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Friday, February 20, 2009

Nigeria: Why Country Delays Sending Troops to Somalia - Defence Minister

Kingsley Omonobi | Vanguard-Lagos | February 20, 2009

Defence Minister, Dr. Shettima Mustapha disclosed yesterday that the Nigerian government would only send troops to help quell the crisis in Somalia when the time and situation on ground in the war-torn country allowed it, saying going there now will mean fighting to enforce peace.

The minister who paid a maiden visit to the Defence headquarters and the Services headquarters, made the disclosure just as the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike noted that a housing project to cater for 120 families of Non-Commissioned officers and another for 38 families of officers, is being undertaken through direct labour by defence headquarters as part of plans to improve the welfare of officers and men.

Speaking against the backdrop of the controversy over the deployment of Nigerian troops to Somalia, the minister said, "If you recall, when Nigeria committed herself to sending troops in 2006 or thereabout, it was for peacekeeping because the situation then could be handled.

"But over the years, the situation has changed. Today, what is needed in Somalia is the enforcement of peace because from our findings, there is no government on ground. What we have are various groups controlling several areas. It means you will fight to enforce peace there. So if you go there, you will be fighting several groups

"Our duty is to advise Mr. President appropriately. So all I will say is the Ministry of defence is assessing the situation on ground to be able to advise the President because the situation has changed".

On his expectation from the military, he said, "What the nation needs from its officers and men is dedication to duty, loyalty and discipline. There is never a 99. 9% loyalty. It is either there or it is never there. It has to be 100%.

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