By SUMAILA OGBAJE
ABUJA- The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya, says the Nigerian Army will continue to balance its participation in Peace Support Operations vis-a-vis ongoing Internal Security Operations.
Yahaya said this at the closing of the maiden Nigerian Army Peace Support Operations seminar on Thursday, in Abuja.
He was represented by the Chief of Operations (Army), Maj.-Gen. Olufemi Akinjobi, at the seminar with the theme “Nigeria in Contemporary Peace Support Operations Environment”.
He said that while the Nigerian army had renewed its drive at up-scaling its participation in peace support operations, it was not oblivious of the myriad of security challenges bedeviling the nation.
According to him, this is also considering that Nigerian army’s internal security operations could be supported from accruals to Nigeria from the UN thereby augmenting government’s support to the Nigerian army.
The COAS said that Nigerian army’s continuous participation in peace support operations and contribution to regional and global peace would project its military and diplomatic element of national power.
He added the participation would also enhance its relevance in the comity of nations.
Yahaya said the objective of the seminar. which was to provide an avenue for participants to interact and share experiences as well as exchange ideas in peace support operations was achieved.
“It is believed that the knowledge gained here will significantly contribute to better preparations and performances in our current and future participation in peace support operations,’’ he said.
The Chief of Operations, Maj.-Gen. Akinjobi, said the seminar of such nature was long overdue, adding that Nigeria had a lot of experience in peace support operations.
He said that Nigeria was at one time the third largest troops contributing nation to the UN peace support operations globally, adding that it played leading roles in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
He said the Nigerian army had continued to send troops for peace support operations in spite of its commitment to internal security operations across the country.
According to him, it is based on all these that it is necessary to begin to look ahead into the future into how they can properly do things better.
“It is remembering some of the challenges we have had in the past and trying at this time to bring in experts from different fields to guide us and to offer their views.
“We want to see how we can invest all into whatever support policy we will come up with,’’ he said.
Retired Maj.-Gen. Moses Obi, a former Chief of Training and Operations (Army), commended army leadership for organising the seminar being a major contributor to please support operations.
Obi, who was one of the resource persons at the seminar, said the seminar had enabled them to share ideas and try to send ideas to appropriate authorities.
He said that Nigeria’s major role in stabilising West Africa made the seminar to be important and appropriate.
Mrs Julie Sanda, a Principal Research Fellow at the National Defence College, said the seminar was timely particularly at a time the nation is grappling with security challenges.
Sanda said the popular discourse had been that since the nation was facing its own challenges it should not participate in peace support operations.
She said the current challenges had shown that there was actually a connection between Nigeria’s internal challenges and those of its neighbours and the international community.
“So, I think it is important that we have gathered over these three days to look at these issues together,’’ she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the seminar had participants from the military, security and intelligence agencies as well as other relevant stakeholders. (NAN)