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Kwara communities decry influx of IDPs

*Make National Parks livestock parks

Kwara South Advancement Agenda (KSAA), has proposed the conversion of some of the existing National Parks and Game Reserves to Livestock Parks to be able to address the issues of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country which is affecting host communities in Kwara South.

Speaking Wednesday during a press conference in Ilorin, Mr Opeyemi Olabanji who is the Chairman of the KSAA said that about three per cent of the entire Nigerian land mass is currently utilised as either National Parks or Game Reserves, a luxury he felt Nigeria could no longer afford to retain especially in the face of the current threats to peace and tranquillity.

The KSAA said the reason for their proposal stemmed from the influx of displaced persons to their communities each time there is a crisis in the adjoining states.

He noted, “the present peace we are enjoying in the Kwara South communities is not by accident but due to the ingenuity of our traditional rulers. According to a Yoruba adage, ‘Igi ganganran ma gun mi loju, okere lati nye e’ (a stitch in time saves nine), we need to take proactive measures that will prevent crisis in our land.

“The situation is such that if people who had fought in a place suddenly meet themselves in another place the tendency to renew their hostilities is very high. This is what we don’t want to happen that is making us to look inward and proffer the needed solution to it.”

Kwara South has a wide deciduous vegetation and alluvial topography rich in both farming and grazing. Besides, the people of the Senatorial district are noted for their hospitality making the environment conducive for settlers.

Olabanji said his people have designed a framework that could serve as a permanent solution to the frequent clashes between the farmers and the herdsmen.

According to him, since many states are refusing the Federal Government’s propositions of establishment of cattle colonies, the Federal Government should convert at least one or two of the nation’s National Parks into livestock park.

Already, a proposal has been packaged for submission in the coming days to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Mr Boss Mustapha “who many Nigerians have said to be a proactive official under the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.”

He said, the development should start with the amendments of the National Park Service Acts to suit the proposition and make same acceptable to majority of Nigerians. He added that Nigeria needs both the herdsmen and farmers for economic growth.

According to him, “even if all the 36 states of the Federation including the Federal Capital Territory, decide to donate 10,000 hectares each, we will have 370,000 hectares, whereas the Kanji Lake National park alone covers 534,082 hectares. This is well above the 370,000 hectares being sought for by the Federal Government.

Herbivorous wildlife can co habit with livestock while carnivorous wildlife can easily be relocated.

Olabanji identified the parks as: (Chad Basin) located within Borno and Yobe states, (Cross River,) sited in Cross River state, (Gashaka/Gumti) in Taraba and Adamawa states, (Kainji) in Niger and Kwara, Kamuku in Kaduna state, (Okomu in Edo state, (Old Oyo located in Oyo and Kwara state while we have (Yankari) in Bauchi.

For the KSAA leader, the nation should experiment with the Kainji National Park considered the oldest in Nigeria having been established in 1978 and covers an area of about 5349. 82km square. The results he noted would form the fulcrum of Federal Government’s reactions to the propositions.

The Nigeria National Park Service (NNPS) is responsible for preserving, enhancing, protecting and managing vegetation and wild animals in the National Parks of Nigeria. The NNPS is a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of the Environment and is headed by a Conservative General.

Olabanji who disclosed that the people of Kwara South have penchant for peace and tranquillity, believed that if the Federal Government had expended so much money on the nation’s farmers, the same kind gestures should be extended to the herdsmen.

For him, the propositions of the KSAA would bolster the economic activities of communities around such converted parks and reserves as dairies and meat processing activities will spring up.

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