Alhaji Ibrahim Jibril, the Minister of State for Environment, has called on Nigerians to look inward to appreciate and patronise the natural resources and priceless heritage that abound in the country.
Jibril made the call at the inauguration of the 10-man Local Organising Committee (LOC) for Africa Nature Investments (ANI) Foundation in Abuja on Monday.
He said that the committee was inaugurated to drive the implementation of the partnership between the National Parks Service and the Africa Nature Investors for the provision of technical and financial support for conservation activities in Gashaka Gumti National Park, situated between Taraba and Adamawa states.
“The partnership is in tandem with the present government’s determination to develop the economy through tourism by turning the country into a major destination for tourism and investment in Africa.
“Nigerians travel abroad and spend money to watch different kinds of animals but in Nigeria, these same animals are seen as bush meat for delicacies.
“I want to see a situation where we visit our parks for holidays and recreation to enjoy the natural resources that God has endowed the country with,’’ he said.
The minister said that the role of public private partnership in conservation could not be over emphasised, particularly with the deficit in infrastructural facilities.
According to him, equally important is the technical and financial support in the area of conservation, research and tourism activities in the protected areas.
He, however, advised the committee to ensure that their roles and responsibilities as members do not contravene the provisions of the enabling act of the National Parks Service and other extant laws of the government.
He thanked the management of Africa Nature Investors for the pacesetting innovation and called on other conservation based-NGOs to join hands with government in the ownership and management of infrastructure utilities.
Alhaji Ibrahim Goni, the Conservator-General, the National Parks Service, who inaugurated the 10-man committee, said the members were drawn from National Parks Service, Africa Nature Investors and a representative of the local community of Gashaka Gumti National Park.
“This will serve as catalyst to protect critical ecosystems of Nigeria’s wilderness areas,’’ he said.
Responding, Mr Tunde Morakinyo, one of the Directors of Africa Nature Investors (ANI) said that the LOC was the first of its kind in Nigeria in the area of conservation.
“It indicates a new direction for the management of the national parks in the country based on a partnership between the Federal Government, NGOs and the private sector.
“It also demonstrates that private sector led investments can protect these places and provide development benefit to local communities and the country at large,’’ he said.
Morakinyo said that ANI would work closely with the parks authority and two other international conservation NGOs who would bring some of the best technical expertise in Africa to the management of the parks.
“The LOC will focus on securing the parks by strengthening the park rangers and develop job creation initiatives for the local communities.
“The aim is to make Gashaka Gumti National Park an internationally famous destination that generates finance for stakeholders as well as make it a place that Nigerians can be proud of as part of their national heritage,’’ he said.