The Nigeria National Park Service has called on the Federal Government to develop the nation’s parks to boost eco-tourism as additional source of government revenue.
Its Conservator-General, Dr Ibrahim Goni, made the call during the ‘Naija Seven Wonder’ webinar meeting with the theme: “Eco-tourism in Nigeria with the National Park Service” on Sunday.
Goni, who was represented by Assistant Conservator-General, Yakubu Kolo said that government needed to further invest in the seven National Parks across the country to attract tourists.
He explained that the National Park played immense roles in medicine, research, education, agriculture, tourism and spiritualism, which “are critical components in the achievement of the sustainable development goals’’.
Goni urged the government to step up efforts toward improving security as well as ensuring good road networks inside and outside the parks.
According to him, these would help in reshaping the national parks to attract tourists.
“The national parks are open for private sector participation, especially through the partial commercialisation programme of the federal government.
“Spirited individuals and organisations can also come to the aid of the national park services by donating projects and programmes that will foster conservation and eco-tourism.
“All these require improved funding; we want the federal government to look into this,’’ he said.
According to Goni, there are seven national parks, covering a total land area of 22,000km² and representing about three per cent of the country’s total land mass.
The conservator-general gave the statistics of tourists’ influx into the various national parks.
According to him, 8,111 visitors were recorded in 10,371 in 2018 and 11,487 in 2019.
He attributed the low patronage the security challenges in the country.
On revenue generation, he said N26.95 million was generated in 2017, N60.39 million in 2018 and N41.32 million in 2019.
Goni said that the parks were capable of generating more if the security challenges were subdued and the parks better funded.
“We have been confronted with series of challenges like insecurity; poor park infrastructures; absence of private sector involvement; poor domestic tourism, poor communication facilities in parks and inadequate manpower among others.’’
He called on the federal government to come to the aid of the service by addressing these challenges “so that we can be better productive and efficient in service delivery’’.
He listed the national parks to include the Chad Basin National park located between Borno and Yobe; Cross River National Park; Gashaka Gumti National Park situated between Adamawa and Taraba.
Others are Kainji Lake National Park located between Niger and Kwara; Old Oyo National Park in Oyo State; Kumuku National Park in Kaduna State and Okomu National Park located in Edo.