The Minster of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, has canvassed for a clearly defined role for host communities in the proposed commercialization of the Country’s National Parks.
The Minister said this, when she received a delegation from the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), led by its Acting Director General, Dr. Vincent Onome Akpotaire, which paid her a visit to brief her on the planned commercialization of the seven National Parks in the country. The National Parks are; Kamuku, Kainji lake, Okomu, Cross River, Old Oyo, Chad Basin and Gashaka Gumti.
The Minister also urged the Bureau to focus attention on commercializing three out of the seven parks at the first instance.
Mrs. Mohammed, who acknowledged the efforts to reposition the National Parks as contained in the National Parks Policy document presented by the BPE, said this would provide a long-term plan on which successive administration would build on. She said though “privatisation and commercialisation may not totally get rid of issue of corruption; it brings about good governance structure.”
She said rather than pay compensation to host communities and ask them to relocate; they should be allowed to be part of the habitation and could be engaged to compliment the security infrastructure for the national parks as measure against poaching.
The Minister, who noted that Nigerians are not adventurous to explore tourism resources available in Nigeria, decried the long neglect and lack of investments in the national parks and stated that her Ministry is on the drawing board to reverse the trend. She added that the context for the parks has to be reviewed “because even the best parks in the world today are failing because of context.”
The Minister said that in the envisaged reform, the role of the National Park Commission must also be clearly defined, noting that as at present, the Commission does not interface effectively with the Ministry; and that the relationship between states where the parks are situated and the Federal Government must also be defined.
She said the security of Rangers must also be given paramount attention as against the present situation where they are not recognised when they die in active service.