By Shuaibu Usman
In the heart of Nigeria’s northeastern region, lies the fascinating terrain of Gombe State, amicably dubbed Jewel in the Savannah. Marked by its well-rounded hills and verdant landscapes, its beauty has been unfortunately marred by the harsh hand of environmental degradation. The constant adversary has been deforestation and desert encroachment.
The reality heralded a pressing need for change; a cry that has been answered by the state governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya. Experts had uncovered that desert encroachment was moving at an alarming speed of 600 metres per annum in Gombe State. The menace was said to have claimed over 12 kilometers of land across the state in decades before 2019.
On Monday, July 15th 2019, barely two months after he assumed office, as the governor of Gombe state, Governor Yahaya who appeared to have had the prior knowledge of the endemic situation of land degradation, setup mechanism to arrest the menace for the betterment of all including animals and other creatures around the state.
The governor’s passion for restoring the lost glory of the soil and preserving the environment as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change, engineered the development of his audacious initiatives of the tree planting campaign which was christened, Gombe Goes Green (3G) project. Through the campaign Governor Yahaya continued to display an unrelenting resolve to restore Gombe’s naturally exquisite environment and the campaign has so far proved a promising solution to the State’s environmental issues.
In its inception, the campaign aimed to planting four million trees in four years, which was a formidable task indeed considering the enormous challenges, economy hardships and financial stressed Gombe that the Governor Yahaya’s administration inherited. Yet, demonstrating his unwavering resilience and mindful of the urgency of combating climate change, deforestation and other environmental issues, Governor Yahaya leaped into action.
Supported by an indefatigable team of local and foreign stakeholders, community leaders, and enthusiastic citizens, the campaign initiated a comprehensive strategy for the act of planting trees. Thousands of seedlings, sourced from nurseries within and outside the state, were distributed to local communities throughout the state. In a splendid display of unity and communal synchronization, myriad hands reached out to partake in the campaign.
The project rapidly started making a discernible impact. Just within the first year of its operation, over 1.3 million trees had been planted, a staggering measure of its success that rapidly escalated the initial projection. While the state government in collaboration with a World Bank assisted project on Youth Employment and Social Support Operation employed 27,000 women and youths to nurture trees planted, an air of hope was breathed into the local communities as individuals and families volunteer and took beloved ownership of their newly planted trees.
To guarantee the sustainability of the Governor Yahaya’s campaign on tree planting, measures were put in place to ensure that the newly planted saplings would grow and thrive. The youths employed were trained and spread across the state with the needed tools to enforce the necessity of tree care including watering, mulching, and checks for pests and diseases.
The Governor’s tree-planting campaign, has shown considerable promise. With each passing season, as trees begin to grow and flourish, the prospects for a greener, healthier Gombe continue to materialize. Nowhere is this truer than in the state capital, Gombe City, and its surrounding areas where blotted landscapes are beginning to boast of young, growing trees.
However, the campaign’s success is not just confined to the physical manifestation of the trees. It has sown an unparalleled sense of environmental responsibility among the people of Gombe. It has fostered communal unity, given voice to collective action, and instilled an enduring legacy of care toward the state’s environmental heritage.
The progress of the tree-planting campaign under Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya’s leadership has been nothing short of inspiring. It is an affirming testament to his dedication to battling deforestation, environmental degradation, and climate change. Amidst the ongoing journey, one evident thing is that Gombe is well on its way to reclaiming its mantle as the Jewel in the Savannah.
The tree planting campaign spearheaded by Governor Yahaya is a perfect embodiment of the Nigerian adage that says, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” Indeed, the tangible success and the sustainable vision reflected in this endeavour prove that Gombe State’s future generations will inherit a land notably greener and healthier than before.
With each successful tree planting season, the horizon of Gombe State shifts, moving away from a barren landscape and towards a verdant serenity that harmonizes with its pioneering spirit. Governor Yahaya’s leadership, combined with the collective efforts of the supportive citizens, reinforces an unforgettable narrative that Gombe’s environmental restoration is a triumphant rallying call to other Nigerian states to embrace sustainable environmental practices as well.