Moves to beef up security around National Parks
By Omeiza Ajayi, ABUJA
Against the continued resort by bandits to using Nigeria’s numerous forest reserves as safe-havens, the Federal Government has charged states to evolve mechanisms for securing the reserves as they fall under their purview
Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha gave the charge on Thursday at the first quarter, 2021 meeting of the Forum of the SGF and Secretaries to State Governments SSGs in Abuja.
He said the federal government on its part would strengthen the capacity of the National Parks Service to protect Nigeria’s 17 national parks against criminal gangs.
Mustapha said; “We all know that these criminal elements have turned our hitherto pristine Forest Reserves into an operational base and hide-out from which most of their activities are launched and sustained.
“Of course, we would still need our forests and other protected areas for the services they provide especially as foreign exchange-earners, sources of job creation, guaranteeing the availability of soil nutrients and water for food security, serving as carbon sinks for addressing climate change and providing a clement environment for a healthy living.
“Therefore, the challenge is for governments at the state level to put in place processes and mechanisms that were hitherto operational for maintaining sustainably managed forests, as all forests in the country belong to state governments.
“In a similar vein, the Federal Government will continue to strengthen the National Parks Service to ensure that all the previous Seven National Parks and the ten new ones created remain inviolate for use by criminal elements.
“I also want to thank the Forestry Association of Nigeria for the presentation they would make and call on them to also mobilise the forestry profession in the country in proffering contemporary and timely recommendations for consideration by governments at their various state levels consistent with the status of ownership of these forest reserves”.
He said in the recent past, Nigeria has been confronted with an inexplicable escalation of violence resulting in insecurity across the nation, adding that the development not only serves as a drain to national resources but creates a climate of uncertainty and challenges the ability of the nation to provide a convivial atmosphere for its citizens for daily living.
“Governments at all levels have been doing their utmost to address these challenges. However, its persistence calls for approaches that are more than the conventional and normal to involve all arms of government, all apparatus of government and most importantly those that have a relationship directly with the rural communities and the citizenry.
“The theme for this meeting ‘The Role of Secretaries to the State Governments in Strengthening Sub-National Level Security Architecture’ reflects the need for this Forum to ensure that all machinery of government works synergistically in resolving our present security challenges. This theme underscores the imperative for the security agencies to share their thoughts with the forum and thereby highlight critical areas in which we can provide the necessary support and facilitation for their kinetic strategies.
“Learning from a practical experience of dealing with the issue of banditry, we have also requested one of our members to share with us so that others with similar experiences can also exchange notes and by the end of the day we leave with practical steps and strategies to curtail this menace”, he added.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouk who spoke on ‘Strengthening National Poverty Eradication Strategy’ said the Ministry has established the National Social Register NSR aimed at capturing in detail, the data on all poor and vulnerable citizens in our country.
“So far, nearly 30 million individuals have been registered nationwide. To ensure that all stakeholders are carried along, the Ministry has commenced the socialization programme of the NSR to ensure that all MDAs recognize the need to harmonise, cooperate and mine the NSR for their project’s effectiveness.
Already the NSR has been successfully socialized among the Federal Ministers and the International Development Partners”, she stated.