Marhai, National Park in the heart of sleepy Wamba Local Government of Nasarawa State, is testament of courage and faith in Nigeria’s quest to fully husband its vast but often neglected biosphere and environmental advantages.
If the United States alone has over 400 protected areas and still counting in the last quarter of a century or more, Nigeria’s newest protected enclaves, borne out of global desire to check climate change and right the expectations of International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), certainly benchmarks our strong desire to be counted as responsive to managing natural resources strategically.
Tuesday last week, Governor Abdullahi Sule, an engineer and economic resources developmental specialist, presided over the inauguration of a takeoff committee for the Marhai National Park, located in the state, with the commissioner for environment, Kwanta Yakubu, leading the team.
George Okeyoyin, PhD, acting Conservator-General of National Park Service, Nigeria, who led a high-powered Federal Government delegation to rub minds with Gov. Sule on counterpart funding and logistics for immediate takeoff of the park, commended the governor for the speed to bring life to the Marhai initiative.
Yakubu, the face behind the Marhai National Park, was overjoyed with his governor’s commitment and support, unarguably the happiest fellow that Tuesday afternoon in Lafia, the state capital, where lovers of the new dream and stakeholders basked in euphoria.
I had done one of the most challenging whistle visits to capture this engagement, with a first flight out of Lagos, arriving Abuja en route Lafia, a blistering race to Lafia, missing the inauguration by seconds but fortunate to share a meet with Gov. Sule and the Federal Government delegation, who were anxious about my not making the epoch event.
Handshakes over and being introduced to the governor by ACG, George Okeyoyin, a short and eventful stopover at office of the commissioner for environment began another feature of the making of Marhai National Park.
I had met the district head of Marhai, Luka Meshack, an encounter signposting the love and excitement of the people about the project. The five support zones communities for the green and waterfall resource are Marhai, Massange, Andohor, Turkwan and Jashi.
With the presentation of Marhai-corporate and branded facecaps and shirts to the commissioner for distribution to the communities over, another race to the site, about one and half hours from Lafia, ensued.
And accompanied by the youth leader of the Marhai community, Mr. Dozen, we breached the yet invisible frontiers of the park in the heart of Wamba’s serene sub-city ecology.
Let me explain that the famous Farin Ruwa Falls form the fulcrum of the new park, clearly spelling out how the spectacular waterfall in the heart of Nasarawa State will henceforth be addressed.
Don’t come with high expectations yet as the biosphere is still virgin, rural and without any luxury adventure appointment. It is a work about to begin but the owner, the people, are beginning to count their gains in employment as rangers and as tour guides.
The splashing lips of Farin Ruwa are still very active, cascading tons of clean water from Olympian heights, watering farmlands, gushing streams for the communities and providing natural aquarium for fisheries.
Surely, the future holds of exportable Farin Ruwa waters, extracted from the hallowed rock chambers of Farin Ruwa, a great brand milage for Marhai National Park.
Another great export from the Marhai enclaves is the rich presence of red palm oil, though possible outside marked green areas of the park and in competition with Okomu oil, extracted outside the famous white-throated monkeys biosphere of Okomu National Park in Edo State.
My interactions with Marhai youths was interesting and it seems, my job is well cut out, a time-out well worth the love of a lifetime to be counted as one of the signatures to the effectual takeoff of the 10 new parks across the country with Marhai National Park counted as number one.