David Diai

1The excellent reputation of the Nelson Mandela Gardens, located inside the premises of the Asaba international Airport, Asaba, on Saturday, July 23, 2016, was further enhanced when the Asst. Commissioner of Police, Delta State, ACP Nwachukwu Enwonwu, visited the Garden to plant a symbolic tree in memory and honnour of the late South African President, Nelson Mandela.

Reputed for playing host to high brow dignitaries from all walks of life, the Gardens achieved another milestone when ACP Enwonwu, who was recently deployed to Delta State as the AC Operations, Nigerian Police Force, Asaba Command, at the Gardens, the Chairman/CEO Mandela Gardens, Asaba, arrived and was warmly welcomed into the sublime, pastureland ambience of the exotic garden by Dr. Newton Jibunoh, the celebrated environmentalist, conqueror of the Sahara Desert, and Chief Executive of Fight Against Desert Encroachment (FADE).

6Addressing his distinguished guest, Dr. Jibunoh informed APC Enwonwu that the Nelson Mandela Garden of 95 Trees was established in commemoration of the 95th birthday celebration of Nelson Mandela, a world revered icon of freedom, equality and justice and the idea was borne following a chanced meeting in March 2013 between Dr Newton Jibunoh, founder of FADE Africa with Ndaba Mandela, grandson and Founder of Africa Rising Foundation in New York, in the wake of the endorsement of the United Nations International Mandela Day (July 18), by the United Nations Headquarters.

The Desert warrior, as Dr. Jibunoh is fondly addressed, noted that in alliance with the Delta State Government and the Africa Rising Foundation, as well as the approval of the Nelson Mandela family, the Nelson Mandela Garden of 95 Trees was birthed commissioned in October 2013, with members of the Nelson Mandela Family led by Ndaba Mandela, the Chairman of Africa Rising Foundation, present to flag off the planting of the trees at the launch of the Mandela Garden of 95 Trees in, Asaba, Delta State, Nigeria.

Speaking further, Dr. Jibunor added that the garden, located within the Asaba international airport in Delta State, is designed in the shape of the Map of Africa using 95 Trees with each tree not only representing the 95 years of Nelson Mandela on earth, but also planted in such a unique way that they outline the maps of Nigeria, South Africa and Delta State, all clearly delineated within the garden and complimented with a life size statue of Nelson Mandela.

8“The Mandela Gardens, is a nature resort that offers both tourism and educational provisions for the general public while promoting the values of Nelson Mandela, also known as “Madiba”, which include freedom, equality, inclusivity, and truth, some which we hope our people and leaders can imbibe, especially in these days of political intrigues.

“At present, there are only three other similar monuments created around the world by the African Rising Foundation namely in Washington, London and Johannesburg making the Mandela Garden of 95 Trees, Asaba in Delta State the fourth of such monuments” Dr. Jibunor informed his guest, adding that he has received incredible support not only from the Delta State Government, but indeed from various organizations, both at home and abroad to sustain the Garden and his life has been further enriched, even in his advancing years, by the realization that he has contributed his own quota to immortalizing the name of Nelson Mandela and sustaining the environment through the garden.

7In his own remarks, an excited and obviously awed ACP Nwachukwu Enwonwu said that the tree planting experience was ‘simply awesome’ and hailed Dr. Jibunor for embarking on such a project of great historical import for the great Mandela, even as he extolled the famous ‘Desert Warrior, for his tasking adventures across the desert, and his commitment towards saving the environment and addressing the ravages of desertification, at a time when the world was on the verge of celebrating and immortalizing the great late Nelson Mandela, describing the Mandela Gardens as a project for posterity.

2Enwonwu, who himself is passionate about nature preservation and also shares a filial bonding with Dr. Jibunor, as his in-law, noted that in his 28 years as a police Officer, no singular event had given him and his family greater joy and a sense of fulfillment, than the tree planting ceremony he had come to perform at the Mandela Gardens in honnour of the great Nelson Mandela and while assuring that he would continue to identify with the Mandela Gardens for the rest of his life, pledged to provide every necessary requirement needed to nurture the tree he had planted to maturity, over the coming years.

He then prayed that Dr. Jibunor would live to be 95 years, the age of Mandela and even beyond, promising that the younger generation, which the Chairman of Mandela Gardens had mentored, including himself, would always be ready and willing to offer logistic and moral support, whenever the situation arose, to keep the project alive.

2Highpoint of the visit was the symbolic tree planting of a brand of Akasa tree, by ACP Enwuonwu, as well as a complimentary planting by Dr. Newton Jibunor himself and also the Mandela Gardens Project Supervisor, Chief. Onuora Aligbe, to merge with the beautiful array of other already flourishing trees, planted by top dignitaries at the Mandela Gardens, since the first tree was planted in 2013.

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