The Assistant Conservator-General of the Nigeria National Park Service, Okedeji Okeyoyin has revealed that Boko Haram and others terrorists has stopped foreigners from patronage tourists across the nation.
He bemoaned that Park facilities were idle nationwide due to insecurity, a situation he said, has affected the functionality of game reserves that would have earned the country revenue like other African countries.
According to the DAILY POST, reports that, the tourism potentials in Nigeria has not been tapped yet, adding that, inadequate funding, bad road network to tourism centres are other factors militating against tourism services in the country.
“Inadequate funding, decayed infrastructure and bad road network to location of our parks are also part of challenges facing Nigerian parks.
“If you look at the trend of tourists flow, before Boko Haram, you will see rise in the graph but the moment Boko Haram struck, the graph dropped.
“During Christmas and Easter period, you see tourists from Europe coming to patronize us, but when we had the challenge of insurgency, they stopped patronizing us, ” Okeyoyin said.
The Assistant Conservator – General was reacting to an assertion during an interactive session of the joint session of senate and House committees on environment on the operations of the National Park Service.
“If you want to go to Gashaka Gumti national park, apart from the road network that is not good, your fear will be, I hope I will not be kidnapped? Chad basin is one of our parks, how many people want to go to Borno State”, he asked?
“If there is general insecurity, definitely it will affect the level of patronage and majority of these challenges are far beyond the National Park. So all of us must join hands and ensure that there is improvement in our security network”.
He reiterated that the national park needs money, saying adequate funding is required because people will easily compare Nigerian parks to countries like Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe among others.
“In those countries, the parks generate substantial money as revenue and the Honourable minister of environment has said our own parks too can do the same if the federal government is able to provide enough money and basic infrastructure.
“The level at which we are now, infrastructure are lacking, there are some that are decay, hence if we are adequately funded and we are able to rehabilitate decayed infrastructure, our revenue profile will rise.
“When we talk of revenue, the National Park’s ability to generate revenue is a function of security of the country. We the elite should start visiting the parks, if we do, others too will join us. Let us promote domestic tourism first, then international tourists will follow.
“No matter the level of publicity and advertisement, if there is general insecurity, nobody will visit the park. If the road network to those facilities are not properly fixed, no body will go. If you want to go to kainji lake national park today as a tourist, the road from here to Minna, then from Minna to Bida we know the nature of the roads” he said.
It would be recalled that Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, chairman Senate committee on Media and Publicity had alleged that the National Park Service is not operating optimally, saying he was in Yankari National Park in Bauchi but could not sight a single animal.
But Okeyoyin said, “Yankari, is not part of our national parks, it used to be one of our national parks before 2006 and since 2006, Yankari has ceased to be one of our parks.
“Today, we have seven national parks, they are; kainji lake national park located in Kwara/Niger States, we have old Oyo park, Okomu park, Cross River park, Gashaka Gumti park and Chad basin national park located between Borno and Yobe States. So from all I have mentioned, you can see that Yankari is out of it”.