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Meet Uncle Gilbert Nyangaji That I Know

I was born and brought up in Serti Gashaka LGA of Taraba state. Growing up in this town was a privilege for me, as Gashaka LGA is the home to the largest national park in Nigeria. At that time, wild animals were roaming our farmland and backyards. Our parents were involved in subsistence agriculture and traditional hunting to feed the family. The increased anthropogenic activities such as urbanization, agriculture, and intensified hunting for commercialization led to habitat fragmentation and decimation of these animals in our vicinity. I became worried and was hoping for urgent intervention to protect our biodiversity. Luckily the National Park and Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) came at the right time for the rescue. One of the campaigners was uncle Gills whom I so much admired and had wished to be like

Hon. Gilbert Nyanganji  has been such a prominent player in the field of conservation that he has had an impact on many people's careers including myself. He has certainly been an inspiration for me as a young energetic man full of passion for conservation. 

My first meeting with Hon. Gills as we fondly call him was around 17 years ago at Gashaka Primate Project Kwano in Gashaka Gumti National Park, one of the most protected sites then and the only remnant intact lowland rainforest in northern Nigeria. As a very junior conservationist, just beginning my IT at Gashaka Primate Project under my able supervisor and mentor Dr. Umar Buba, I felt it was a bit like meeting an almost godlike figure.

 Hon. Gills and I are quite introverted so it took us a while to get to know each other. Eventually, we found that we had some shared interests: scepticism of accepted wisdom, humor, and mountaineering.

Hon Gills was terrifying; a good-looking man with long hair. I was enthralled by the account of his working life, including the very difficult task of navigating the rugged, hilly terrain of the park and the challenges of working with the park rangers and the enclave communities. These efforts led to the publication "Monkeys and Apes as Animals and Humans: Ethno-Primatology in Nigeria's Taraba Region" which of course was a pioneer work that the government would have used as a template for protecting our fauna in the state.

Overall, what inspires me most about Gilbert Nyangaji are the following;

Intelligence – Hon Gills epitomizes true heroes of nature conservation by being clever, articulate, diplomatic, and very ambitious.
Tenacity – Hon. Gill is very tenacious, rugged, and quick to learn a new idea 
Pioneering – On many fronts as a conservationist/environmentalist and community leader, Hon. Gills has broken down the barriers for others to follow by being the voice of the youth of Mambilla plateau when it matters most.
Style – Hon. Gills are always meticulously, trendily dressed, and professionally presented.
Benevolence – Hon Gills is generous in dedicating himself to worthwhile causes such as the organization of events amongst hosts of others for the betterment of his people. An example is the "Green Trek"
 Calmness – After meeting Hon. Gills in person, the other character I would add to my list is the ability to exude calmness. This is a characteristic I have been striving to improve my entire life.
Leadership- Hon. Gils possessed high leadership qualities that are compared to those known. On several occasions, he has organized and managed events or programs comprising several hundreds of people and was usually successful
Coordination- A well-coordinated, proficient in the English language, French, and fluent in almost all the Bantu languages spoken on the plateau including Hausa and Fulani language
Philanthropy– Everyone that has met you before cannot shy away from the truth that you are a philanthropist and have a love for humanity.
I must take this opportunity to thank you and wish you well on your aspirations to represent the good people of Taraba central in the senate. I am very optimistic that you will do a good job and offer the people of Taraba central a good representation because you are not timid and not the sleeping type. However, it is my earnest wish that the electorates should identify these qualities of yours and vote for your candidacy for effective representation.

Best wishes 

Dr. George Nodza FLS London of Department of Botany, University of Lagos writes from Lagos

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