The Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammed Abubakar on Friday called on stakeholders in the sector to support government effort towards the protection of conservation parks and the biodiversity of the country.
The minister made the call during the handing over ceremony of field and security equipment donated by an NGO, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) to Okomu National Park in Udo, Edo.
Abubakar said that the support and protection of the conservation parks should not be left alone to government, adding that all hands must be on deck to protect the ecosystem of the country.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on other local and International Non-Governmental Organisation to identify with and support the conservation efforts of the national park service.
“Government alone should not be left with environmental issues, it calls for synergy and collaboration, ” he said.
The minister commended the foundation for its dedication to nature conservation and sustainable development of the country, adding that the donation of the equipment by the foundation would go along way to protect the park.
“The design and step by step implementation of this project and the achievement made so far by NCF is a clear testimony of the foundation being the foremost conservation Non-Governmental Organisation in Nigeria.
“Let me assure you that the items being delivered to the national park service today will be judiciously deployed for effective protection of the park to achieve the desired objectives of the project.
“To officers and men of the national park service Okomu, I wish to congratulate you for these itens that will be added to the limited equipment in your possession.
“You are to make best use of same to facilitate your effectiveness to maintain livelihoods and enhanced resilience of local communities,” he said
The Director-General of NCF Muhtari Aminu-Kano, said that the foundation secured 99,000 Euros from BIOPAMA, a European-based NGO, to develop nature conservation activities of the park.
“The project whose grant size is 99,297.61 EUR and duration commenced with the signing of contract on 15th Nov 2020 and composition of the Project Steering & Management Structures while the actual field activities began in January 2021,” he said.
Aminu-Kano said the equipment includes; 30 units of Walkie-Talkies, 30 binoculars, 5 units GPS, 3 Drones, 3 laptops, production of new sets of uniforms and personal protective equipment for 50 Park Rangers.
Other items includes Purchase of 10 new motorcycles and complete sets of spare parts and engine oil, connection of electricity from the generator house to the Park visitors’ chalets at the Tourist Base Camp, Arakhuan and alternative livelihood support of 5,000 fingerlings of cat fish with 10 bags of fish feed and 10 bags of poultry feed.
The NCF DG said the foundation would continued to support the promotion of sustainable natural resource management, creation of environmental awareness, policy, advocacy and development of ecotourism in the country.
“This is a testament to our continuing support to Okomu National Park and the National Park Service because of our conviction that government alone cannot single-handedly provide everything that the Park needs in the face of increasing challenges confronting biodiversity conservation.
“NCF is determined to extend its field actions and interventions to other priority protected areas and critical habitats to enhance the long-term sustainable management of Nigeria’s signature biological resources.
“We will continue to engage with government MDAs, corporate groups, partners, local communities, individuals and nature enthusiasts to enhance the enthronement of a Nigeria where people live in harmony with nature”. he said.
Earlier, the Conservator of the park, Tesleem Kareem said that although the Okomu Park “is the smallest in Nigeria national parks with 24.22 square km, it is the richest in terms of biodiversity.
“The park represents one of the remaining secondary, moist, tropical, rain forest ecosystems in Nigeria with a a diverse assemblage of biodiversity, some of which are endemic to this part of the world,” he said.
The conservator thanked the foundation for the equipment and assured that they would be put to judicious use.