By JAMES EZEMA
The National Park Service is set to partner the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) for the development and promotion of ecotourism in Nigeria.
Dr Ibrahim Goni, the Conservator General, National Park Service disclosed this when the Director General of NTDC, Mr Folorunsho Coker paid him a visit at the park headquarters in Abuja.
Goni noted that the collaboration is towards uplifting and promoting the ecotourism potentials of the Service and for the diversification of the country’s economy.
“We have to re-emphasise the issue of positivity so that Nigerians can lead other African countries in tourism – ecotourism and domestic tourism.
“We are working to make Nigeria one of the best tourism destinations in the world, Nigerians should look inward at what we have and patronise our own’’.
Coker, in his response said that the growth of Nigeria is Pan-Nigeria and the growth of Africa is Pan-Africa.
“The rest of the world has a problem, Europe has a problem, America has a problem, and at least in the next five years I don’t see anybody really stretching their hand out to come and visit us or help us.
“But if Africans are helping Africans, Kenyans who have animals are exchanging livestock with Nigeria or South Africa, the Ethiopians who know how to fly planes are extending roots to Nigeria and vice versa, the days of Nigerians going to donate their money abroad, for me, is gone.
“If you want to make money from Nigeria, come and join us here, let’s make the money together, you can take part of your own away but leave our own here.
“If we don’t fix ourselves we become victims of our own negligence’’.
He said that countries around the world are categorically writing it into law banning cars that use petrol 2030 and that will definitely affect the prices of oil.
“It tells us quite clearly that even though oil is about 38 dollars to a barrel today, there is going to come a point well into the future that oil won’t be worth very much.
“Therefore, let’s start looking at alternatives that we have and in this sense, Nigeria is truly a rich country.
“Apart from the physical side of tourism attractions that you see, God has even blessed us beyond that in terms of what Nigeria is great for and known for’’.
The NTDC boss noted that the Service’s potentials, if properly exploited, will also help curb crime across the nation.
“Some crimes like banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling are called hunger crimes.
He said that in rural communities where national parks are, if people are gainfully employed, if they can eat and sustain their lives, could be tour guides or be involved in other ancillary services, and some of these crimes will be on the decline.
He applauded the Service for its collaboration with relevant agencies to ensure it meets global standards.
“Don’t be surprised that from our rich ecosystems and biodiversity, if our researchers dig deep, they will probably find a cure for corona virus lying in one of our trees or shrubs in one of the forests in our parks.
“We must pay attention to what we have,’’ Coker added.