By Mukhtar Ya’u Madobi
Nigeria is referred to as the “Giant of Africa”, largely owing to its strong economy and large population among other African countries. Nigeria has therefore continued to maintain this position by demonstrating good and quality leadership aimed at fast-tracking progress for the entire continent.
Nigeria’s goal is not only to ensure and maintain peace and security within its territory, but having the sole aim to ensure that appropriate security architecture is also mounted throughout the region for peace, development and stability to reign.
Through bilateral and multilateral agreement with other nations within the region and beyond, Nigeria was able to contribute immensely to providing sanity and solidity across various institutions both at home and between its sister countries.
During conflict situations, especially in the African continent, Nigeria had always stood to be the largest contributor of military personnel and other forms of technical assistance in the affected countries so as to restore normalcy. Professional military engagement of Nigeria was clearly demonstrated when they led the twin peace missions that returned stability in Liberia and Sierra Leone, just to mention but few.
Recently, in early February, Nigerian National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno has engaged his United Kingdom counterpart, Stephen Lovegrove, in a dialogue bordering on a range of issues including counter-terrorism, serious and organised crime, civilian policing and human rights. The three days long dialogue is the first of its kind since the formation of the ‘UK-Nigeria Security and Defence Partnership’ in 2018.
The latest version of National Security Strategy (NSS, 2019) released by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), retired Major General Babagana Monguno, has apparently captured and elucidated the contribution of Nigeria to international security by saying:
“Active participation in UN peacekeeping missions remains a fundamental pillar of our foreign policy. Nigeria has been a major contributor of troops and police to the UN since 1960. We have deployed military contingents, unarmed military observers, staff officers, police formed units and advisers to more than 25 missions globally.”
“Our troops constituted the military backbone of peacekeeping efforts in Liberia and Sierra Leone; initially as part of ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) and later under UN peacekeeping operation – UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and UN Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). We will continue to promote global peace and international security through our commitment and deployment to peacekeeping efforts.”
With the spate of military coups currently ongoing across African countries, Nigeria has been rendering diplomatic assistance through regional organisations including African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This is to ensure that the affected nations return to the path of democracy and that the respect for the rule of law is equally safeguarded.
Recall that, a number of African countries are currently under the control of Juntas who have seized power after ousting the democratically-elected Presidents in various coup d’états. The countries are Mali, Guinea, and Sudan as well as Burkina Faso that recently joined the list. Meanwhile, the military also took over in Chad after the late President Idris Deby died due to injuries sustained in the battlefield.
Up to now, the regional organizations and other international communities have been working in collaborations with Nigeria to ensure a successful transition from military to democratic government in these countries.
Nigeria’s engagement on the African continent towards international security is not only restricted to peacekeeping operations, but also entails mediation in crisis situations. This is cognizant of the fact that mediation is an increasingly popular dispute resolution mechanism throughout the world as it provides a more cost-effective alternative.
As a result of this status, the ECOWAS has appointed Nigeria’s ex-president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as special envoy to Mali in order to head its mediation mission. The aim is to focus on facilitating dialogue with all Malian parties including the opposition leaders, religious organizations and civil societies to resolve the worsening socio-political situation in the country.
Apart from military support, Nigeria has also been giving interventions to African countries across various imperative institutions. Nigeria provides succor to education, health and judiciary systems of many countries in the region through Technical Aid Corps.
“Nigeria’s development assistance to our neighbours and other countries in sub Saharan Africa is part of fostering mutual peace and security in the region. We will continue to extend development assistance not only to our neighbours, but other countries. We will also strengthen the Technical Aid Corps (TAC), a programme under which Nigeria deploys experts in education, health and other human endeavours to render developmental services and capacity building in the receiving countries.”
“We will equally sustain deployment of judicial officers to other countries to strengthen their judiciaries and promote the rule of law. On good governance, we will continue to offer strategic level training assistance through our strategic institutions to African countries and other allies. This will foster collaboration and strengthen democracy in the region. We will also support countries conducting elections by deploying election monitors to observe and assess the conduct of the elections as part of democratic consolidation,” NSS said.
During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, Nigeria’s approach to containing the situation was a watershed and highly commended by WHO. The country was able to train and deploy 250 volunteer personnel to Liberia to help fight the diseases. Additionally, in January 2020, Nigeria had also handed over TAC medical practitioners to the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation to work in various health facilities across the country. Still, Nigeria is also gearing up toward sending about 74 medical doctors to Guinea Bissau to help the country’s health sector as well.
Therefore, Nigeria must continue deepening her relationship with regional and global partners, strengthen regional and global institutions, thereby achieving national interest, foreign policy objectives and maintaining regional influence.
Mukhtar wrote from Kano via firstname.lastname@example.org