Dear Mr President, it’s time for forest guards

Dear Mr President, it’s time for forest guards Published By: Paul Dada

By Paul Dada

Nigeria isn’t smiling. The recent spate of abductions and killings by criminals even in the Federal Capital Territory, the seat of federal power, is one that puts you continuously in the mood of despondency.

Terrorism, banditry and insurgency have defined Nigeria since the tenure of ex- President Goodluck Jonathan. The situation became worse under his successor, Muhammadu Buhari. We had thought insecurity would be effectively tackled under Buhari given the fact he was a military General. But things progressively got worse under him.

According to data from the Nigeria Security Tracker, not less than 25,794 people were killed in various attacks during the first term of President Muhammadu Buhari between May 2015 and May 2019.
Many more thousands were definitely killed during his second term.

I remember during the period, i was among those that called for the service chiefs to be replaced as I believed those holding sway then had run out of ideas. But even after they were replaced there was no significant improvement in the security situation in the country.

During the electioneering campaign, President Bola Tinubu promised to set up the forest guards to police the bushes. I thought that was a brilliant idea. Bandits who storm the cities to kill, main and kidnap often take their victims through paths in the bush. It is no easy task for the police and other security agencies to combat criminals who operate from the bush.

Although, Tinubu has taken steps to embark on unprecedented economic reforms, whatever gains the country hopes to have from those, are now being effectively undermined by the new wave of kidnappings and killings around the country especially Abuja. I am pretty certain that the President knows that his efforts to inspire foreign investors’ confidence in Nigeria is being threatened.

President Bola Tinubu

There is now a louder call for the President to keep to his campaign promise to give Nigerians the forest guards to patrol and guard the country’s forests. In December, following the Christmas eve attacks launched by evil people in some Plateau communities, which led to the deaths of 115 people, a group, the Northern Christian Youth Professionals (NCYP) in a statement signed by its President, Isaac Abrak, reminded Tinubu of his campaign promise concerning the forest guards.

In that statement he wanted the recruitment of youths residing in communities at the fringes of forests that have become hotbeds for terrorist activities as they would be good for intelligence gathering purposes.

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He said: “These communities have been targeted for many years, and it is imperative that we empower the youths to take an active role in securing their own environments.

“Our belief is grounded in the understanding that these youth, intimately familiar with their forested surroundings, can effectively identify law-abiding citizens and distinguish them from criminals.

“Their vast knowledge of the terrain equips them to monitor and track the activities of these nefarious elements, thereby contributing significantly to the efforts against terrorism”

I agree with the group. Earlier in January, as a guest analyst on TVC’s flagship programme, Journalists’ Hangout, I emphasised the need for President Tinubu to do something about the promise of giving us the forest guards.

Two days after or so, I was happy to read that the President was talking about it again. The Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Mr Bayo Onanuga, in a message he posted on his X handle said Tinubu was planning for the establishment of better-trained forest guards the marine police, solid mineral police.

Onanuga wrote, “He (Tinubu) mentioned three brand new police formations, to augment the regular police. He said the deployment of forest guards was being considered, with better training, modern technological gadgets and weapons to strengthen security”.

It is good to know that President Tinubu still thinks about establishing the forest guards. But when will this happen? It has to be soon. It just has to be.



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