Daily Trust (Abuja)

27 February 2013

Nigeria: Army Backtracks On Mali Foreign Support

Bamako — Nigeria is now in a fix over its apparent reluctance to seek logistics support from the international community for the troops deployment to Mali, sources told Daily Trust in the Malian capital Bamako.

A senior military source said Nigeria seems to have tactfully rejected offers, especially from the US, to assist in logistics, and "yet the country is still deploying its troops and other military equipment to Mali in great pain."

Nigeria is expected to send 1,200 troops for the military operation. The country is yet to begin deploying armoured vehicles for its troops which are also necessary in the hostile Mali environment.

In a military operation like Mali's, according to the source, it does not mean a country is weak if it accepts assistance, especially as regards movement of troops and other heavy duty military equipment.

Ghana and Chad, it was learnt, accepted the offer for logistics support by the international community. Ghana was said to have been assisted by Britain. Chad, which was said to have deployed 2500 troops, 52 armoured vehicles and over 100 war camels, was reportedly provided last week with a monetary assistance of more than $50 million by the US government.

The source, however, absolved Nigerian military authorities of blame, saying politicians should be held responsible for the slow pace of deployment of Nigerian troops.

"Nigeria should not hesitate to seek logistics support from the international community to reduce her logistics burden; it should not pretend to channel its request through the African Union (AU) because the burden is much on her given the way things are currently being done," he said.

Force Commander and Head of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali, Major General S. U. Abdulkadir, had earlier told Daily Trust in Bamako that Nigeria was doing its best and so her effort should be appreciated. Abdulkadir however described the process of deploying Nigerian troops as gradual.

Nigeria, according to him, is yet to ask the international community for logistics support in this regard as it is still doing its best, saying however that there is nothing wrong in seeking for international support in an operation like this.

"At least we have to do our best first before seeking for any logistics or other support. There is nothing wrong in seeking for assistance, anyway. You see, we are not doing badly in the first place; and our effort should be appreciated by all," he said.

But Daily Trust learnt that Nigeria may likely ask for logistics support at a scheduled extra-ordinary summit of heads of government of ECOWAS states in Abidjan tomorrow, which President Jonathan is expected to attend.

Jonathan is also expected to present Nigeria's $5 million donation for the Mali support mission at the summit.

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