On behalf of the Management, officers and men of the National Park Service, I feel highly honoured to welcome this creme de la creme in the society to the National Park Headquarters, the venue of the round table meeting.
The National Park Service was established in 1991 to conserve the biotic and abiotic resources in selected ecosystems across the country classified as National Parks. In line with global standards, Nigerian National Parks are managed by the highest competent legal authority of the Land, the Federal Government through the National Park Service.
The Service manages 7 National Parks spread across all the ecological zones except the marine and mangrove ecosystem and all the Geo-political Zones of the country except the South-East. Each of these Parks has its unique features and attractions capable of attracting potential tourists and researchers to Nigeria. Efforts are also being made to establish a marine National Park for Nigeria to attain the full complements of its biological diversity.
The Service was upgraded to a full-fledged paramilitary organisation in 2014 by the Federal government for it to be at par with its counterparts in other parts of the world and cope with the daunting task of protection and conservation of flora and faunal resources.
The new status coupled with the emerging trends where protected areas are becoming new hideouts for miscreants to carry out organised crimes, bestows additional responsibility of providing security in the countryside to guarantee the safety and security of potentials tourists and other visitors to the National Parks.
Besides, the National Parks yearn for world class infrastructure, equipment for anti-poaching activities, training and manpower development and technological devices to be able to compete favourably with their counterparts in other parts of the world in terms of environmental sustainability, tourists attraction and revenue generation.
The Federal Government on its part has in its desire to uplift the standard of National Parks in the country, made some investments through the annual budgets, but these alone are grossly inadequate to provide the massive infrastructure required to bring them to standard. Therefore, Government has through the Bureau for Public Enterprises come up with policies that will facilitate private sector involvement in the development of National Parks in accordance with global best practices.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, you will agree with me that strategic partnerships is the new global approach to development. It is in this spirit that we wish to engage with you at this round table in order to move our National Parks to the next level.
While, I welcome you once again, let me crave your indulgence to support us in our quest to transform the National Park Service.
Thank you and God bless