Alhaji Ibrahim Goni, the Conservator-General, National Park Service has called for the full integration of the service into the nation’s security structure to enhance service delivery.
Goni made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.
“The service was re-classified by the Federal Government to a status of paramilitary organisation with effect from January 2014 but has not been fully integrated into the nation’s security architecture.
“Although, the paramilitary structure is gradually being put in place in the service with the appointment of key officers and change in designation which previously used to be the civil service structure.’’
Goni said that with the full integration, exchange of intelligence information would strengthen the security, promotion, preservation and conservation of the nation’s biodiversity.
“This intelligent information gathering and sharing will enhance our patrol and surveillance activities to rid the parks off trespassers.
“The high level of insecurity in the country is a major challenge to the service’s drive in promoting ecotourism as most tourists have reduced their patronage.
“Vulnerability of other protected areas that are contagious, adjacent and in some cases in close locations to the National Parks are exerting more pressure on the park.”
He said that the service had embarked on advocacy visits to sister agencies to seek collaboration for adequate protection of its parks.
“We have solicited for supports from the Nigerian Army, the DSS, Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Civil Defence Corp to ensure that our parks and their visitors are safe.
“We want a secured park for tourists both local and international, where families will spend their vacations with their eyes closed.’’
The C-G said that the service was working to make sure the seven parks across the country meet global acceptable standard.
“This involves renovation and upgrade of our facilities to international standards, strengthening the park rangers and developing job creation initiatives for the local communities.
“We want to have parks that can compete favourably with other parks around the world with the collaboration of all stakeholders we will achieve our dream parks.
“The nation’s high population density and dependence on natural sources for food, fibre and medicine demand that Nigerian pays more attention to the protection and conservation of its ecosystems.’’
He, however, called on Nigerians to look inward to appreciate and patronise the natural resources and priceless heritage that abound in the country.
“Nigerians travel abroad and spend money for recreation but in Nigeria, these facilities are being underutilised.
“I want to see a situation where we visit our parks for holidays and recreation to enjoy the natural resources that God has endowed the country with,’’ he added.