The Federal Government has identified the ancient Kano City Wall and “Igbo Olodumare”, a forest in Okeigbo, Ondo State, among the veritable sites for declaration as UNESCO world heritage sites.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said this on Tuesday when he paid a working visit to the Osun Oshogbo Sacred Grove, one of two UNESCO world heritage sites in Nigeria located in Oshogbo, Osun State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the second UNESCO world heritage site in the country is the Sukur Cultural Landscape in Adamawa.
Mr Mohammed also listed the Brazilian Baracoon Museum/Point Of No Return in Badagry, Lagos State, and the Ogbunike Cave in Anambra for consideration by the UNESCO.
According to him, Nigeria has many veritable sites that meet the requirements of being declared World Heritage Sites.
The minister said the government would take immediate steps to first enlist the sites on the tentative list, after which they could be inscribed as World Heritage Sites.
“The ancient Kano City Walls witnessed the famous Trans- Sahara Trade of which Kano was the dominant force.
“This trade linked the great kingdoms and empires of West Africa with North America and even Europe.
“Last month, we successfully obtained a court order restraining persons encroaching on the Kano City Walls and Associated Sites.
“The forests in Oke-Igbo, Ile Oluji Axis of Ondo State, which was the inspiration for D. O. Fagunwa’s book, ‘Igbo Olodumare’ should be considered for reason of its scenic state,” he said
The minister added: “The Brazilian Baracoon Museum/Point Of No Return in Badagry, Lagos State, where slaves departed Nigeria to the Americas should be considered for historic reasons
“The Gashaka-Gumti National Park, Nigeria’s largest national park. It is located in the eastern provinces of Taraba and Adamawa, close to the border with Cameroon.
“The Ogbunike Caves in Anambra State – Should be considered for its natural significance”.
The minister described world heritage site as “a landmark or area which is selected by UNESCO as having cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties”.
According to him, such sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity and considered to be of outstanding universal value.
“The World Heritage Site list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 “states parties”.
“The fact that the General Assembly, comprising the entire 193 states parties, in November elected Nigeria into the UNESCO World Heritage Committee is a positive development for our quest to have more sites designated as World Heritage Sites.
“We shall use our presence on this Committee to fight for enlistment of many more sites from Nigeria into the World Heritage list, because Nigeria is really blessed with a lot of potential sites,” he said.
Mohammed described the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove as an extraordinary site worthy of its declaration as a world heritage
He thanked the Government of Osun state for all it had done and still doing to maintain the site.
The minister also warned land grabbers threatening the 45 hectares buffer zone around the grove to keep off, assuring that the government would do whatever was possible within the law to keep encroachers at bay.
The minister also disclosed that his team would pay a similar visit to the Sukur Cultural Landscape.
“Our gallant men and women in uniform have succeeded in repelling the attempt by the Boko Haram terrorists to destroy the Sukur Cultural Landscape,” he said.
NAN reports that the minister and his entourage, including a team of journalists, were taken round the 75 hectares grove by the Curator, Adekunle Fatai.
The minister also visited the house where Susanne Wenger (Adunni Olorisa) lived in Oshogbo from 1958 until her death in 2009.
Wenger was an Austrian-Nigerian artist who resided in Nigeria and focused on Yoruba culture, particularly the promotion of Osun Oshogbo festival.
The minister also paid a courtesy visit to the Osun State governor, Gboyega Oyetola.