By John Ikani
About 173 soldiers will be deployed to keep peace in Guinea Bissau as part the Nigeria’s contribution to global peace.
The Chief of Operations, Army Headquarters, Major General Oluwafemi Akinjobi, announced this on Thursday at the graduation and pre-deployment training of the troops from the Martin Luther Agwai Peacekeeping Centre in Jaji Kaduna State.
Akinjobi, who was represented by Maj-Gen. Zakari Abubakar, Director Peace Operation Army Headquarters said the 173 troops to be deployed consist of 163 soldiers and 10 officers.
While noting that Nigeria remained the beacon of peace and the gatekeeper of the ECOWAS sub-region, Akinjobi explained that Nigerian peacekeepers had helped restore peace in many conflict areas around the world, which had earned them many national and individual commendations from several missions.
He appreciated the Chief of Army Staff for his relentless support and strategic guidance of the centre and Nigerian army.
Earlier, Commandant of the centre, Major General Auwal Fagge, said the aim of the pre-deployment training was to equip the earmarked unit with requisite skills and knowledge to function effectively and efficiently in their deployment to Guinea Bissau.
Fagge assured that the troops who have undergone four weeks intensive training including cordon and search as well as weapon handling are adequately equipped to keep the peace in the mission area.
He charged the troops to carry out their duties bearing in mind the multinational, as well as cultural religious diversities of the operating environment, which underscores the need for courtesy and respect for others.
What you should know
Guinea-Bissau, one of the world’s poorest nations, has been plagued by chronic political instability since gaining independence in 1974.
The small nation of about two million people bordering Senegal and Guinea, has a history of coups. From its independence from Portugal in 1974 until Tuesday’s coup, it has seen a string of military coups, the most recent of which was successful in 2012.
In February, President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who has been in power since 2020, escaped a coup attempt. The Government House, on the road to the airport, was attacked by gunmen while the head of state and members of his government were holding an extraordinary council of ministers.
The 49 year old escaped unharmed from the Government House, which was the scene of heavy gunfire for several hours. Eleven people died in the assault, according to the government. The motives of the attackers remain a mystery.