By Chika Okeke
Chika Okeke writes on the need for effective collaboration with ‘heritage bikers tour project’ in a bid to raise resources for the management of national parks and heritage sites.
Aside showcasing wildlife, the seven national parks across the country are endowed with diverse natural resources even as over 200 heritage sites and monuments are managed by the federal, states and local government authorities.
These heritage resources offers Nigeria alternative option for economic development through tourism, research, education and generation of employment.
Most of the heritage sites played prominent roles during the era of slave trade while some served as protection from enemies during inter-tribal wars.
Some of the sites include El-Kanemi Prayer House Ngala, Borno; Rock Painting Shira, Bauchi; Mbormi Battle Ground Bajoga, Gombe; Three Sisters Rock Adamawa; Goya Gorge And Ngeji Escarpment Fika Yobe; Sukur Cultural Landscape Adamawa and among others.
Findings by LEADERSHIP Newspaper revealed that these national assets are underutilised and might be moribound without patronage from all levels of government.
To this end, the ‘heritage bikers tour project’ was conceived to spur additional means of raising revenue for the management of these historical assets.
The tour is organised by indigenous and international bikers under the auspices of Latin American Motorcycle Association (LAMA) in conjunction with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM).
Recall that first entertainment ideas concept limited and Association of Nigeria Motorcycle Clubs signed a memorandum of understanding in Abuja in 2014 with NCMM for the project.
The indigenous bikers alongside its counterparts from Brazil, Mexico, USA, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Colombia, Germany, Syria and Egypt and among others are expected to visit 11 states including Niger, Kogi, Anambra, Cross River, Rivers, Bayelsa, Edo, Ondo, Osun, Ogun and Lagos and the FCT.
The 14-day tour which commenced on 23rd October and expected to end on 4th November is part of efforts by the bikers to popularise Nigeria’s parks, heritage sites and national monuments in order to attract huge influx of people.
It is also expected to raise the country’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) as the proceeds realised from the tour would be used for the management and maintenance of the national assets.
Since the National Parks Service (NPS) manages the country’s national park, the bikers visited the agency to reveal their decision to open- up the parks to the world.
NPS manages seven national parks spread across the ecological zones of the country such as Kainji Lake in Niger, Gashaka Gumti in Taraba and Adamawa, as well as Cross River National Park (CRNP) and among others.
The conservator-general of NPS, Alhaji Ibrahim Goni described the parks as the gene bank of genetic resources.
Gene banks are a type of biorepository that preserve genetic material.
He noted that Nigeria’s seven parks serves as the country’s gene bank in addition to animals and genetic resources that are still in their original forms.
This, he said are preserved for sustainable use, stating that the genetic resources are vital for the well-being of the upcoming generation.
Goni hinted that there are also wild species that flourished as natural systems, which assisted in regulating climate change, air quality, and cycles of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, mineral elements and water.
He emphasised that the service is currently liaising with national and international bodies to make the parks centre of attraction.
The bikers are also expected to visit museums and homes of national heroes.
The deputy director, finance & accounts of NCMM, Mr Ben Ogbeide disclosed that the purpose of the tour was to rediscover Nigeria and its rich cultural heritage.
He confirmed that the group would tour 14 states to highlight the heritage sites, cultural assets, museums and the Osun Oshogbo world heritage site.
Ogbeide hinted that the expedition was intended to project various heritage sites in Nigeria in order to attract tourists and visitors.
He was optimistic that the bikers would advertise the historical and heritage sites through the tour since the current administration is desirous of generating revenue from non-oil sector like the museums and heritage sites.
Ogbeide, who is also the chairman, organising committee for the ‘rediscover heritage bikers tour 2018’, stated that Nigeria wants to encourage the foreign bikers to invest in our heritage sites through the tour.
He assured Nigerians that next year’s tour would be more exciting, noting that the bikers are eager to visit many sites.
Lending his voice, the president of LAMA Nigeria, Mr Ernest Akhikpemelo said that the heritage bikers tour would be an annual event, aimed at promoting the tourism potentials in Nigeria.
According to him, “Rediscover Nigeria heritage tour 2018 is borne out of the need to explore a unique way to promote and propagate the tourism potential inherent in our rich cultural heritage using biking expedition.”
He was hopeful that the tourism benefits during the display are enormous as it would create opportunities for the bikers to interact with members of the community they would visit.
Akhikpemelo informed that the tour would showcase to the world the rich and diverse cultural heritage, monuments and sites, traditional festivals and local cuisines that abound in Nigeria.
He highlighted some of their activities to include visits to eminent personalities and dexterity bike displays by members of LAMA, led by Mr Mario Nieze as well as indigenous bikers in the 11 states.
Akhikpemelo asserted that the participants would produce a video and pictorial coverage of heritage and monument sites that abound in the country and showcase it to local and international audience.
He noted that subsequent editions would integrate activities such as bikers competition, traditional cuisine contest, essay competition, beauty pageantry and among others.
Akhikpemelo who is also the managing director of first entertainment ideas concept limited hinted that the re-discover Nigeria heritage tour project was targeted at raising additional revenue for the maintenance and intervention on the heritage resources.
He said that the essence of the project was to re-discover the trends in the environment and heritage through biking which he believed attracted both the young and old in the society.
Akhikpemelo disclosed that their decision to promote Nigeria cultural heritage was to leave a commemorative legacy for the upcoming generation by enlightening the publics on the importance of museums and the need to visit the monument sites nationwide.
He pleaded with corporate bodies, royal fathers, state governors, multinational companies, Nigerians in diaspora and stakeholders to key into the project by discharging their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in an effort to promote Nigeria’s heritage.
Akhikpemelo enjoined governments to pay more attention to the development of tourist sites so as to attract more international visitors.
He assured that the tourist sites could in turn become vital sources of income to the country if well harnessed and developed.
Some of the bikers that spoke with LEADERSHIP Newspaper pleaded with the federal government to preserve the sites.
Lynnae Buie from Florida, U.S described Nigeria as a beautiful country that has a lot to offer to the world in the area of tourism.
Buie enjoined governments at all levels to ensure that the sites are well preserved in order to attract more international visitors.
Another biker, Mario Nieves from Puerto Rico said that there is a need to develop the topography and landscape of some tourist sites for easy access to the site.
Also, Francisco Samperio from Mexico assured that the tour would be loaded with fun.