The Nigerian Army on Tuesday donated two operational vehicles to the National Park Service (NPS) to support their operations and promote national security.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, represented by Chief of Army Standards and Evaluation, Maj.-Gen. Francis Azinta, made the donation to the Conservator-General, NPS, Alhaji Ibrahim Goni, in Abuja.
Buratai said: “I want to handover officially today these two brand new Hilux vehicles to the National Park Service to be used for patrol of our parks and forest reserves.
“We believe that if our parks and national reserves are very well patrolled, then the issues of banditry and kidnapping will be reduced to the barest minimum.
“What we have done by this presentation is to assure the national park service of Nigeria that we will continue to work with you to stamp out criminal elements within our parks and forest reserves.
“I assure you that all the Nigerian army bases and formations that are within the various places where you have parks and forest reserves will support you.
“In the area of training, we shall continue to support you and so, these vehicles are the beginning of the partnership we intend to have with you,” he said.
Responding, Goni thanked the Chief of Army staff and assured him that the vehicles would be used effectively.
“Concerned about the threat to our forest and national parks, the Chief of Army Staff directed that over 200 military personnel visit two national parks in April.
“What these soldiers saw baffled the Chief and this is the reason he decided to come to our aid by donating these two brand new vehicles.
“I want to assure you Sir that the vehicles will be used strictly for patrols to enhance the capacity of park Rangers towards effective protection and to improve the level of security in the country.”
Goni urged that the partnership between the Army and the Park service would be sustained and taken to higher levels in order to promote the collective efforts toward making Nigeria safe.
He called on other security agencies and para-military agencies to key into the gesture by coming to the aid of the national park service.
Conservator-General also called on state governors to also support the service so that the forest and national parks would be secured for tourism to thrive in the country.
Earlier, Maj.-Gen. A.O. Adetayo, Director of Procurement, Army Standards and Evaluation, disclosed that synergy between the army and the NPS was necessary to tackle criminal elements in the reserve areas and parks.
According to him, national parks and reserves are places where criminals hibernate to carry out their nefarious activities.
“The land mass of Nigeria is about 976,000 kilometres while the protected area is over 1,000 kilometres.
“There are seven parks and over 100 reserved areas that need to be effectively and adequately protected.
“The conservator general made a passionate appeal in the area of patrol vehicles and the chief of army staff pledged to donate two Hilux vans. We are ready to collaborate and this is the beginning,” he said.