by Lekan Olanrewaju
In a move that will serve to yet again underscore just how great a neighbour Nigeria is, the country is set to deploy troops to Guinea-Bissau this month. Speaking on Monday at a meeting of ECOWAS Defence Chiefs, Defence Minister Bello Haliru Mohammed said that the troops would be joining a group of military peace-keepers being sent to the country by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
“I will like to announce to you the pledges made by Nigeria for the Guinea-Bissau and Mali mission,” Mohommed made known. “We are committed to them and our troops are ready. We will deploy before the 18th of this month.”
“As you know our sub-region is plagued with challenges of insecurity and also instability in some of the countries. The CDS (Chiefs of Defence Staff) are here to discuss how the intervention of ECOWAS will help to bring security and to stabilise the country where instability is rearing its head, this is on the instruction of the Head of States of the ECOWAS.”
“On Guinea Bissau, a decision has already been made that a military contingent from the ECOWAS will be sent to assist the government in maintaining law and order.
He also revealed that Nigeria had not been invited to send any troops yet, but was prepared regardless.
“Nigeria, as a leading member of ECOWAS, will participate when invited,” the minister said. “ECOWAS is sending one battalion but the contribution of Nigeria depends on when we are invited.”
Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Oluseyi Petinrrin also said the troops were ready and simply waiting for the word from the government.
“The decision to send troops will be made by government,” Petinrrin submitted. “Our job is to be prepared so that when they decide to deploy we will be ready. And, it is possible they [the governments] have decided, but have not announced it. Right now, we have constitutional order [in the continent] ; the two countries are no longer been headed by military people because they were told in certain terms that it will not be accepted and they have stepped down in both countries.’’