Army to convert Sambisa Forest to tourist centre–Buratai

Jude Johnson The Nigerian Army in a symbolic move to signify the gains of the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations, is to convert the erstwhile Boko Haram safe haven, Sambisa forest into an eco-tourism centre. This was disclosed in Abuja on Monday by the Chief of Army staff (COAS),  Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, at the opening…

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Jude Johnson

The Nigerian Army in a symbolic move to signify the gains of the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations, is to convert the erstwhile Boko Haram safe haven, Sambisa forest into an eco-tourism centre.

This was disclosed in Abuja on Monday by the Chief of Army staff (COAS),  Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, at the opening of  seminar on regimentation and combating security challenges associated with forests and protected areas of Nigeria.

Buratai said he has directed the relevant Nigerian Army departments including the Department of Army Standards anf Evaluation to begin work towards convrrting parts of Sambisa Forest recently decimatef in the fight against Boko Haram into tourism centers with zoos and parks.

According to him, Sambisa forest have every feature of a durable Ecosystem Tourist Center that will generate revenue for the country.

He also said that he has directed for the establishment of mini-zoos and parks in Army barracks and formations across the country.

Buratai who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Maj-Gen. Ali Nani, said, “The affinity between soldiers and animals are assumed to bring good luck. It is generally believed that the spirit lodged in the mascots propels a fighting force to victory. This belief creates high level of morale and psychological spirit of courage in troops“.

He added that Barracks Investment Initiative Programme is aimed at encouraging personnel to engage in agro-allied activities and ventures whereby animals are kept in ranches the barracks.

He tasked the National Park Service to be proactive while stating that various parks and forests in Nigeria such as Kuyan Bana, Dan Saudau and Sububu in Zamfara State, Allawa Games Reserve, Pandogari and Kagara Forests in Niger State, Falgore Games Reserve in Kano State if properly harnessed will boost tourism activities.

Others are Allargano, Sambisa, Chingurmi-Bugama axis of Chad Basin National Parks in Borno State, Guljba Forest in Yobe State, Rugu Forest in Katsina State, Lame Bura and Balmo Forests in Bauchi State are now sanctuaries for criminals, kidnappers, armed bandits, insurgents and terrorists.

He said: “Ordinarily one would wonder what could be the point of convergence between the regimentation in the Army, our floras and faunas, forests and national security. To give reasons for this seminar permit me to delve into history for a better understanding.

“As you all know the Army as part of its customs ethics and tradition adopts mascots as part of its regimentation. Mascots are objects, animals or persons that are chosen as a symbol of a regiment and are assumed to bring good luck. The word ‘Mascot’ originates from the French term ‘Mascotte’ which means lucky charm.”

“It was first used in 1867 and popularized by a French Composer Edmond Audran. The earliest record of the customs of the Army adopting Mascot is that of a goat belonging to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in the 1775 American War of Independence. In our own clime, warriors of old go to war with dogs leading in front to give early warning.

“This age long practice and tradition is therefore part of Army regimentation all over the world and the Nigerian Army is not an exception. The affinity between soldiers and animals are assumed to bring good luck. It is generally believed that the spirit lodged in the mascots propels a fighting force to victory. This belief creates high level of morale and psychological spirit of courage in troops.’

“Domesticated animals and some tamed wild fauna such as dogs, goats, horses, mules, camels, peak corks, eagles, jackals, foxes, lions, tigers to mention but a few live in the forests and are important aspects of the overall ecosystem. It is therefore imperative to note that all animals and plants in the ecosystem co-exist to balance each other out to ensure a perfect nature.

“It is for this purpose that environmentalists, scientists, Park Rangers, Park Wardens, Forest Rangers and Vet Doctors are required to ensure that they preserve the continual existence of these floras and faunas. In effecting these Forests, Wild Life and National Parks are designated in various countries of the world for the protection and preservation of these animals as well as the Forests and Parks.”

He further said: “National Parks are actually designated protected areas that are clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values. The variety of our native species and the ecosystem forms the conservation of biodiversity which is a vital aspect needed in safeguarding our economy, cultural, spiritual and aesthetic values.

“These National and Wild Life Parks provides a safe haven for our animals and native plants. They also serve as places of tourism that if well harnessed would be a source of foreign exchange earnings.

“Unfortunately today most of these animals are being poached illegally and our forests and parks such as Kuyan Bana, Dan Saudau and Sububu in Zamfara State, Allawa Games Reserve, Pandogari and Kagara Forests in Niger State, Falgore Games Reserve in Kano State. Others are Allargano, Sambisa, Chingurmi-Bugama axis of Chad Basin National Parks in Borno State, Guljba Forest in Yobe State, Rugu Forest in Katsina State, Lame Bura and Balmo Forests in Bauchi State that are now sanctuaries for criminals, kidnappers, armed bandits, insurgents and terrorists. Forests and Wild Life Park managers have been sacked from their jobs.”

“There is gradual deforestation which in itself constitutes danger for the ecosystem. All these have constituted a challenge to our national security thus necessitating the setting up of Operation Lafiya Dole in the North East and other operations nationwide. As I speak now, Ex Harbin Kunama IV is being launched in Gusau, Zamfara State.

“The Exercise will later dovetail into real time operation. This Ex will involve large scale employment of personnel and logistics movement to cover Suburu, Kagara, Gando, Dumburum forests in Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states respectively. The aim is to flush out bandits and insurgents groups from some identified forest areas.

“The Exercise/Operation will be intelligent driven and highly mobile in nature while integrating other security agencies and collaborating with paramilitary organizations to enhance the posture of the troops and the successful conduct of the operation. There is the need therefore for all stakeholders to come together to deliberate on how to salvage our forests and parks from poachers, insurgents, terrorists, kidnappers, cattle rustlers and armed bandits.

“The Nigerian Army in retrospect established the Barracks Investment Initiative Programme in which personnel were encouraged to engage in agro-allied activities and ventures in which animals are kept in ranches within our barracks. I have also just directed the Department of Army Standards and Evaluation to ensure that my directive for the establishment of Mini Zoos in all NA Barracks is enforced to the later.

“Units and formations are encouraged to get animals that include their mascots and some others within their Areas of Responsibilities to populate the Zoos. This will go a long way to preserve our local animals.

“Similarly all battalions and regiments are expected to have their own mascots duly approved by the Department of Army Administration with allotted Army Numbers for payment of personal emolument required for their upkeep.

“I have also directed that the Sambisa Forest should be turned into an Ecosystem Resort Centre where war relics of the past few years in the North East will be maintained as historical sites for tourism that will attract scholars and tourists as well as a revenue generating venture for the country.

“These Seminar therefore would not have come at a better time than this when our Nation is poised more than ever before to attain a change for the future. We need to look into areas of economic diversity. The Theme of this Seminar which is “Enhancing Synergy between the Nigerian Army and National Park Service: National Security in Perspective” is therefore apt”.

Earlier in his remarks, the Chief of Standards and Evaluation (CASE), Nigerian Army, Major General Adekunle Shodunke said the seminar is aimed at reflecting on current realities as it concern the on going counter insurgency operations across the country as well as to tackle the various security challenges in line with the vision of the Chief of Army Staff.

Major Gen Shodunke thanked the COAS for providing the necessary logistics and equipment for troops while noting that the use of Mascots is an age long methodology.

The five days seminar with a theme “Enhancing Synergy between the Nigerian Army and National Park Service: National Security in Perspective” was declared open by the COAS on Monday.

The post Army to convert Sambisa Forest to tourist centre–Buratai appeared first on Global Sentinel.

Source:Global Sentinel

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