Osa Local Council Development Area, Fashola added that what some uninformed opponents have termed as elitist has developed the Lagos economy and also created new jobs.
He informed the audience that between year 2008 and 2013, a total of 28,094 jobs were created from the annual tree planting exercise of the state government, while between January and June this year, 3, 180 jobs have been created.
According to the governor, the new jobs came from maintenance of nurseries, supply of seedlings, planting of trees and maintaining them; adding that for people in this category who are ordinary people, the new jobs have become life savers to them.
He stated that in terms of landscaping, gardening and maintenance of several parks and gardens in the state, 51 direct labour horticulturists who designed the parks and help in planting have been hired while 10 major contractors have been engaged in the process.
The Governor also said at all the parks and gardens, 5,000 plumbers have been hired to install all the water systems, ensuring the optimum functioning of the sprinklers, while another 6,256 electricians have got new jobs by maintaining the lights, the solar panels and power pumps at the various gardens.
He also said 12,512 bricklayers have also got new jobs to construct the concrete kerbs and interlocking blocks at the gardens in addition to 15,640 gardeners who work in the parks and gardens.
He explained that the tree planting initiative has also created new 2,496 jobs for those who paint the grill at the parks and gardens while another 14,686 welders have been gainfully engaged at the various parks.
Fashola also stated that in the period under review 2,500 labourers who ensured the clearing of sites were hired in addition to 2,176 security men who were responsible for securing the parks and that three consultants were hired by the state government to work on the parks and gardens.
He said in the process also 15 graphic artists were given jobs to design the signage and boards that dot the various Parks in addition to 10 sculptors who erected statutes and bust at some of the parks.
The Governor noted that the list of beneficiaries does not include people like suppliers of curtain materials, lawn mowers and trimmers who are all involved in the process, stressing that the people involved run businesses of theirs with many running sole enterprises.
He described the importance attached to the tree planting exercise as being very symptomatic of how important tree planting is to the state and the people as trees are responsible for bringing oxygen because without which everything comes to a halt.
He reiterated that tree planting is a strategic intervention that speaks eloquently of the commitment of the present administration in formulating policies and staying with them, adding that a trip round any part of the world would reveal that cities are all embarking on massive tree planting and greening programmes.
Fashola charged governments and people to take action and stop pretending because the threat of global warming and climate change is a serious matter, once described by former United States Vice President, Al Gore as "an inconvenient truth".
He expressed happiness that he is at the head of a government that is the first to take actions and creates Parks while ensuring that it also planted trees and create several gardens, adding that they are all consistent with the provisions of Goal Seven of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
He noted that despite the fact that he would be addressing the Tree Planting campaign event for the last time as the state governor this year, he has institutionalised the process such that it would continue with his party the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Earlier in his welcome address, the State Commissioner for Environment, Mr Tunji Bello said till date, Lagos has planted over five million trees and landscaped over 297 sites across the state.
He added that the regeneration programme has continued to attract local and international commendations which have now placed the state on a global map as a green city, ensuring that the state is regenerated from degradation to an aesthetically appealing environment.
"Sadly, the alarming growing destruction of our forest is of serious concern to us. Our forest cover is rapidly disappearing. The encroachment of forest land is due to the growing population and city expansion,” Bello said.
"As much as this is expected, we could not accept this trend as enough reasons to indiscriminately fell trees and destroy forests. We must all ensure that each time we cut trees, we quickly replace them with new ones so that the earth, can again, be replenished."
He re-emphasised that it is an offence in Lagos to fell trees without the permission of the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK), stating that government understands that development purposes may warrant felling trees or transplanting of trees, but that the government has arranged for that to be handled by experts.
In a goodwill message, the founder of Mental and Environmental Development Initiative for Children, Doyinsola Ogunye said one of the ways to mitigate the effects of climate change is for everyone to preach the message of recycling and reusing to protect trees.
The techniques of tree planting were demonstrated by Professor Musiliu Onilude while drama sketches were also presented by the pupils on how trees could be beneficial to the society.
Awards of recognition were presented to those who distinguished themselves in the course of the year in tree planting in the state.
The governor later performed the tree planting exercise along with other notable dignitaries at the event including Head of Service, Mrs Oluseyi Williams, the Olumegbon of Lagos, Chief Fatai Lawal, Chairman of Eti Osa East Local Council Development Area, Chief Yisa Owolabi and several other guests.