By Joy Odor
President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved the upgrading of the Marhai forest reserve, in Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, into a national park.
Conservator-General and Chief Executive Officer, National Park Services, Ibrahim Musa Goni, disclosed this while on a courtesy call on the Nasarawa State governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, at the Government House, on Monday.
The Conservator-General further disclosed that President Buhari approved for 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, Nasarawa State government, in 2013, 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, with a view to setting up modalities for the smooth handing and taking over of the new national parks.
He added that the NPS is also mandated to liaise with the state’s ministry of justice, with a view to producing an executive bill to be sent before the national assembly, seeking to amend the National Park Act, to accommodate the ten new national parks.
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, Nasarawa State governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, thanked President Buhari for approving the recommendation of the NPS establishing the ten new national parks.
According to the governor, since 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.
Engineer Sule equally appreciated the NPS for its recommendations and for recognizing these hidden assets belonging to the country that were left to fallow.
“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, Alahji Lai Mohammed, to come and project the park,” the governor said.
The governor 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 its ability to attract tourists.
Engineer Sule expressed confidence that at the end of the day, host communities bordering the park, will benefit in terms of employments as well as other benefits.
To this end, the governor directed the state Commissioner for Information Tourism and Culture, Hon. Dogo Shammah, to liaise with the officials of the NPS, with a view to constituting the transition committee.