The Auditor-General for the Federation (AuGF), Anthony Mkpe Ayine, has expressed the readiness of his office to support the National Park Service (NPS) in fulfilling its mandate of preserving, enhancing, protecting and managing vegetation and wild animals in the national parks nationwide.
He gave the assurance on Wednesday when a three-man delegation from the National Park Service (NPS), led by the Conservator-General, Ibrahim Musa Goni, paid him a courtesy visit at the Audit House in Abuja.
A statement issued by Oghenekevwe Ebireri for the Deputy Director of the Office, on the visit quoted the AuGF as saying that most of the environmental issues being experienced in the country, especially the recent flooding in some states, can be traced to the encroachment of man on the environment.
Ayine described the advocacy visit as necessary to sensitize the public on the need to preserve and protect our natural resources.
This is even as he charged the Conservator-General and his team to do more to maintain the natural vegetation of the National Parks, rather than trying to modernize them stressing that “the attraction for tourists is not the modernization of our ranches, but the maintenance of the natural vegetation.”
He lamented that Nigeria was yet to benefit from the activities of the NPS in terms of revenue generation, attributing it largely to the fact that Nigerians do not fully appreciate the value and importance of the NPS.
The AuGF said: “As an Office, we agree that there should be value addition to our auditee organizations, and as such, we will be willing to support you in any way that we can, especially in terms of guidance and advice”.
In his remarks, the Conservator-General said that the purpose of the advocacy visit was borne out of the need to sensitize Nigerians on the activities of the NPS by reaching out to major stakeholders.
According to him, Nigeria is yet to meet up with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) criteria for National Parks which sets a minimum of 25 percent of the country’s land allocation to be given for forest cover, sufficient budget and staff to provide effective protection of parks, prohibition of exploitation of natural resources (including the development of dams) qualified by such activities as hunting, fishing, etc.
He called on state governments to support the vision of the NPS by voluntarily allocating more lands for park services, noting that there was need to increase the number of National Parks in the country, as well as encourage and attract more visitors in other to boost revenue generation.
There are currently seven National Parks in the country and the Nigeria National Park Service, a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of the Environment, is responsible for their maintenance, working closely with the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation.
The first national park, Kainji Lake was established in 1979. The National Parks Governing Board and five new National Parks were set up in 1991. The Yankari Game Reserve was upgraded to a national park in 1992, but was later handed over to the Bauchi State government in June 2006.
The parks cover a total land mass area of approximately 20,156 SQ KM, about 3% of Nigeria’s total land area.