The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor has said Nigeria has significantly contributed to 41 peacekeeping operations worldwide, adding that the Nigerian government spent $8bn to restore peace in Liberia during the country’s civil war.
He disclosed this while delivering his keynote remark at the United Nations House in Abuja on Wednesday at an event to mark the 75th-year celebration of the United Nations peacekeeping operations.
Irabor said: “Since the first engagement of troops of our Armed Forces in the Congo in 1960, Nigeria has been unequivocally committed to the principles and objectives of the United Nations. It has significantly contributed to 41 peacekeeping operations worldwide.
“Ever since, over 200,000 Nigerian troops have served in UN peacekeeping missions worldwide and Nigerian senior military officers have commanded some of these missions.”
The CDS added that: “Similarly, under regional and sub-regional cooperation, Nigeria has been involved in peacekeeping operations in field missions in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Darfur and Sierra Leone and has contributed a lot in terms of finance, logistics, troops and civilian experts, making her one of the most significant African troops and civilian police contributors to UN missions.”
He said: “It is noteworthy that in addition to the loss of lives and injuries to personnel, the ECOMOG, a regional interventionist mediation force advocated to end the protracted Liberian civil war, was operated at an estimated cost of USD 8 billion to the Nigerian government.”
Irabor boasted that Nigeria’s active participation in peacekeeping missions had helped save countless lives and restore peace and stability to many countries over the decades.
He however noted that despite the security challenges occasioned by the activities of non-state actors and other criminal elements that have besieged the country for some times now, the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the Police have continued to contribute troops to sustain the country’s commitment to the UN.
Also, speaking at the occasion, Gen Martin Luther Agwai, who was the special guest of honour, noted that the UN Peacekeeping had been a unique and dynamic instrument to help countries in conflict transition to lasting peace.
He disclosed that more than two million uniformed and civilian personnel have contributed to the global effort to secure peace and progress across the world since 1948.
Agwai said: “As we celebrate this milestone, let us reflect on the past and look to the future. We must work together to enhance our collective efforts towards global peace and security.”
On his part, the Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres, in his message on the day, paid tribute to those who lost their lives while securing peace across the globe.
He said: “In carrying out this essential work, many peacemakers have paid the ultimate price. More than 4,200 peacemakers have lost their lives serving under the UN flag.
“We stand in sympathy and solidarity with their families, friends and colleagues, and will forever be inspired by their selfless devotion to the cause of peace.”
Michael Olugbode in Abuja