The president says a stand-by force dedicated to conflicts resolution will assist the continent in nipping any crisis in the bud before escalation.
By Rotimi Ijikanmi/NAN
President Goodluck Jonathan in Paris on Saturday said the Federal Government would support the formation of Africa Stand-by Force to take charge of crises situation on the continent.
Mr. Jonathan said this in an interview with France 24 television shortly after the end of a two-day summit on peace and security in Africa hosted by President Francois Hollande of France.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that one of the main resolutions of the summit is the formation of the Africa Stand-by Force not later than 2015 to enable the continent take charge of its own security.
Mr. Jonathan said Nigeria as a committed nation to global peace keeping welcomed the formation of the specialised force to take control of the security challenges in Africa.
“We totally support it because we also believe that by having a robust stand-by force, it is much better than the ad hoc contributions by nations,” he said.
“They can mobilise very quickly whenever we have challenges, and there is the need to deploy them.
“So, we support it and we thank the president and people of France for supporting Africa in this regard.”
The president said a stand-by force dedicated to conflicts resolution would assist the continent in nipping any crisis in the bud before escalation.
He said there would be no need to wait for other developed nation to send troops to crisis zones in the continent or waiting for UN Resolutions before troop deployment.
“When you have this stand-by force, they now have an operational order covering the whole of Africa.
“Anywhere there is conflict, it will not require UN resolution, but a host country’s invitation and an endorsement by the AU,’’ he said.
Mr. Jonathan noted that the stand-by force should be elastic in its composition and contribution by member states of the African Union.
He said: “Contributions should depend on challenges and resources. As we build up the resources, we increase the strength of the force.
“You will not just have men and women wearing uniform, at least they must be equipped in term of arms, logistic and the force will be under the AU.’’
Mr. Jonathan said Africa as a major trading partner with France and Europe, the peace in the continent should be of paramount concern.
“You cannot have people to trade with if there are crisis. Though you can trade on weapon, but that is just a negative aspect of trade.
“To have balance of trade and robust economic development, nations must be at peace.
“Europe must be worried when there is always conflict in Africa because they will not want to invest in managing crisis but in development,’’ he said.
The president called on France and the European Union to assist in the formation of the stand-by force through capacity building, training and provision of sophisticated equipments.
Mr. Jonathan said that ECOWAS had a similar force which had assisted in responding to crises in some member states.
“At the beginning of ECOWAS, it was meant to concentrate on economic issues, but we have seen that you cannot achieve that without interfering in the internal affairs of member states.
“We realised that you cannot talk about the economy in a very unstable state. States must be stable before you can manage their economy.
“So, whenever we have situation that we need to intervene, we intervene and that has brought some reasonable stability.’’
Mr. Jonathan recalled that the ECOWAS Force had intervened in crises in Niger, Cote d’Ivoire and presently stabilising Guinea Bissau and Mali.
NAN reports that President Hollande, at the opening of the summit on Friday, had challenged the over 53 African leaders that attended the summit on the need for the continent to take control of its security.
Mr. Jonathan also said the Federal Government was not considering sending troop to the trouble region of the Central Africa Republic.
He said the Federal Government would consider other forms of assistance that could be rendered to the troubled nation.
The president said apart from the fact that Nigeria had troops in quite a number of West African countries, “it is facing its own security challenges of Boko Haram insurgence’’.
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