Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma has assured that he will recover all designated Federal Forest reserves in the State and create a special Bureau for Wildlife and habitat conservation for diligent policy implementation.
The Governor who spoke during 2020 World Wildlife Day, held at the Ahiajoku Convention Centre, Owerri, thanked the United Nations and other international and National Stakeholders who are initiators of the project for choosing Imo as the host State.
Governor Uzodimma stated that the World Wildlife celebration which is on its 7th edition, presents us with the cogent challenge of a sober soul search on how we have related with, preserved or destroyed nature in our life time. He noted further: “Today’s celebration fast tracks the question boldly and loudly to the fore of the inner recess of our consciences, both as individuas and as leaders of our respective nations and organizations, to wit: In our life time have we added value to the preservation of the natural habitat, biodiversity or the wildlife we met on earth, or have we helped to ravage, deplete or destroy it? My candid take is that we are all guilty of not doing enough to preserve the natural habitat we met.”
Governor Uzodimma pointed that “through our actions and inactions, the conservation of our national biogenetic pools today has direct impact on our generation and the future generations.”
He recalled that it is a common knowledge that our forefathers in Africa used natural herbs from the ecosystem to cure the diseases that afflicted them in their time.
“Even today, most of the modern medicines are derived from herbs and roots and if humanity continues to recklessly abuse our ecosystem, what then is the way forward for the world, and Nigeria,” he asked.
Going forward, Governor Uzodimma advocates for a globally renewed drive to strengthen local and international legislations to protect wildlife and biodiversity, especially the endangered species. He called on the international community to raise the bar on public enlightenment against habitat degradation.
The Governor expressed dismay over the reality that virtually all wildlife facilities in the South East have been washed away by land speculators leaving only the Imo State Zoo and wildlife park that is currently living on a life support machine.
The Governor assured that urgent steps will be taken under his watch to remedy the situation, which includes: Reviewing the extant laws on wildlife and conservation, Aggressive enforcement of all conservation laws, Immediate steps to be taken to recover all government land meant for habitat conservation but illegally acquired by individuals, Immediate recovery of all designated federal forest reserves in the state with concrete steps taken to ward off further encroachment, Upgrade of Imo Zoo and wildlife park to international standards.
Finally, he pledged to create a Special Bureau for Wildlife and Habitat Conservation for diligent policy implementation.
Earlier, the Quest Lecturer, Prof. Samuel Oluwalana of the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta who spoke on the theme: “Sustaining All Life on Earth” harped on the economic importance of wildlife in medicine and noted that life can be conserved if our ecosystem is preserved.
He applauded the Imo State Government for ensuring that wildlife does not go into extinction, noting that the state can earn foreign exchange through export of grass cutter and its likes.
In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Sabina Onwuchi thanked the National Association of Zoological Garden and Wildlife Parks for their choice of Imo for 2020 wildlife life celebration.
She stated that wildlife which constitutes of animals, birds and insects that are in their natural habitat are nature’s gift to mankind, noting that their importance in sustaining the ecological balance of the earth cannot be over emphasized.
The event was graced by the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, Secretary to the Government Chief Cosmas Iwu, the Chief of Staff, Government House, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehi, Permanent Secretaries from both Federal and State Ministries among others.