President Goodluck Jonathan has disclosed that Nigeria has spent $34million (about N7billion) on the immediate deployment of troops and logistics support to stop the activities of Islamic terrorists in Mali. He also made an additional $5million pledge to further help that country.
Jonathan stated this yesterday at the donors' conference held at the end of the 20th Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Nigeria had already deployed 900 combat soldiers and 300 Air Force personnel to Mali as part of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).
The sum of $5.5 million out of the N7 billion, according to him, had been used for the re-construction and refurbishment of a number of medical clinics in the military barracks of some of the Malian Defence and Security Forces as part of the Security Sector Reform (SSR) intervention.
Jonathan explained that about $2million of the said amount had been spent on humanitarian relief and supplies, while the additional $5million pledge, which was in response to the call for more donations, was a further expression of Nigeria's commitment to the international effort to restore peace in Mali.
The AU had set a target of $50 million, but the total pledges announced at the end of the conference was $455.53 million, apart from other commitments made by the donors to contribute to the training of the Malian Defence Forces and other forms of assistance.
He noted that Nigeria was part of the joint initiative being undertaken by the African Union (AU), Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) aimed at mobilizing adequate financial resources in support of the Malian Defense and Security Forces (MDSF) as well as African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).
The president added that though this initiative would be considered as rather belated, given the rapidly unfolding events in Mali, it was better to start now than to wait even a day longer.
"The collaboration between these four organizations on this initiative is a clear demonstration of international solidarity, sympathy and cooperation required for a definitive resolution of the Malian crisis which has serious international consequences", he noted.
He recalled that, at the political level, he had visited Mali in his capacity as co-mediator, on October 19, 2012, to urge national consultations and dialogue in Bamako, the Malian capital, with a view to promoting a united political front on the basis of the ECOWAS roadmap for the resolution of the crisis in Mali.
He gave the assurance that Nigeria's support for Mali for the long haul, saying, "For this reason, the pledge I make today (of $5million) is a further expression of our commitment to a worthy international effort."
He advised that the funds generated in the Donors' Conference should be used not only for defence and security purposes, but also for the provision of necessary humanitarian support, adding that the ultimate resolution of the Malian crisis rested with the implementation of the ECOWAS peace plan, which provides for the restoration of constitutional order and promotion of democracy in the country.
On his part, chairman of the AU and Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Haile Mariam Desalegn, said the donors' conference would assist to mobilise the necessary resources to maintain the gains and re-energize the political process.
Boko Haram ceasefire: CDS cautions FG
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Admiral Ola Sa'ad Ibrahim yesterday cautioned the federal government and the populace against celebrating the ceasefire announced by the Boko Haram sect which is waging insurgency war against some states in the north.
The country had heaved a sigh of relief when a faction of the sect reportedly promised to halt its insurgent attacks in favour of peace for the country to move forward.
This is even as some northern elders have advocated offering amnesty to the sect members.
But speaking with journalists during the third seminar on national security at the National Defence College entitled "Contemporary National Security Challenges: Policy Option", the CDS, whose office is prosecuting the war against the sect, said it was too early to rejoice over the sect's peace signal.
He said: "You see, we must treat the ceasefire option with a lot of caution. There are certain objective tests that will make sense. If we can have a long period of about one month where no bomb explodes, where nobody is shot, where nobody is beheaded, where no church is bombed, where no mosque is threatened, then we can begin to talk.
"You see must take this offer with a lot of caution. We hope whatever that must have brought this about will further enhance our security. And it is like a recognition of the very futile approach to solving whatever they consider to be their problems. So, we are a bit excited by it but we are taking everything with a lot of caution."
Commenting on the intervention force in Mali, the CDS expressed satisfaction at the success recorded so far, and expressed optimism that, very soon, the second phase of the intervention, which is to restore peace in the strife-torn nation, would kick in.
"On the situation in Mali, things are moving so fast. We are very proud of our troops. Their performance is absolutely brilliant. We must congratulate the efforts of those who see this worthy cause to support Africa especially the sub-region - France, the US, the UK, Germany, Belgium, the African Union. It is an essentially African problem, but then we have placed it on the international domain and we are all very excited, especially the committee of CDS about the pace at which things have moved so far. Though we keep our fingers crossed, very soon, we begin to roll over to the second stage of the mandate for the ECOWAs forces."
The event is being attended by top officers in the military, police and para-military organizations. Those who were in attendance yesterday at the opening ceremony included, but not limited to, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Johnson Ezeoba; Major General Bolaji Koleosho, the Chief of Civil-Military Affairs who represented the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen OA Ihejirika; representative of the Chief of Air Force; the Minister of Police Affairs, Captain Caleb Olubolade and some retired military and police officers.