IF the crisis in Mali is not quickly contained, it may spill over to Nigeria and other West African countries with great security and political consequences, President Goodluck Jonathan warned Thursday.
In a letter seeking the Senate’s consent to deploy the troops, the
president underscored Nigeria’s security challenges and highlighted the
dangers of the country’s proximity to the Sahel region.
“As a responsible member of the international community and given our
recent experiences with insurgency and terrorist activities, especially
in the northern parts of the country, I felt compelled to urgently
approve the deployment of Nigerian troops,” the president said.
He further referred the lawmakers to various resolutions of the
Security Council on the Mali crisis, especially that of 2071 (2012),
which declared its readiness to respond to Mali’s request for an
international military force, its request for the Economic Community of
West African States (ECOWAS) military assistance as well as ECOWAS
letter of September 2012 to the UN Secretary General requesting a
Security Council’s resolution authorising the deployment of
stabilisation force in Mali under Chapter VII mandate of the United
The President, therefore, urged the Senate to exercise its powers
under section 4(5) of the Constitution to approve the deployment of
1,200 members of the armed forces to serve in the African-led force
(AFISMA) in Mali.
Shortly after the letter was read on the floor, the Senate went into
an executive session to discuss the mode of debate on the matter.
During the debate after the executive session, senators unanimously
applauded President Jonathan for his action, stressing that it was in
accordance with Nigeria’s foreign policy.
One thread that ran through the contributions was that such assistance should be tied to economic benefits for Nigeria.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika and his Air
Force counterpart, Alex Sabundu Badeh have also said that Nigeria is
prepared to ensure that it promotes absolute return of peace to Mali, as
162 soldiers out of the 906 troops deployed on peace mission were moved
to the troubled country yesterday.
Ihejirika who addressed the contingents of soldiers at the Nigerian
Army Peacekeeping Center (NAPKC), Jaji before their departure to Mali,
said that “the Mali’s restive Tuaregs minority erupted into rebellion
and were holding several parts of Northern Mali since March, 2012,”
pointing out that this was a country “once an apparent pillar of
democracy in West Africa.”