The Commandant National Defence College (NDC), Rear Adm. Murtala Bashir, says Nigeria currently contributes 679 peacekeepers, deployed to various missions to enhance global Peace Support Operations. Admiral Bashir said this at the opening of the seminar on “Future of Peace Support Operations”, for participants of Course 31 of the college on Tuesday, in Abuja.
“Nigeria currently has 310 peacekeepers which is inclusive of military, police and civilians in UN missions, 200 in ECOWAS missions, 54 in UN/AU Hybrid missions and 115 in the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF),” he said.
He noted that the internal security challenges had reduced the number of troops contributed by Nigeria to the global peace keeping operations. The commandant added that Nigeria now ranked 44 instead of 4th globally and 19 instead of 1st in Africa. “As at 2010, Nigeria was the 4th global contributor to peacekeeping and 1st in Africa with 5,815 troops deployed to various missions. “However, due to the internal security challenges, which the country is grappling with, the country as at 2022 is now ranked 44 globally, and 19 in Africa. “The UN General Assembly notes that PSO development has declined in about 10 countries globally which calls for alarm,” he said.
According to him, presently, the future of PSOs is uncertain because the threats to world peace and security, which require such interventions do not only continue to occur, but also present new and frightening dimensions particularly since 9/11. “The future is also uncertain for the same reasons, as these new threats challenge state sovereignty, for example, the case of Somalia. “More so, the combined international assets deployable in the planning and execution of peace operations are under increasing pressure to cope. “In addition, owing to the digital era we are in, technology in the hands of the non-state armed groups have made peace difficult to keep,” he said.
Bashir said the development had queried the place for preventive deployment in diplomacy, protecting the protectors and also protection of civilians in peace operations. “It is, therefore, important that the peacekeeping landscape leverage on the Fourth Industrial Revolution to improve on the protection of civilians as well as the protection of the protectors.” He said that the current realities and the projections for the future of PSOs had great implications globally, regionally and also for Nigeria. According to him, the seminar is borne out from the burning contemporary issues that have limited the operations of Peacekeeping, the uncertainty of the safety of peacekeepers and the attainment of its objectives.
The Deputy Director and Coordinator of PSOs, Ministry of Defence, Col. Abdulmalik Adamu, lauded Nigeria’s participation in the peace operations in spite of its internal security challenges. He, however, noted with concern that in spite of its contribution to global peace, Nigeria was yet to have policy on PSOs, calling on the NDC to ensure workable policy on PSOs.
Another discussant, a former Ghanaian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Amb. William Awinador-Kanyirige, said that Nigeria like any other pivotal country in Africa had a critical role to play in PSOs.
Awinador-Kanyirige, while stressing the need for Nigeria to occupy its divine position in peace keeping operation, advised African Union on reviewing its standby force. He said that there was also the need for collaboration and partnership with peer review mechanism. He said, “we are part of history, the world is changing and Africa must occupy its strategic position. It is supposed to be strategic and take its positing like China and India.”
Amb Bankole Adeoye Commissioner for Political Affairs Peace and Security, represented by Coulibacy Bekaye, Acting Head, Peace Support Operations Division ECOWAS, highlighted the issue of preventive security. Musah, while commending Nigeria’s intervention in different countries of West Africa, where it had maintained peace, stressed the need to fortify the ECOWAS standby force to actualise its goal.
Also speaking, retired Lt Gen. Chikadibia Obiakor, stressed the need for experts to deal with PSOs, adding that there was the need to interface with the UN and project Nigeria participation in peace keeping. Obiakor said that there was the need for robust peace keeping, adding that the nation was yet to exploit all its capabilities, especially in the area of civilians participation.