Nigeria’s bid to gradually reverse the impact of climate change by planting millions of trees has suffered a major setback after a government-funded afforestation programme worth over N30 million failed less than three years after the project was completed, PREMIUM TIMES has found.
The government said it spent N30.4 million from its historic Green Bond initiative to plant six million trees in Oyo State, but PREMIUM TIMES found just a few hundreds of trees during a recent visit.
Officials said the trees died as a result of drought and other factors and that remedial efforts were underway. But the finding has alarmed environmental activists and ecological experts who questioned the planning and execution of the project.
“The field visit shows very clearly a project executed in the usual fashion of lack of transparency and accountability that has tailed most national projects,” said Enoabasi Anwana, a senior ecologist at the University of Uyo, who conducted a qualitative analysis of the project.
In 2017 and 2019, Nigeria issued two “green bonds” worth N10.69 billion and N15 billion respectively, becoming the first African country and the fourth in the world to raise a debt instrument entirely for the purpose of financing sustainable environmental projects.
The objective of the bond was to fast track Nigeria’s low carbon development pledges as enshrined in the Nationally Determined Contribution document submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
It offered the country an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in its green financing agenda, while giving exposure to new investors and solidifying the country’s commitment to the Paris Climate Change Agreement which was endorsed in 2015.
One of the several projects funded from the proceeds of the bonds was the restoration of degraded areas in old national park in Oyo State.
According to the Department of Climate Change (DCC) at the Federal Ministry of Environment, N30.4 million was earmarked for the restoration of the degraded areas in Old Oyo National Park.
Billboard showing crops planted at Igbeti
Billboard showing crops planted at Alaguntan communities
Observations and limitations of the project
Of the six million trees reported, this newspaper counted less just a few hundreds of trees standing. Most of the trees did not survive, officials said.
Interestingly too, the project areas at Igbeti and Alaguntan now grow crops such as cassava, soybeans and maize plants as well as yam.
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