Restoring the Glory National Parks from Criminal Hideouts
By Mahmud Abdulsalam
It is worrisome how armed bandits, terrorists and kidnappers found safe havens in National Parks across the country. They turn the parks, dotted across the length and breathe of the country, into hideouts, and dens for perpetrating their heinous activities.
Approximately 1,129 square kilometres, it is safe to conclude that policing the parks will no doubt be a herculean task for any organisation in the business of providing security.
The concept of National Parks was first introduced in 1979 by the then Head of State and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR), who through Decree No. 46 of 1979 approved the establishment of Kainji Lake as the nation’s premier National Park.
The mission of the NPS is: to manage and regulate the use of these unique ecosystems designated as National Parks by such means and measures to preserve and conserve Nigeria’s heritage, particularly the fauna and flora, the habitats they live in, and the unique sceneries they afford.
Its mission is to also provide human benefits and enjoyment in such a manner and by such means so that these are left unspoiled for generations to come.
On the other hand, the NPS has as its vision, the task of developing a network of National Parks that can compete favourably with other National Parks in the world.
To achieve this, the Park Service is making efforts to put in place Operational Management Plans for each Park, and Systems Plan for the entire country.
A National Park System that meets the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians, and indeed the whole world, in preserving and protecting our natural heritage and the cultural relics that enliven them for generations to come.
For the National Park Service (NPS) itself, it will be taxing for its personnel to adequately secure, and safeguard the exotic biodiversities at the parks, without maximum support from sister security agencies.
The Nigerian military, though have its plate full as it continues to battle terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements, will soon see its troops recruited by the NPS to help achieve its mission of safeguarding its parks.
The leadership of the park service, at the moment, is seeking the support of the Nigerian armed forces to protect its forest reserves.
Conservator General (CG) of the NPS, Dr. Ibrahim Musa Goni, recently expressed the readiness of the Service to partner with the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) towards safeguarding the nation’s forest reserve.
The CG made this known when he led NPS management staff on a courtesy visit to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor at the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Abuja.
The visit was graced by the DHQ Departmental Chiefs and Directors. Among the NPS delegation were Assistant Conservators Dr Agboola Okofiyin, Mr Yakubu Mohammed Kolo, Mr Mohammed Kabir and Mr Yakubu Haruna Zull.
Dr Goni stated that the NPS was established for the purpose of protecting and conserving the biodiversity in the designated areas which he identified as national parks, game and forest reserves.
Dr Goni who applauded the AFN for supporting NPS thus far noted that there was the need to sustain the existing synergy, by working together to tackle the current security challenges facing the nation.
The CG further explained that the collaborative arrangement would be on combat training of NPS personnel and logistic support in order to boost the Agency’s mandate of securing the forest reserves.
According to him, “these forest reserves and national parks which are approximately 1,129 square metres have become a hideout for bandits and terrorists”.
Responding, the CDS, Gen Lucky Irabor, represented by the Chief of Defence Policy and Plans, Air Vice Marshal Dahiru Sanda reiterated the commitment of the AFN in collaborating with the NPS, describing the Service as a key agency in the security architecture of the nation.
He maintained that the relevant stakeholders must support the organization towards ensuring that the forests are well protected against criminalities.
The CDS charged NPS on the need to dominate the nation’s forests in terms of intelligence gathering and sharing of information with the military and other security agencies so as to checkmate every form of terror and other crimes.
Inter-agency collaboration like this one between the Nigerian armed forces, and the park service, is one with the potential to harvest a lot of goodies for both institutions.
But more importantly, it will help to offer maximum protection and guarantee safety for Nigeria’s exotic biodiversity, that is been threatened by various lethal forces, from all fronts.
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Report By: PRNigeria.com