The Nigeria National Park Service has called for media collaborations to sensitise Nigerians on the need to patronise Nigerian parks and conversations to cutdown revenue flights outside the country.
The Conservator-General, Dr Ibrahim Goni, made the call on Tuesday in Lagos during a media tour to Television Continental Communications (TVC) and Channels Television.
Dr. Goni told pressmen that Nigerians were yet to appreciate the importance of these protected areas and their contributions to the mitigation of climate change, security, well-being of citizens and the nation’s economy.
The Conservator-General said that Nigerians were building other economies with Africa and beyond when they visit their national parks instead of domesticating the money within.
“The service has produced several information materials to enhance the publicity of parks and has realised the need to collaborate and partner with the media to achieve this objective.
“It is in the pursuit of this that we are here today to seek for your collaboration and partnership towards the promotion of National parks in Nigeria.
“We believe that by collaborating with the media, Nigerians will be adequately sensitised and educated on the importance of National Parks to national security,climate change, mitigation, boost tourism of our national parks, generate the much need foreign exchange in line with the Economic Recovery Growth plan of President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration.
Goni, however, highlighted the challenges facing the promotion of the country’s national parks which included; illegal activities within the parks (poaching, logging, encroachment and grazing).
Also, armed banditry and insurgency in and around the parks; poor quality of tourism infrastructure; lack of zeal of Nigerians for leisure and tourism; poor road network to the parks as well as inadequate number of modern operational equipment.
Goni hoped that patronage at the seven (7) national parks managed by the service across the country would increase thereby increasing its contributions to the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
He said that of the 6.7 percent forest cover of the country, the seven National Parks account for a total of 22,206sqkm conservation area which is about three percent of the total land mass of the country (923,763sqkm).
The seven National Parks, which include Chad Basin National Park of 2,258sqkm; Cross River National Park of 4,000sqkm; Gashaka Gumti National Park of 6,732sqkm; Kainji Lake National Park of 5,382sqkm; Old Oyo National Park 2,512sqkm; Okomu National Park of 202sqkm and Kamuku National Park of 1,121sqkm.
Goni said that the service also play roles in medicine, research, education, agriculture, tourism, spiritualism and are critical components in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 7 (affordable and clean energy) and 13 (climate change).
He, however, revealed that the service provides security for countryside dwellers because the parks were located in the countryside.
The TVC representative, Mr Uzonna Ononye on behalf of the media outfit said that the management was ready to collaborate with the service to push the interest of the country as Nigerians hardly appreciated what they had.
He said the National Park could become a huge revenue source if proper mechanism were put in place.