Speech By The Honourable Commissioner For The Environment At The Launch Of 2016 Conservation Ecotourism For Selected Students In Lagos State.

All protocols duly observed.
On behalf of His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos state, it gives me great pleasure to launch the maiden program of conservation ecotourism for selected students in Lagos secondary schools.

Eco-tourism refers to environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples. Ecotourism is distinguished by its emphasis on conservation, education, traveller responsibility and active community participation.

The conservation ecotourism for selected students in Lagos schools have been responsibly planned to include program that will minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment.

Lagos as an urban area has been undergoing a lot pressure from developmental projects and population growth leading to destruction of natural habitats. This be as it may, it is noteworthy that Lagos as an urban centre still incorporates conservation of natural areas in order for the people to enjoy nature. This program aims to demonstrate to the selected students the pristine, fragile ecosystems that are in Lagos by travelling to some selected locations within a spate of one week. The sites to be visited include:

• Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF) at Lekki-Epe expressway where they will engage in talks on nature conservation, canopy walk, fishing, bird watch amongst other activities.
• Origin zoo garden at Ikorodu where they will first and foremost be taught on the history of Lagos, visit the climate change museum, look at various animals in captivity as well as engage in local games.
• They will also visit some swamp forest, mangrove and wetlands along Ikorodu axis. The students will also be shown life Pangolin which is an endangered species commonly traded along that axis.
• Q-Brat Zoos and Garden along Badagry axis where they will be lectured on the history of the Badagry people, observe the various animals in their natural habitat and after this, move out to visit some wetlands that are still in pristine state such as the one in Yeketome and Ganme. They will also visit and observe the walls of coconut trees and other interesting areas.
• OMU Resort Centre at Epe. Here, they will observe the appalling state of the activities of sand miners, dredgers and other activities of environmental degradation as well as observe various mangrove plants, and animals.
• Akin-Sateru Farms at Km 20, Ikota, where they will learn piggery, fishery, poultry, feed meal etc.
• The program will climax with shopping and Barbecue night reception which will serve as an avenue to get feedback on the program from the participants.

Through this program, the following benefits are derivable:
• Broadening the students’ knowledge on conservation and climate change issues in the state.
• Enhancement of bio-cultural diversity which will help to inculcate in the participating students the natural and cultural heritage of Lagos State.
• It will also increase capacity building and knowledge among the selected students on environmental and conservation issues thus becoming an Ambassador of change.
• It will helpenlighten and empower the visiting local communities to achieve sustainable development.
• It will further serve as a means of advancing social, economic and environmental objectives in Lagos State.

Let me further state here that this program is very innovative in that it is a means of looking inwards by the government. Some years back, the government sponsor selected students on this type of ecotourism abroad, specifically, Germany. This program, apart frompromoting local ecotourism, will enable the students to appreciate our own environment as well as save the government scarce foreign exchange used in sponsoring such trips abroad in the past.

The Conservation Ecotourism also afforded us the opportunity to partner with spirited members of the public, the private sectors and Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs)to sustain this maiden initiative.On behalf of the state government, let me express our profound gratitude to all our sponsors and partners. These include Association of Food and Confectionaries of Nigeria (AFCON), Friesland Campina, UAC PLC,Chivita PLC , 7-Up Bottling Company, Nigeria Bottling Company, Games Supermarket , Goodies Supermarket , Spar Supermarket , Fan Milk PLC ,Cadbury PLC , Louis Valentino , Shoprite PLC ,Orchid Hotel & Resort Centre ,Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF), Origin Zoos and Gardens , Q-Brat Zoos and Gardens,Omu Resort Centre , Akin-Sateru Farms among others.

I also hope you will all extend your hands of fellowship in future edition of the program.
Thank you all.
Itesiwaju ilu Eko lojewa logun!!!