This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Army - Nigeria, Fourth Best in Global Peacekeeping

The Nigerian Army last night said as the fourth-best military in global peacekeeping operation, it has no difficulties moving to Mali to restore peace there.

In a reaction to a news story by The Guardian of London newspaper, Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Army, Col. Mohammed Yerima, told THISDAY that the story was intended by the newspaper to diminish "the successes recorded by Nigeria in peacekeeping operations."

The Guardian had alleged that the state of the Nigerian Army has delayed plans for a military intervention in Mali.

It also claimed that the country's army lacks the capability to fight on the frontline.

But Yerima said the story was a complete underestimation of the strength of the Nigerian Armed Forces and what the service could do.

He said: "I read the story. At first, I was to issue an official reaction. But I dropped the idea, because the news story was foolish. The newspaper deliberately turned truth on its head."

He further said: "There is no force on the West African sub-region that can match Nigeria's capability. We restored peace in both Liberia and Sierra-Leone. We are at the moment maintaining peace in parts of the country.

"Our training programmes are going on as scheduled and we also have modern equipment, as an army," Yerima added.

He advised foreign media organisations to seek clarification about Nigeria's military capability to avoid misleading the world.

He also reiterated Nigeria's standpoint on global peace and added that the country's armed forces are ready and capable of effective peace operations in any part of the sub-region.

The newspaper had reported that Nigerian army's Mali mission had been stalled following doubts of its operational capability.

According to the story, "A senior source in Mali told The Guardian that a lack of training and discipline among Nigerian troops - who are being heavily relied on by regional bloc Ecowas to oust Islamists in control of northern Mali - is becoming increasingly apparent.

"The Nigerian army is in a shocking state. In reality there is no way they are capable of forward operations in Mali - their role is more likely to be limited to manning checkpoints and loading trucks.

"The Nigerian forces lack training and kit, so they simply don't have the capability to carry out even basic military manoeuvres. They have poor discipline and support. They are more likely to play a behind-the-scenes role in logistics and providing security."

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