Committee on commercialisation of Nigeria’s national parks holds inaugural meeting four years after set up, urged to position sector for economic growth
WorldStage Newsonline-- The Nigeria's Minister of Environment, Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia, has charged members of the steering committee on the commercialisation of Nigeria’s national parks to work assiduously to position the sector in order to contribute substantially to the national economy in line with the transformation agenda of the present administration.
The committee held its inaugural meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, July 31, 2012, four years after it was inaugurated by the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).
The Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Ms. Bolanle Onagoruwa, said at the meeting that all efforts to hold the inaugural meeting had proved abortive.
She listed the critical areas required to reform the sector in Nigeria as the need to have a national parks sector policy for the country; para-military status of park rangers; and urgent need to introduce critical infrastructure into and around the parks.
She noted that most of Nigeria’s eastern borders were traversed by the national parks which comprise Cross River, Gashaka Gumti and Chad Basin. “This exposes the park rangers to cross border vandals, poachers and bandits”, she added.
The Minister of Environment, chairman of the committee which has ten other members stated that the task before the committee was enormous.
She urged the members to study the report of the Working Group of the Steering Committee which contains an in-depth assessment of the parks.
The minister said that though the national parks were well endowed with natural resources, they are bedeviled with numerous challenges such as inadequate and poor infrastructure, land use conflicts, low capacity and security issues.
She urged the committee to consider limiting private sector involvement to the eco-tourism component while the “biodiversity aspect is left to the public sector as practiced in other parts of the world”.
The minister pointed out that membership of the steering committee “cuts across the relevant government agencies, non-governmental organisations and support zone communities” and was deliberately designed to articulate a National Parks Sector Policy that would ensure active participation of public sector in the sustainable management of the parks.