Nigerian forests: The Giant Strides of Boko Haram

By Frank Meke

Three weeks ago, Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate the world Forest Day. The celebration was not gregarious and loud. It was just like any other drab and rustic outing, the type the very poor ones of the earth do engage in.

Except for the true caregivers of Mother Earth, the Park Rangers, and the global forest conservation family, Nigerians across the divide simply don’t care.

We are too hungry, politically active on the wrong side of life, to know that our tropical rain forest ecosystem under protection contributes about ten per cent of the global biodiversity lifeline.

Our population is on overdrive. We can eat anything from the bush with releash. We are quick to destroy our natural habitats for elephantine projects and can pad anything in the name nature, yet will be the first stand against natural resources Conservation.

Now, with intense, unusual heat wave exposing us to the fight back from an abused natural resources environment, we sweat it out in pains with hushed voices in agony and ignorance.

Climate change and carbon emissions economy is strange to us. Few years ago a very distraught and angry former governor of kaduna state, el Rufia advocated for carpet bombing of the forest areas in kaduna state, particularly kamuku National Park which he believed were safe haven for insurgents, the Boko Haram family terrorising the state.

Let us not discuss the great green walls built across the northern fringes of Borno, Zamfara, sokoto, Taraba, and Yobe states by both state and federal governments with support from the international community to help check the impact of desertification and also to aid reforestation interventions but unfortunately became defence and attack frontlines for Boko Haram activists.

Unknown to many people, the green biosphere space harbours natural resources, which have become the new face of war advanced as a religious shenanigan to deceive many unassuming Nigerians.

There is no doubt that the seemingly unending war by Boko Haram against the Nigerian state is largely a battle to overrun the Nigerian mineral and forest ecosystem, which is a goldmine

Now, let me try to map these large mineral and forest areas , starting from Niger state, part of kwara sharing borders with Niger state, Oyo, kaduna, Plateau, Nassarawa and Bauchi. The rest you can map through detailed tracking of elephants from kaduna forests to and from Bauchi, Sambisa( Borno/ chad Basin) , and Zamfara to the borders

These areas are laced with tremendous biodiversity advantages and mineral resources and so rightly in the red eyes of insurgents who are also deep illegal mining of natural resources, exploitation of flora and fauna resources and basking in their very lucrative export receipts

In Niger state belt , which is undoubtedly one of richest biosphere space in Nigeria, Kainji Lake National Park to be precise, nourished by the River Niger and green space at the border with Benin Republic, stands years back as the peacock of Nigerian biosphere kingdom. Tourism used to thrive here.

The late Emir of Borgu, Senator ( Dr) Haliru Dantoto, kitoro the third, the mai Borgu, was a big terror to those with eyes on invading the large mineral and agricultural space in Borgu land while he was alive.

Indeed, no one, no matter who you are, dared enter into Borgu forests or pollute its waters without incurring the wrath of the late cerebral king.

I recalled when information reached him that Boko Haram activists chased out from Borno were regrouping and recruiting young persons in Borgu land. The late Emir quickly called a town hall meeting and informed his subjects to warn their children and report strangers in the town to him, and with a promise to personally drive out of town such persons or family found to be either sympathetic or seen to harbour Boko Haram activists.

Borgu land is gone and is in the hands of terrorists. The famous whispering Kainji Lake National Park has been overrun by Boko Haram activists, with its natural resources plundered. There is no help in sight as the people, particularly villagers, the support zone communities were forced into open support for a plebiscite government of Boko Haram to save their lives and what is remaining of their ancestral inheritance.

From karunji, Yashikira, down to the borders with Benin Republic, a live replay of race to nikki, the age long British expedition to partition Borgu land away from the rampaging army of the French frontier force back in 1897, is back on the beat but this time around and in the 21st century, by Boko Haram militants who have effectively taken control of the entire Borgu forest space.

These guys are new lords of minor, decides who lives, and who should not. They licence illegal miners and loggers and provide them with protection. The luxury homes inside Kainji Lake at oli camp have been stripped bare of expensive furniture , air-conditioners, and other livable accessories .

The late reverred Emir, Dr( senator) Haliru Dantoro, must be disappointed and unhappy in the afterworld. The late prophetic king must be angry in his grave. The Borgu nation has no defender of their ancestral lands. Even rare species of fauna and flora resources are defenceless.

The Nigerian army has tried to keep the insurgents away, but hampered by land mines buried underground, which has become a major draw back in the battle to reclaim Borgu land.

Expressly worrisome is that the gains of green biosphere tourism to which the Borgu land is noted is dead. The famous lander Brothers used to visit here in years gone, and even organise fishing expeditions on River Niger which flourishes the waterbed of the Kainji Lake .

Iconic flora species dotting the biosphere landscape had been illegally harvested by the insurgents who use the proceeds to beef up their armoury and also run their well organised government. Indeed, the once flourishing natural resources conservation enclave is no more.

Can the government of governor Baggo of Niger state retake ancient Borgu land from the rampaging army of insurgents? Only time will tell.

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