The Action Component of Biodiversity Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme, in collaboration with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), and with understanding from the National Park Service, conducted a week-long series of capacity – building and livelihoods Enhancement Training Programmes in Okomu National Park, for the Park Rangers, and the selected Support Zone Communities circumscribing the Park, respectively.
Declaring the first leg of the Workshop, Capacity – building Training Programs officially open, the Conservator-General, National Park Service, Dr. Ibrahim Musa Goni,(fwison), represented by the Conservator of Okomu National Park, Tesleem A. Kareem, appreciated the BIOPAMA-AC /NCF Programme in the Park, and thanked its Management for choosing Okomu National Park, as a benefactor of this novel training programmes.
The CG, particularly thanked the various stakeholders, who have so tirelessly contributed, in their very humble capacities to ensure that the Park and its resources are protected from unsustainable utilization. He craved for further collaboration in any areas that will bring meaningful progress to both the Service and the Park.
In his opening remarks, the Director – General of NCF, Dr. Mukthari, Aminu-Kano, represented by The Technical Director of NCF, Dr. Joseph Onoja, thanked the National Park Service for agreeing to partner with NCF, especially in the important area of capacity- building trainings, as exemplified today.
The DG recalled with nostalgia how the foremost conservation giant in Nigeria piloted the affairs of the Park as a Game Reserve at the time, and that like a child of necessity, it has come to see how such a child was faring in various aspects. He briefed the congregation of how grants were sourced to support the Park Service in important areas of training, both for staff n members from the local support zone communities.
The DG, further informed all that the capacity-building program for Park Rangers will not only be trainings, but that uniform kits and accessories will equally be provided for all the trained rangers, to bolter staff enthusiasm for the job. This will also include other field kits that will allow them perform their official assignments effectively.
Other invited guests who spoke in glowing dimensions, appreciated the BIOPAMA/ NCF program for their insights and support in Okomu National. The DG’s representative reeled out what the Programme will be doing to the Park, subsequently. He expressed genuine joy with the Conservator-General’s many result-driven initiatives to explore windows of collaboration and institutional synergy. He expressed satisfaction in the ongoing stringent anti-poaching drive instituted by the Conservator of Parks, Tesleem Kareem, and sued for sustenance of the renewed drive.
At the sidelines of the Capacity building Training programmes for Field Rangers, were donated field and surveillance kits, including 2 Drones, 30 pairs of Binoculars, 30: pieces of Walkie-Talkies, 2 Laptops, and 4 pieces of GPS.
Receiving the donated field items in the behalf of the Conservator-General, NPS, CP T.A. Kareem, who represented the CG, thanked BIOPAMA/NCF Programme for the gesture, and promised that donated items will be deployed to assigned areas for proper utilization. A total of 50 field Rangers were trained in various areas of field operations, data analysis, ballistics, anti-poaching techniques, visitor reception, ornithology and ecotourism basics, amongst others.
During the Second phase of the BIOPAMA/NCF training, this time on Livelihoods opportunities training programmes for selected support zone communities of the Park, the Conservator-General NPS, represented by CP Cornelius Oladipo, officially declared it opened, and was particularly enthusiastic that such a series of training programmes for the Park’s Support Zone Communities, will not only improve local economies and create jobs, interns of exploring other viable and sustainable ways of eking out a meaningful living, but will also dissuade same from over- depending on the lean resources of the Park.
The CG, while thanking the organizers of the Programme, believed that when the tight intention is known concerning the training, then to become a lot easier for communities to join hands and support the good intentions of the Park Management, and Government for the collective benefits all. He urged the benefiting communities not to treat the training programmes with any levity, but to imbibe all the many benefits the training will espoused. At the end of the support zone communities’ trainings, support materials were given to participating communities in the areas of fish farming, poultry, modern ways of processing oil palm and cassava.
In his own separate speech, CP, Okomu National Park, Tesleem Kareem, harped for continued support from benefited communities, and encouraged participants to make good use of the opportunity presented by the training.
The CP added that, he came to restore the near-lost Glory of the Park, making it a no- business- as -usual, especially in the area of inordinate logging. He said communities as it were, are the custodian of the forest, and the need for a concerted effort to protect its resources from any form of illegal operations. About 6press crews from various media houses thronged the various training events to boost publicity.