By JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU
ABUJA—FORMER Polish Ambassador to Nigeria, Grezgorz Walinski has said that Nigeria has spent about $13 billion on peacekeeping operations since 1960 and has also sent over 250,000 members of the Nigerian armed forces to the United Nation’s sponsored missions worldwide.
Ambassador Walinski disclosed this at the stakeholders’ dinner reception for the Nigeria Security Exhibition and Conference, 2014, organised by First Security Guards Limited in Abuja.
He noted that despite the numerous contributions of the country in peace operations, it was assumed that the country had not taken full advantage of its active participation in the numerous peace operations around the world by not getting commensurate economic, military and political remuneration for its participation.
He cited countries like Ghana that had also participated in numerous UN PSOs but generated funds through the process to defray the costs of sustaining its military, while Nigeria on the other hand had largely allegedly deprived itself of such benefits.
According to him, the country started peacekeeping operations few days after her independence in 1960 in Congo and since then, the country’s forces have participated in many operations across the globe under varying international legal authority executing a variety of operational mandates.
He said: “Her contribution to the UN peacekeeping operations is only surpassed by those of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Over 250,000 members of the Nigerian armed forces have participated in UN sponsored missions worldwide.”
“Having been involved in 40 of the 55 peacekeeping missions of the UN, Nigeria has now participated in 73 percent of all UN peacekeeping operations. Four of these missions have been commanded by Nigeria senior military officers. Nigeria currently has about 6, 000 peacekeepers in various flashpoints, 4, 000 of which are in Darfur, Sudan,” he stated.
The former Polish Ambassador to Nigeria further said that many potential conflicts were effectively prevented due to Nigerian diplomacy. Therefore, Nigeria’s direct involvement as chief mediator in a number of territorial disputes and crises effectively allowed to avoid them and in consequence eliminated the threat of their development into full-scale conflicts.
Ambassador Walinski noted that the international community was getting fatigued and increasingly reluctant to intervene in Africa’s conflicts, adding, “During last two decades, we witnessed gradual but inevitable shift from foreign intervention carried on by European military contingents to establishments and strengthening of Africa’s own capability to prevent, to monitor and to resolve crises which inevitably will erupt.”
He said that the country was faced with myriads of security challenges but added that the “Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Viola Onwuliri has assured the international community that Nigeria would continue to work in the area of preventive diplomacy.”
He said the main problem of the country was terrorism, though it would not change the country’s position as regional leader, stressing that the country had always succeeded in learning from her experiences and making her experiences the source of even greater power.
He also said that the idea of organizing the security exhibition at the FCT was important as it served as a forum where all actors both state and private sectors and those that have the right to use power and those who can supply them with the products would come together and discuss security matters and also proffer solutions.
Speaking earlier, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of First Security Guards who also is the chief organizer of NISEC, 2014, Frank Ohwafa said the reception was organized to bring together all stakeholders in preparation for the 2014 Nigeria Security Exhibition and Conference, NISEC, homeland security show.
Ohwafa said First Security Guards had in the past collaborated with other security agencies in areas of capacity building and competence needed in an ever changing environment to fight and combat crime and criminality.
“In year 2007, First Security Guards signed a partnership with the Nigeria Police to train and retrain her personnel in contemporary policing and crime fighting,” he stated and commended the National Security Adviser for using his office and appointment to promote peace and security, enduring lasting security platforms for better coordination of the security agencies.