By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of ten new National Parks across the country.
The Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, disclosed this during a press conference in Abuja.
The minister stated that an executive bill would soon be presented to the National Assembly to give legal backing to the development.
He listed the new parks to include Allawa Game Reserve, Allawa National Park 310km 2 Niger, Apoi Forest Reserve, Apoi National Park 64.77km 2 Bayelsa, and Edumenum Forest Reserve Edumenum National Park 86.76km 2 Bayelsa.
Others, according to him, are Falgore Game Reserve Falgore National Park 920km 2 Kano, Hadeja Wetland Game Reserve Hadeja Wetland National Park 320km 2 Jigawa and Kampe Forest Kampe National 652.86km 2 Kwara 2 Reserve Park.
The new parks also included Kogo Forest Reserve, Kogo National Park 212.66km 2 Katsina and Marhai Forest Reserve Marhai National Park 54.00km 2 Nasarawa.
Oba Hill Forest Reserve Oba Hills National Park 52.5km 2 Osun and Pandam Forest Reserve Pandam National Park 244km 2 Plateau were also part of the new parks.
“We are very much aware that security is crucial in order to protect the national parks.
“The creation of these parks will provide the much- needed apparatus to ward off criminal elements living or looking for hideouts in those areas,’’ he said.
Abubakar expressed the regret that most state-owned forest reserves had become dens of criminal elements.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed his ministry to collaborate with the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Interior to ensure maximum security.
“The creation of additional National Parks in Nigeria has become imperative in view of the prevailing effects of climate change across the globe.
“This action is geared towards the United Nations (UN) policy three of placing 25 percent of its member- countries’ landmass under permanent vegetation cover for carbon sequestration to mitigate the effects of climate change and ameliorate other ecological challenges.
“It may interest you to note that Nigeria currently has 6.7 percent of her total landmass under vegetation cover, which is grossly inadequate, in line with global best practices.
“The creation of these parks will, no doubt, further create more employment opportunities, alleviate poverty in rural areas and ultimately enhance the country’s revenue profile, especially now that Nigeria is seeking to diversify her economy,” he said.
In an interview, Conservator-General, National Park Service, Dr. Ibrahim Goni said the government was working to secure the lives of Park Rangers by increasing the Calibre of weapons at their disposal.