The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has approved the upgrading of the Marhai Forest Reserve, in Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, to a National park.
Conservator-General and Chief Executive Officer, National Park Services, NPS, Ibrahim Goni, disclosed this while on a courtesy call on the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, at the Government House, in Lafia the State Capital.
Goni further disclosed that President Buhari approved the upgrading of another 9 forest reserves across the country, out of the 23 earlier requested.
“I’m visiting Your Excellency, to convey to you, the President’s approval for the upgrading of the Marhai forest reserve to a national park,” he stated.
According to Goni, in 2013, the Nasarawa State government, alongside other 22 states, requested for the upgrading of the Marhai forest reserve, following which President Buhari approved the upgrading of ten forest reserves across the country.
The Conservator-General explained that ”the approval came with a presidential directive for the National Park Services to engage the benefiting states, to set up modalities for the smooth handing and take over of the new national parks.”
‘The NPS is also mandated to liaise with the State’s Ministry of Justice, to produce an executive bill to be sent before the National Assembly, seeking to amend the National Park Act, to accommodate the 10 new national parks,” he stressed.
Goni equally requested for the immediate setting up of a transition committee, involving representatives from the State Government, to fine-tune modalities for the handing over of the Marhai Forest Reserve to the NPS.
Responding, the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, thanked President Buhari for approving the recommendation of the NPS to establish 10 new National parks.
The Governor said; ”Since its inception, his administration has been promoting the Farin Ruwa tourism potentials, with the State government constructing the 15-km Sisin Baki/ Farin Ruwa road to open up the area.”
Governor Sule equally appreciated the NPS for its recommendations and for recognising these hidden assets belonging to the country.
“Since this administration came in, we have been doing everything possible to promote that park…We have invited a lot of personalities, including a delegation led by the Minister of Information, Tourism, and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to come and project the park,” the Governor noted.
Governor Sule was optimistic that with its conversion to a national park, the Marhai Forest Reserve, will certainly lead other national parks in the country because of its natural endowment, especially attracting tourists.
He further expressed confidence that at the end of the day, host communities bordering the park, would be beneficial in terms of employment, among others.
The Governor therefore, directed the State Commissioner for Information Tourism and Culture, Mr. Dogo Shammah, to liaise with the officials of the NPS, to constitute the transition committee.