An investigative Report by Samuel Chijioke Okorie, Climate Journalist.
Since the dawn of human history, human has been at war with nature till date which has led to many degraded land, herders and farmers conflict, low or poor harvest and water scarcity.
A major form of land degradation common in Nigeria is as soil pollution from company’s activities such as oil spillage common in the southern region of the country, over grazing by pastoralists in the Northern region, which has given rise to unprecedented migration of pastoralist in search of food for their cattle, resulting to many violent conflict between farmers and herders, communal clash and banditry; and logging which is highly practiced majorly in the western and southern region of the Nigeria.
This practice has cleared about 60% of the country’s forest and natural habitation rich in biodiversity Hotspot.
Nigerian Dry Land has played a crucial role in food production for the country and other African countries, which contributed about 45% of the country’s GDP from 2011 to 2015. Today,
Nigeria’s GDP from the agricultural sector is less than 21% ((Nigerian Economic Chart Park)
and may drop to 10% by 2030. According to a virtual interview question asked by Samuel C.
Okorie (A climate journalist) to Hon Samuel Onuigbo, a member of Nigerian House of
Representatives and the immediate past Chairman for Committee on Climate change, gathered that Nigeria loses 350 to 400 hectares of land which is about 3.500000 Square Kilometers (km²) to 4.000000 Square Kilometers (km²) to land degradation as a result of deforestation, logging, over grazing and unsustainable agricultural practices and land use by community members, farmers, and companies which may extend to 1,000 to 1,500 hectares by 2030 if no restoration plan is put in place with immediate effect, losing most of our dry land. According to Hon. Samuel Onuigbo “Mangrove forest in Niger Delta is almost wiped out with little possibility of recovery because of the soil condition” affecting the livelihood of the people, giving rise to land degradation, food scarcity, community violent conflict, migration and land pollution.
This report maintains the assertion of the article on “Land Cover Dynamics and Mangrove Degradation in the Niger Delta Region” written by Iliya Ishaku Nababa and Co (2020), according to their report, more than 220 oil spills and 17 billion cubic meters of gas flares annually in this region together with the impacts of the human population explosion, have led to the degradation of the Niger
This is already evident in the cost of food in the country, influenced by food scarcity due to land degradation. For Instance, according to a market survey carried out by carried out by Samuel C. Okorie; in 2015, the cost for a bag of rice in Nigeria was sold from 8,000 to 10,000 naira and in 2021, there is a rise in cost from 26,000 to 34,000 naira with about 250% increase in cost and may rise up to 300% increase by 2022.
The Western and Southern region of Nigeria has undergone series of severe threat from the
activities of loggers, leading to loss of many rich biodiversity hotspot in the region, erosion of farm crops, flood, low food production and even loss of lives and properties.
The case of land degradation in Cross River State of Nigeria, could be seen as an intentional
approach of man’s action to expose dry-land to rapid degradation through series of logging
especially in the Northern region of Cross River State where logging activity is carried out as
source of livelihood by a Get-Rich-Quick mentality for a particular group of people, imposing threat to life and insecurity to the community members.
During an interview Samuel C. Okorie had with some of the residents of this area, they lamented on how their lands were been forcefully taken from them by these loggers and also how the logging activity has affected their farmlands and food harvest, According to them, these agro-trees which is been hunted by loggers, protects their food and cash crops from heat wave, direct contact from hot sun, strong wind, high temperature, flood, heavy down pour of rain, erosion and likewise supplies the soil with good micro and biological nutrient to promote crop growth.
A major stakeholder in the community during the interview said “I know how many of my boys that have lost their lives and some sustained severe injury while trying to resist the loggers who often come with trucks, tree cutting tools and armed security officers to cut our trees”.
Another respondent during the interview expressed his deep concern for the forest which to him is symbolic to the peoples historical existence, a cultural heritage form their ancestors, and a home for thousands of wild living species, may go into extinction soon.
It became even more clear that farmers no longer go to farm due to the intensive logging activity carried out by a particular group of people who pose as threats and insecurity to the community as they have made it unable for farmers to go to farm and also stand as an opposition to anyone that comes in-between their way which in most cases has led to loss of lives and injuries.
Carrying out further investigation, the journalist (Samuel C. Okorie) discovered that security officers of the state are aware of this act with no responsive approach to stop it, this was made known to the Mr. Samuel C. Okorie during a discussion he had with a conservationist.
He said “even the security personnel are not showing any concern to this logging, I have reported this logging activity to some security personnel and their response has always been; I would need to get an official letter from the governor with his signature mandating them to persecute those who are engage in logging activity in the state and advice the community to desist from it.
Until the governor issues a warrant to this effect, we cannot do anything from our own end to stop the loggers from carrying out their activities” Mr Owan Emmanuel.
Another report Samuel C. Okorie gathered from a from a local media states that “a day, about 49 trucks carries timber out of the forest of Obubura Local Government Area of Cross River which to according to the reporter (whose name is undisclosed) is carried out on a small scale compared to what is happening in Boki Local Government of Cross River State, Nigeria.
Our dry land which makes 80% of the country’s forest with rich ecosystem conserved for years, is currently on serious threat in the hands of loggers, due to greed and means of enriching themselves without considering the present and future dangers this may cause.
May 2021, during a media forest tour with the governor of Cross River State, the governor of the state said 60% of the state’s forest is still well reserved, and yet, in same state there is huge daily logging activity on going in major places like Boki, Akamkpa, Biase, Obubura, Obanliku and Obudu LGAs of Cross River State, Nigeria.
While carrying out my further investigation into this Ecocide, Samuel C. Okorie found out that those who try to stop these loggers are often exposed to strong resistance with life threats and sometimes, lives are lost or they are beaten to the point of death. Furthermore, some security officers and community heads also play a paramount role to facilitate logging in their communities which according to state governor, he is unaware of the incensement logging activity going on in the state and has promised to put an end to him.
There is an urgent need and call to carry out further investigation in these areas and also bring to light most of these hidden activities of loggers which would serve as a limelight to solving the menace of logging in these location and likewise, facilitate restoration of degraded dry lands and conservation with 80% possibility of peace building, and high food productivity in these region.
In recommendation, as part of the solution to tackle land degradation, community members need to be educated on the dangers of deforestation which has contributed greatly to land degradation and low food supply in the country.
The Use of community indigenes to address land restoration should be adopted, empowerment of local leaders and community members on the need to revamp their land and need for reforestation and at the same time advocating for tree planting and sustainable environmental practices should be adopted as well, which I have commenced already with some group of people. Borrowing from the words of Tony Rinaudo “empowering communities is one of the basic necessary tool needed to facilitate dry land restoration because they are custodians of the land and also, empowerment is an antidote to reverse community’s negative involvement towards dry land. Let us re-green our Mindscape-Tony Rinaudo GLFAfrica 2021.
Samuel Chijioke Okorie
Fellow, Global Land scape Forum Africa (GLFAfrica) 2021,
Climate Tracker Fellow and Journalist.
This investigation was carried out by Samuel C. Okorie with direct contact to the respondents. Only primary data was used in this report.
All right reserved by the journalist, Samuel C. Okorie, © 2021.