From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The African Union (AU) has kickstarted a process to ensure a fully-funded standby force to tackle the rising cases of terrorism and violent extremism on the African continent.
The move was disclosed in Abuja during the commencement of a three-day inaugural Lessons Learned Forum on African Union Peace Support Operation and African Standby Force.
The standby force which will be independent of outside powers, according to the AU, will serve as a proper mechanism for the continent.
In his remarks, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said critical lessons learnt were important for peace and security in Africa.
Onyeama added that a critical plank of Nigeria’s foreign policy has been peacekeeping operations in Africa.
While saying that the AU has mandated, authorised and endorsed about 27 Peace Support Operations (PSOs), Onyeama stated that Nigeria has participated actively in many of the PSOs.
Onyeama further said the AU Standby Force has become expedient considering the changing dynamics of conflicts in the region.
He called on the AU to resolve issues of complementarity, subsidiarity command and control and material coordination for the Africa standby force.
“This is an opportunity for AU intervention and collaboration,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama also said the AU should consider the AMISOM Model in Somalia, which stabilized the country.
Onyeama urged the AU to consider the Multi-National Joint Task Force(MNJTF) model with which Nigeria degraded the Boko Haram terrorists.
“We must chat how the AU standby Force will benefit from the AMISOM Model and the MNJTF model in terms of force generation, command and patrol, exit strategy, post- conflict and development efforts,” Onyeama stated.
On his part, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Mousa Faki, said the African continent is facing a troubled time in terms of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation.
Faki who was represented by the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, however said the AU is working with regional economic communities and regional mechanisms.
“It is essential that Nigeria as a leading member of the African Union, together with ECOWAS, as well as the G5 Sahel should address the issues of the Sahel becoming the under belly and the hot spot for terrorism export.”