Abuja — Following the one-week visit by a team of military officers from the Integrated Training Service of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operation (DPKO) to the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre (NAPKC) Jaji, Kaduna State to observe the Pre-Deployment Training (PDT) offered at the Centre, the centre is soon to be accredited.
With the anticipated accreditation, NAPKC will be the first training centre accredited for Pre-Deployment Training on the African continent.
Commandant of the Centre, Brig. Gen. Emeka Onwuamaegbu said the visit was a follow-up to an initial visit by a team last June. "These are the usual procedures by the UN before a Peacekeeping Training Centre is accredited", he said.
The Team was led by the Chief of Integrated Training Service, UN DPKO, Col. Farooque Choudhury and two other officers from the Department. He commended the Nigerian Army for establishing such a centre of excellence and expressed the hope that other troop contributing countries would emulate the country.
Onwuamaegbu said, the UN Team "so far has been highly impressed by the level professionalism displayed and the training offered at NAPKC. The team also observed the graduation ceremony of 73 Battalion on October 9, which will be deployed into the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) before the end of October 2009."
At the graduation ceremony, Chief of Policy and Plans Army Headquarters, Major General AA Atofarati enjoined the troops to be professional in order to justify the huge resources committed to their training by the Country and its partners. He emphasized on the need to bring all they learnt during their training to bear in the mission area.
In his farewell address, the General Officer Commanding, 1 Division, Major General KA Role whose battalion graduated, advised the troops to be good ambassadors of the Division, the Nigerian Army and the country as a whole. He commended them for their good conduct during the period of their training and urged them to extend the same to their missions. A total of 44 officers and 756 soldiers participated in the four-week pre-deployment training of the 73 Battalion at the Centre.
The UN accreditation is expected to further boost Nigeria's acclaimed record in Peace Support Operations (PSOs). The Country has participated actively in PSOs from pre-independence period with the mission in Congo till date. The country is today the fourth largest troops contributing country in the world, with enviable records.
The Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre was upgraded from a wing of the Nigerian Army School of Infantry January this year to an autonomous institution. It has the capacity to train two battalions simultaneously. Since the upgrade, the Centre has trained nine battalions, consisting of 800 personnel each, two Signal Squadrons, two Medical outfits and an Infantry Reserve Company. As part of its capacity building and reach out, the Centre is in the process of partnering with other stakeholders in peacekeeping for the possible training of personnel at NAPKC, while also improving its own capacity.