President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday implored West African Defence Chiefs to ensure that peace and security are sustained in the sub-region, especially troubled countries like Mali and Guinea Bissau.
Jonathan who made this appeal at the presidential villa when he received Chiefs of Defence Staff in West Africa who were in Abuja for their 30th Ordinary Meeting, noted that the strength of any nation depended on the might of its military, adding that “security is very vital to the integrity of nations.”
Commending the defence chiefs for their role in ensuring the current relative stability in the sub-region, the president said, “Though there are challenges in some areas, the stability of countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region is commendable. We have progressed significantly compared with what we had 20 years ago”.
While adding that the whole sub-region had embraced democratic governance, President Jonathan enjoined the military chiefs to join hands with civilian authorities to address the challenges in a few countries in West Africa such as Mali and Guinea Bissau.
He implored the defence chiefs to talk to their colleagues in these countries “to embrace democratic governance.”
The president who further expressed optimism that with the support and cooperation of the defence chiefs, “we would collectively resolve the issues in Guinea Bissau and Mali,” pledged the continued support of the Nigerian government to enable the military leaders succeed.
He opined that at the end of the meeting, they would have come up with resolutions that would further guarantee peace and stability in the West African sub-region.
Minister of Defence, Bello Haliru Mohammed who led the delegation of the defence chiefs on the courtesy visit to President Jonathan alongside Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin said ECOWAS had resolved to send troops to Guinea Bissau on a peace keeping mission.
Speaking to State House Correspondents after the meeting with the president, he said, “We await the decision of ECOWAS on Mali but on Guinea Bissau, a decision is already made that a military contingent from the ECOWAS will be sent to assist the government in maintaining the law and order. And Nigeria as a leading ECOWAS country will participate when invited”.