The Nigerian Army says the Sambisa Forest should be turned into an Ecosystem Resort Centre where war relics in the North East will be maintained as historical sites for tourism.
Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, disclosed this at a seminar organised by the Army Headquarters, Department of Standards and Evaluation on “Regimentation and Combating Security Challenges Associated with Forests and Protected Areas’’ in Abuja on Monday.
Buratai, who was represented by Maj. Gen. Ali Nani, Chief of Policy and plans, declaring open the seminar, said that the war relics would attract scholars and tourists and as well serve as a revenue generating venture for the country.
The theme for the seminar is: “Enhancing Synergy Between Nigerian Army and the National Park Service: National Security in Perspective’’.
“I know that the papers that would be delivered by erudite scholars who are highly revered professionals will stimulate rich interactive sessions that will lead to a workable communiqué for the project.
“The Nigerian Army under my command will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders to achieve my vision of having a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional role.
“This is an opportunity for us all to be more involved in regimentation and synergise with relevant stakeholders to preserve our floras and faunas.
“To make our forests safe and build capacity to develop the needed progress for national security.’’
Maj. Gen. Adekunle Shodunke, the Chief of Army Standards and Evaluation (CASE), said that the weeklong seminar was to discuss the point of convergence between the regimentation in the Army, “our floras and faunas as well as forests and national security’’.
“The seminar will be in two parts, first, is a two-day lectures and interactive session and second is a field trip to two national parks, namely Kainji Lake and Cross River National Parks.
“The essence of this seminar is to enlighten participants on regimentation, maintenance of mascots and establishment of parks and mini zoos in Nigerian Army Cantonments and Barracks.
“It will assist to build capacity of troops in combating the emerging security challenges associated with game reserves, forests and protected areas across the nation,’’ he said.
Dr Agboola Okeyoyin, the Assistant Conservator-General, National Park Service, during the presentations of his Paper titled: “Protected Area Management and National Security’’, said that some of the Nigeria’s forests had turned to den of criminals.
“Nigeria has been facing a lot of security challenges as some of the protected areas in the country are now den of criminals due total lack or poor management of the conservation enclaves.
“The activities of bandits and criminal elements in such protected areas through illegal logging, cattle rustling and other criminal vices have made these areas uninhabitable for animals,’’ he said.
Okeyoyin, however, said that there was now a high sense of apprehension that urgent action must be taken to salvage the situation.
“This will require effective and purposeful synergy between all stakeholders to curtail the security challenges peculiar to some forests, game reserves and national parks in Nigeria.
“Hence the organisation of this all important seminar aimed at developing synergy between the National Park Service and the Nigerian army and to provide technical knowledge of the Forests and Parks in Nigeria.
According to him, management of reserved areas include, Scientific Reserve/Strict Nature Reserve, National Park, Natural monument/Natural Landmark, Managed Nature.
“Reserve/Wildlife Sanctuary, Protected landscape or seascape, Resource Reserve, Natural Biotic Area/Anthropological Reserve, Multiple-Use Management Area/Managed Resource Area,’’ he said.
According to him, Nigeria’s protected area system is made up of seven National Parks, 30 Game Reserves, four Game Sanctuaries, a strict Nature Reserves and one Biosphere Reserve.
“There are also about 1,129 Forest Reserves spread across the country that do not fit into the definition for various reasons,’’ he said.
He called for more collaborations with relevant stakeholders to conserve the country’s nature.