Delta State leads the way in environmental conservation efforts

Governor Sheriff Oborevwori and Serendib Capital UK boss, Mr. Rafat Rizvi, on the occasion 

In a groundbreaking move, Delta State has become the pioneer in Nigeria by endorsing the restoration of its mangrove forests, protecting seagrasses, and conserving the entire ecosystem for sustainable development. 

The state made history by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Serendib Capital UK, which will oversee the restoration and preservation of the state's mangrove forests and their surrounding environment. 

This significant step was taken during an event held at Government House, Asaba, on February 28th, 2024. By taking such proactive measures, Delta State is setting an example for other states in the country to follow suit and prioritize environmental sustainability.

Speaking shortly after the signing ceremony, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori commended all stakeholders for their visionary approach and unwielding commitment to shaping a more sustainable environment for current and future generations. 

He said: "The memorandum of understanding we just signed is very critical to the restoration and preservation of our mangrove forests and the entire ecosystem. 

"Not only does this initiative prioritise environmental sustainability but also ensures local demands for job creation, infrastructural development, education and climate resilience structures. 

"By dedicating these critical elements into the conservation effort, we are not only safeguarding our natural heritage, but also fostering social economy and enhancing our communities’ resilience to cope with changes that comes with climate change and deforestation on sustainable basis. 

"This programme sets a remarkable precedent by demonstrating how environmental stewardship can harmoniously coexist with human development aspirations. 

"I am deeply committed to environmental conservation and sustainable development and therefore I endorse the ground breaking for mangrove and seagrass conservation project." 

He expressed gratitude to the foreign partners for choosing Delta State as a potential investment destination.

Continuing, he said: "We are committed to building a much more beneficial partnership that will boost economic growth and enhance the potentials of our people. 

"We assure you of our unwavering support and cooperation as you exploit the possibilities that our state have to offer." 

Earlier in his remarks, Managing Director of Serendib Capital UK, Mr. Rafat Rizvi, thanked the State Government for the partnership, assuring that the project would restore the ecosystem previously damaged by crude oil degradation. 

"What this means for Delta State is a long term solution, say thirty to fourty years solution to a sustainable environment. One in which there will be a significant amount of job creation, education with emphasis on youth development. 

"This is something that His Excellency, the Governor has expressed strong desire to see, as well as other members of the cabinet that has been working closely with us. 

"First and foremost, it's benefit will be on the environment but most importantly, education, jobs and prosperity for the longer term, particularly for the younger people. 

"It’s not just the function of oil production. As far as the Niger Delta is concerned, our intention is to help stop further degradation and see if we can actually push back and have much more further replanting of sustainable plants. 

"None of this can happen without the buying in of the local communities. We are very conscious that this will have to take place with their support. The reversal of some of the significant degradation that has taken place is what we are sent here to do. 

"From the programmes we will put in place, there will be significant amount of credits and money will drop back in very significant amount to the local area and that means that in carrying out those programmes, day to day jobs will be created. 

"It is important that people in the area see and understand this thing so that we are not seen as another bunch of foreigners coming in to exploit them and going away. 

"The project covers a very large land mass, about 250,0000 hectares of land. Surely, we are looking for a very significant involvement of the local population. 

"We are not here to change the ways the locals have lived for hundreds of years, we are here to help preserve the environment; to work with them as partners so that they will have no reason to leave the environment. We will be starting this project in March, that's about two weeks time." 

In his goodwill message, Vice Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Environment, Hon. Terseer Ugbor, congratulated Delta State Government for taking the lead in the conservation project and expressed commitment of the House to the project. 

"It is a great day for Conservation Nigeria because this is the first of its kind for conservation and environmental sustainability in Nigeria. 

"It's also a great day for us in the National Assembly because just yesterday, we passed for first reading, the Bill on the conservation and protection of endangered species in Nigeria."
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