The National Coordinator of Coalition of Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Dr Odigha Odigha, on Friday said the coalition was working to ensure that the Cross River forests remained intact.
Odigha told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the NGOs would not leave any stone un-turned to ensure that the forests were preserved.
According to him, it is only the Cross River State forests that was still qualified to give the nation the desired earnings from carbon emissions.
NAN reports that the Cross River State Government in February 2017 threatened to begin construction work on the Super Highway, without approval from the Federal Government.
Gov. Ben Ayade had earlier said the Cross River National Park had become an evil forest and that the old trees could no longer absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and were drying up.
“The Environmental NGOs have worked hard in trying to meet the United Nation’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) requirement.
“We have scaled the major hurdles and expecting that soon, we will qualify for the earnings and now this issue of the Super Highway.
“The way the Super Highway is planned as we have continuously shown will set the nation back to square one.
“As l speak, the nation’s forests cover is just 5 per cent from almost 80 per cent in the ‘70s.
“If we are careless and fail to do anything now, the whole country will regret this in future.
“The NGOs are just fighting for the future of this country as a whole and for the sake of the environment,’’ he said.
Odigha said that the communities already knew the danger such development would cause and what they stood to lose if such a highway was allowed to destroy their entire natural resources.
He said that the NGOs were continually mobilising the communities and enlightening them on the forest rich resource and how they were to benefit from them.
Odigha said that the coalition had taken very seriously the Cross River State Government threat to start construction of the super highway, without approval.
He said the NGOs were doing everything within its power to ensure the forest was not tampered with.
“There is still a directive of the Federal Ministry of Environment that work should stop at the site.
“If the state government start work before the ministry’s approval, it will be acting against the law,’’ he said.
NAN reports that Ayade said that the forest where the Super highway would pass was no longer adding any value.
The super highway is planned to be 12-lanes, 260 km (162 miles) long, which will link a proposed deep seaport from Bakassi on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, to the border with neighbouring Benue State. (NAN)