Ecotourism in Nigeria is set to receive a boost as the National Park Service (NPS) has concluded plans to promote the sector with strategic partnership with relevant stakeholders.
This was disclosed in Abuja at a press conference by the Conservator-General of the service, Dr. Ibrahim Goni.
He said the agency was planning to achieve this through a robust capacity building of its officers’ to undergo study tours to review more structures of other countries such as Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, Cameroon, Rwanda, Gabon among others.
Goni said” This is to enhance the capacity of the service and the community, so as to efficiently and effectively deliver on the mandate of the service”.
“Training and re-training of the officers is key to achieving success in the implementation of the service mandate.
“Therefore manpower development as a human capital function is responsible for developing the skills, knowledge and competence of the service”.
He further express the concern of limited resources available to service but quickly affirm that the service will work with relevant stakeholders to establish a process through which officers , including, Park Support Zone Communities(SZC’s) be trained.
In partnership with relevant stakeholder, Goni said the service will experience strong capacity building through workshops, seminars and conferences to improve tourist infrastructures such as Eco-Chalets, tracks and so on.
Reiterating the major objective of the National Park been the provision of recreation, the conservator- General added that the potentials of recreation in all designated park in Nigeria were very high and urged the hosting community to own the park in their domain and stop seeing it as government property.
National parks been a strategic security assets is increasingly becoming pronounced owing to recent insecurity envisaged in the country especially been a shelter for terrorist and bandits when not designated or manned.
Addressing the issue of security, the service boss said local and traditional institutions that habour strangers in their domains threaten the security of life and property.
He also pointed to the issue of rangers, herdsmen and farmer conflicts and illegal settlements or enclaves within the parks as major challenges negating the conservation effort.
However, according to him, he said the service is planning to constitute a functional local advisory committee in each of the unit parks as well as embarking on community outreach program targeted at Park Support Zone Communities.
The program, he said, will focus on the provision of education and training opportunities for all ages and gender of the SCZ members.
In his words, “the strategy requires the involvement of park’s SCZ in the co-management of the park resources and initiating a non-violence conflict resolution mechanism”.
Recently, It will be recall that Nigeria President, Mohammadu Buhari approved an additional ten National Parks bringing the total number of National Parks in the country to Seventeen.