From Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya, said the ongoing counter-insurgency and anti-banditry operations across the country has made the Nigerian Army to scale down its participation in peace support operations across the world.
Yahaya stated this at the opening of the maiden Nigerian Army Peace Support Operations seminar yesterday, in Abuja, with the theme “Nigeria in Contemporary Peace Support Operations Environment”.
He said Nigeria’s participation in peace support operations dated back to the 1960s with notable achievements and commendations that contributed to regional and global stability and peace. The COAS noted the various operations under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States, African Union and the United Nations. He said Nigeria has participated in more than 40 Peace Support Operations in Africa and across the world, as part of efforts to restore peace in conflict zones.
Yahaya said the participation in the operations was integral to sustaining Nigeria’s commitment to global security. He said that Nigeria had, in 2013, attained the enviable height of being the fifth largest Troop Contributing Country to UN peace support operations.
“We were subsequently constrained to scale down our participation mainly due to internal exigencies. With our renewed efforts at upscaling our participation again, it is important to have a forum such as this. It is to rub minds and share ideas on issues relating to contemporary peace support operations to keep pace with the ever dynamic nature of the operations. The army remains committed to improving Nigeria’s position as a force to reckon with in peace support operations,” he added.
Yahaya said the seminar was to deepen collaborations with sister services and other security agencies towards enhancing competencies. He said the contemporary operations environment is increasingly complex, ambiguous and volatile, requiring joint and multi-agency collaboration to harness the combined competencies of all.
Retired Lt.-Gen. Chikadibia Obiako, a former Military Adviser to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, commended the army for playing a leading role in global support operations.
Obiakor said the seminar was characteristically another first in the Nigerian army’s long history of setting the pace for innovations in the armed forces. He said the Nigerian army had continued to play a key role in ensuring global peace and stability through peace support operations.
He said the armed forces of Nigeria, and the Nigerian army, in particular, have shown immense commitment as major contributors to peacekeeping missions globally.
He commended the efforts of the Nigerian army to build the capacity of its peacekeepers, particularly military observers, staff officers and contingents.
He said this would enhance the capabilities and understanding of the participants, and build invaluable bonds necessary to optimise performance during internal security operations.
Obiakor, therefore, urged the participants to pay attention to the discussion and issues to enable them to build their capacities in peace support operations.
The Chief of Operations (Army), Maj.-Gen. Olufemi Akinjobi, said the seminar was to upscale the knowledge of the participants for optimal performance in contemporary peace support operations.
Akinjobi said the Nigerian army had continuously contributed to regional and global stability through consistent deployment of personnel for peace support operations, adding that the seminar would broaden participants’ perspectives on responsibilities that could be handled jointly and alternated by personnel of various organisations based on roles and functions. He said its success would be through the application of skills and experiences that would be gained.