The Minister of Defence, Bello Mohammed, has said that Nigeria will deploy troops to Guinea Bissau on or before May 18, as part of its commitment to restoring constitutional order in that country.
Mr. Mohammed announced this at the 30th Ordinary Meeting of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff in Abuja on Monday.
He said that the troops for Mali are also ready, but that the country is awaiting signals from the ECOWAS for its deployment.
The minister restated Nigeria’s commitment to the restoration of peace and order in those countries, as well as the promotion of socio-economic and political development of the region.
He said that internal conflicts in some member states within the region are affecting its desire to achieve political and economic development.
“The situation in Mali and Guinea Bissau is giving the region cause for concern in its quest for long-term survival of democracy.”
“Apart from this, the situation in Mali, especially the rebellion in the Northern part of the country, portends grave danger to our sub-region due to the assemblage of desperate armed groups.”
He said that the group’s outreach extends far beyond the sub-region, adding that “if not decisively tackled, the development could destabilise the entire region”.
Mr. Mohammed also urged the chiefs of defence staff to address threats in the Sahel region and the Gulf of Guinea, which he described as the gateways to the socio-economic development of the region.
“You must not relent in your efforts to ensure that the threats in these areas are decisively dealt with in order to provide a secured environment for our collective development,” he said.
The Chief of Defence, Oluseyi Petinrin, in a welcome address, described the development in Mali and Guinea Bissau in the last two months as hectic.
He pledged the military’s zero-tolerance to the forceful takeover of government in any part of the region.
“The challenges that fate has entrusted on the sub-region are enormous but not insurmountable, and we cannot afford to fail.
“I believe that we, as a body, are in a good position to assist our governments to proffer workable solutions to our common problems so that they can provide for our people an environment that is conducive.”
Mr. Petinrin urged the member states to fulfill their pledges of personnel and equipment deployment to Mali and Guinea Bissau, to restore peace and order in those countries.
The Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of ECOWAS, Salamat Suleiman, said there is urgent need for member countries to deploy troops to Guinea Bissau.
She said that deploying troops to the country would facilitate the withdrawal of Angolan troops from that country.
According to Ms. Suleiman, the Angolan troops are scheduled to leave Guinea Bissau on May 20.