Unknown to many Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari, has re-written the narratives about the Nigerian protected areas value chain, when he inaugurated additional 10 new parks across the country.
The refreshing initiative which got thumbs up from global conservation community, however like issues concerning environment and natural resources conservation, was celebrated as a national frontier of development.
Indeed, the development is unarguably the best futuristic socio-political and economic stimulus growth effort in the history of Nigerian development.
Today is not a day to appraise these developments but to underscore the impact of the new protected areas to state governments where they are located.
Over years, there have been unheeded outcry over systemic disappearance of the once flourishing presence of local and state governments forest ecosystem and the consequent negative impact on our people and their way of life particularly in the areas of sustainable agriculture and underground water resources management.
From Sokoto to Calabar h, Owerri to Kebbi, Nigeria at the invent of oil, threw the gains of biodiversity to the winds, and in some if not all the states of the federation, local government hold bay on forest reserves ditto that of the states, became destination for bricks and mortars, a sad feature of climate change and its dread on man and beats.
Significantly, the President signature reversal of the dead environmental tunnel to which we ignorantly badged ourselves, restored hope and faith to getting federating states to support the dream effort.
And sequel to legislative process and engagement, President Buhari further approved a takeoff grant of N500 million to see the effective take off the Parks, initiative support zone education and awareness, to wit, get the strategic buy in of the concerned state governors.
Yes, in 30 years of Nigeria protected areas efforts, we won’t be tired of scaling up this cheering positives for nature management, as most profound.
We shall not also forget to consistent and relentless effort of Ibrahim Goni, and his team at the Nigeria Park Service(NPS) for making this dream happen. Sharon Ikpeazu, a Lawyer and Developmental Specialist as Minister of State, Environment, must be counted for the turnaroun fortunes of the additional influencers on the conservation map of Nigeria.
And a not recent visit to Osun state Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, who rolled out red carpet to welcome Ibrahim Goni, the Conservator General of the federation and his team, reaffirmed and reassured of the readiness of most beneficial states to bridge quick validation of the Parks
Osun State has Oba Hills National Park, a fusion of rainforest with table top topographic catchment frontiers, expected to sanitise unbridled environmental degradation driven by human exploitation.
Osun State Honourable Commissioner for Environment, Honourable Sola Oladipo, who was at the forefront of Osun State ranking as destination for protected area, led the Conservator General to engage Governor Oyetola, who rolled out red carpets with the full executive council presence, to assure that his state, will provide all necessary support to ensure Oba Hill in no distant future, will be reckoned with as a critical player in climate mate management and ecological tourism
Governor Oyetola also was full of praise to President Buhari, for changing the national conservation landscape and for counting Osun State, worthy to carry one of the flags of the 10 new parks in the country.
To hit the ground running and to breathe life into these Parks, Ibrahim Goni, and his team also visited Nasarawa and Jigawa States, where similar expressions and intents were articulated to breed new horizons for the Parks, located in those states
Nasarawa Governor Abdullahi Sule, appreciated President Buhari for the upgrading of the Marhai Forest reserve to a national Park, adding that the presence of the green enclave will add to the tourism value of Farin Ruwa waterfalls in the state.
His Jigawa counterpart who hosted the Conservator General, Alhaji Ibrahim Goni, in his Abuja governor’s liaison office, expressed same sentiments and appreciation for the upgrading of the Jigawa Hadija wetlands to a National Park, the first on the West of Africa and in Nigeria.
Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar assured of giving the new park all the enabling environment to flourish.
In the emerging conservation circle, it is believed and seen that the presence and actualisation of the 10 new parks under the watch of Ibrahim Goni and his team, is the biggest checklist achievement in the history of natural resources conservation in Nigeria. Unarguably, the feat by Goni Ibrahim remain an intercontinental profile identify and mileage for conservation as no African nation have at a one swoop, inaugurated and funded 10 new parks.
•Frank Meke, a Media and Tourism Consultant writes from Lagos