(Opinion) Marhai, The Seed Of Nigeria’s New Effort On Ecotourism By Frank Meke

 

 

 

* Gov Abdullahi Sule in a hand shake with ACG George Okeyoyin

 

Marhai, National Park in the heart of sleepy Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State is testament of courage and faith in Nigeria quest to fully husband its vast but often neglected biosphere and environmental advantages.

If the United States alone has over 400 protected areas and still counting in last quarter of a century or more, Nigeria’s newest protected enclaves, born out of global desire to check climate change and right the expectations of International Union Conservation of Nature(IUCN), certainly benchmarks our strong desire to be counted as responsive to managing natural resources strategically.

Tuesday last week, Governor Abdullahi Sule, an engineer and economic resources developmental specialist, presided over the inauguration of a takeoff committee, for the Marhai National Park, located in the state, with the state Commissioner for Environment, Kwanta Yakubu, leading the team.

George Okeyoyin ( PHD) the Acting Conservative General of National Park Service, Nigeria who led  a high-powered Federal Government delegation to rub minds with Governor Abdullahi Sule on counterpart funding and logistics for immediate  take off the Park, commended the governor for the speed to bring life to the Marhai initiative.

Kwanta Yakubu, the face behind the Marhai National Park, was overjoyed with his governor’s commitment and support, unarguably the happiest fellow on that Tuesday afternoon in Lafia, the state capital where lovers of the new dream and stake holders support zones community leader basked in euphoria.

ACG George Okeyoyin. Kwanta Yakubu, the commissioner for environment and Frank Meke at the presentation of shirts and caps of marhai national park.

I had done one of the most challenging whistle visit to capture this engagement, with a first flight out of Lagos, arriving Abuja enroute to Lafia, a blistering race to Lafia, missing the inauguration in seconds but fortunate to share a meet with Governor Sule and the Federal government delegation, who were anxious about my not making the epoch event.

Handshakes over and being introduced to governor by ACG, George Okeyoyin, a short and eventful stopover at office of the commissioner for environment, began another feature of the making of Marhai National Park.

I had met the District Head of Marhai, Luka Meshack, an encounter signposting the love and excitement of the people about the project. The five support zones communities for the green and water fall resource, are Marhai,  Massange, Andohor, Turkwan and  Jashi.

With the presentation of Marhai corporate and branded face caps and shirts to commissioner for distribution to the communities over, another race to the site, about one and half hours from Lafia, ensured.

And accompanied by the youth leader of the Marhai community, Mr. Dozen, we breached the yet invisible marked frontiers of the Park in the heart of Wamba serene sub city ecology.

Let me explain that the famous Farin Ruwa Falls form the fulcrum of the new Park, clearly spelling out how the spectacular waterfall in the heart of Nasarawa State, will henceforth be addressed.

Don’t come with high expectations yet as the biosphere is still virgin, rural and marked with any luxury adventure appointment. It is a work about to begin but the owner, the people are beginning to count their gains in employment as rangers and as tour guides.

The splashing lips of Farin Ruwa is still very active, cascading tons of clean water from its Olympian heights, watering farm lands, gushing streams for the communities and providing natural aquarium for fisheries.

Surely, the future holds of exportable Farin Ruwa waters, extracted from the hallowed rock Chambers of Farin Ruwa, a great brand mileage for Marhai National Park.

Another great export from the Marhai enclaves are the rich presence   of red palm oil, though possible outside marked green areas of the Park and in competition with Okomu oil, extracted outside the famous white throated monkeys biosphere of Okomu National Park in Edo state.

My interactions with Marhai youths was interesting and it seems, my job is well cut out, a time out well worth the love of a lifetime to be counted as one of the signatures to the effectual take off the ten new parks across the country with Marhai National Park, counted as number one.

 

Frank Meke, a Media and Tourism Consultant writes from Lagos.

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