By Ben Agande
ABUJA— Nigeria has so far committed about $34million (about N7billion) towards the deployment of troops and logistics support to the Malian crisis with an additional pledge of $5millionin further assistance.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who made this disclosure at the Donors’ Conference organized at the end of the 20th Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Tuesday, also revealed that 900 combat soldiers and 300 Air Force personnel are already on ground in Mali as part of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).
According to the president, Nigeria’s commitment was an expression of Nigeria’s desire to restore normalcy in Mali, noting that the country has undertaken the re-construction and refurbishment of a number of medical clinics in the military barracks of some of the Malian Defence and Security Forces, as part of the Security Sector Reform (SSR) intervention to the tune of US$5.5 million.
“The collaboration between these four organizations on this initiative is a clear demonstration of international solidarity, sympathy and cooperation required for a definitive resolution of the Malian crisis which has serious international consequences.
“Specifically, Nigeria has commenced the deployment of 900 combat soldiers and 300 Air Force personnel to Mali as part of AFISMA. Nigeria has so far provided about $32 million for the immediate deployment and logistic support for the troops.
“Prior to this, Nigeria dispatched relief and humanitarian relief and supplies amounting to US$2 million and Nigeria has undertaken the re-construction and refurbishment of a number of clinics in the military barracks of some of the Malian Defence and Security Forces, as part of the Security Sector Reform (SSR) intervention to the tune of US$5.5 million.”
He recalled that at the political level, he had visited Mali, in his capacity as co-mediator, on October 19, 2012, to urge national consultations and dialogue in Bamako, the Malian capital, with a view to promoting a united political front on the basis of the ECOWAS roadmap for the resolution of the crisis in Mali.
While extolling African countries for their support for Mali, the president assured that Nigeria’s support was a continuous process and “for this reason, the pledge I make today (of $5million) is a further expression of our commitment to a worthy international effort.”
He suggested however, that the funds generated in the Donors’ Conference should be used not only for defence and security purposes, but also for the provision of necessary humanitarian support.
Furthermore, he admonished that the ultimate resolution of the Malian crisis rested with the implementation of the ECOWAS peace plan, which provides for the restoration of constitutional order and promotion of democracy in the country.
He said the precarious situation in Mali called for cooperation, sacrifice and action on the part of strategic partners, the countries of the sub-region, Africa and indeed the entire international community.
“In the past, Africa surmounted many challenges with the support of the international community. As we commence the celebration of the golden jubilee anniversary of our unique continental organization, I have no doubt that even the challenge posed by the situation in Mali can be overcome as we work towards the inauguration of an era of peace, security, solidarity, stability, democracy and cooperation in our continent,” he declared.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the AU and Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, said the gains made in Mali militarily should be sustained while the political process is reenergised.
Even though the AU has set a target of $50 million, total pledges announced at the end of the conference was $455.53 million apart from other commitments made by the donors to contribute to the training of the Malian Defence Forces and other assistance