Abuja (WorldStage Newsonline)-- Barring any last minute change of heart, Nigeria is sets to join other Economic Commission of West Africa States (ECOWAS) countries in deploying troops to Guinea Bissua.
As military juntas recently sacked the constitutional government and also set aside the country's constitution, the sub-regional body has agreed to send a battalion to after the military refuse to step down.
However, ECOWAS is yet to take decision on whether it would send troop or not to Mali.
ECOWAS defence chiefs are currently in Abuja for their 30th Ordinary Meeting.
Nigeria's Defence Minister, Haliru Mohammed and the country Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin confirmed the country's readiness to send troops to Guinea-Bissau during an interview with State House correspondents, shortly after a meeting of the ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff (CDS) with President Jonathan.
“You know our sub-region is plaque with challenges of insecurity and also instability in some of the countries. The CDS are here to discuss how the intervention of ECOWAS will help to bring security and to stabilise the country where instability is rearing its heads, this is on the instruction of the Head of States of the ECOWAS,” he said.
“On Guinea Bissau, a decision is already made that a military contingent from the ECOWAS will be sent to assist the government in maintaining law and order, Nigeria as a leading member of ECOWAS will participate when invited.
“The ECOWAS is sending one battalion, but the contribution of Nigeria will depend on when we are invited."
He also said that the meeting with the President was primarily on the security challenges and instability in the two ECOWAS member states.
Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Oluseyi Petinrrin who was part of the delegation said they were prepared for the assignment any time they were called upon to deploy troop.
"The decision to send troop will be decided by government. Our job is to be prepared so that when they decide to deploy we will be ready.
“And, it is possible they have decided, may be they have not yet announced it,” he said.
Petinrin also said that with the intervention of ECOWAS, a lot of progress had been made in resolving the political crises in the two countries.
“Right now, we have constitutional order, 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,’’ he said.
The regional bloc had earlier imposed sanctions on the respective junta to ensure compliance to ECOWAS protocols on zero tolerance for military rule. At the extra-ordinary meeting of ECOWAS in Dakar Senegal on May 3, Jonathan had recommended stiffer sanction for the military junta for their failure to accede to the demands of the regional bloc.
Re-echoing this stand on Monday during his meeting with the defence chiefs, Jonathan urged them to ensure that peace and security are sustained in the sub-region.
He stressed that the strength of any nation depends on the might of its military and “security is very vital to the integrity of nations.”
President Jonathan while commending the defence chiefs for their role in ensuring the current relative stability in the sub-region enjoined them not to relent.
“Though there are challenges in some areas, the stability of countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region is commendable. We have progressed significantly compared with what we had 20 years ago,” the President said, adding that “we have to continue to ensure peace, security and stability.”
President Jonathan who noted that the whole sub-region had embraced democratic governance, expressed appreciation to the military chiefs for joining hands with civilian authorities to address the challenges in a few countries in West Africa such as Mali and Guinea Bissau.
He implored the defence chiefs to talk to their colleagues in these countries “to embrace democratic governance.”
The President expressed optimism that with the support and cooperation of the defence chiefs, “we would collectively resolve the issues in Guinea Bissau and Mali.”
He pledged the continued support of the Nigerian Government to enable the military leaders to succeed, hoping that at the end of their meeting, they would have come up with resolutions that would further guarantee peace and stability in the West African sub-region.