Good morning gentlemen.
2. We have just concluded a tour of the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, one of Nigeria’s two world heritage sites. The other is the Sukur Cultural Landscape in Adamawa State. You will agree with me that this is indeed an extraordinary site, worthy of its declaration as a world heritage site.
3. The essence of this visit, gentlemen, is to renew national and global attention on this world heritage site, and to formally announce our plan to enlist more sites as world heritage sites. As you are aware, Nigeria has many veritable sites that meet the requirements of being declared World Heritage Sites. We are taking immediate steps to first enlist the sites on the Tentative List, after which they can be inscribed as World Heritage Sites.
4. The sites we are seeking to enlist as World Heritage Sites are many, but I will name just a few.
(i) – The ancient Kano City Walls. These 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.
(ii) – 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
(iii) – 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
(iii) – 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.
(iv) – The Ogbunike Caves in Anambra State – Should be considered for its natural significance.
The list is endless.
5. A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area which is selected by the UNESCO as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. Such sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity. They are considered to be of ‘Outstanding Universal Value’.
6. 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”.
7. The fact that the General Assembly, comprising the entire 193 states parties, last month elected Nigeria into the UNESCO World Heritage Committee is a positive development for our quest to have more sites designated as World Heritage Sites. And 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.
8. In the meantime, we are planning a similar visit to the Sukur Cultural Landscape. Fortunately for us, our gallant men and women in uniform have succeeded in repelling the attempt by the Boko Haram terrorists to destroy the Sukur Cultural Landscape.
9. Now that we are here, let me use the opportunity of this visit to warn the land grabbers who are threatening the buffer zone around the Osun-Osogbo Grove, which is also a national monument. We will do whatever is possible within the law to keep encroachers at bay.
10. Finally, let me most sincerely thank the Government of Osun State for all it is has done and is still doing to maintain this World Heritage Site. As you can see, the access road to the grove is well tarred and the environment is kept clean and save. Thank you also to our guide today and to all those who are working here.