The Nigerian Navy shipped military hardware and contingent to Guinea Bissau on Saturday on peace keeping mission on the auspices of ECOWAS.
Guinea Bissau has experienced four coups since independence from Portugal in 1974 and is currently in turmoil.
“Nigeria’s effort towards peace-keeping and peace enforcement in Guinea Bissau becomes germane while the Armed Forces of Nigeria’s synergy will become a hallmark as it continues to operate.
“The role the Nigerian Navy is playing today by NNS KADA conveying military hardware is one of the roles assigned to the Nigerian Navy Constitutionally.
“By moving this equipment, we are supporting ECOWAS with the stabilisation support force that is established in Guinea Bissau,’’ he said.
The FOC also said that the movement of the equipment through NNS KADA showed that the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Armed Forces had come of age to conduct such operations successfully.
“The Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Air Staff brought it together to show the manifestation under the leadership of the Minister of Defence.
“At the end, we will continue to showcase the capability, capacity and competence of the Armed Forces of Nigeria to the whole world while keeping peace within our sub-region.
“This positions Nigeria as a regional power and continues to show that we are in the lead,’’ he stressed.
Wambai recalled that in 1990, the Nigerian Navy conducted a similar exercise using NNS AMBE and NNS DAMISA to convey equipment and personnel to help to stabilise Liberia.
The exercise was conducted on the platform of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG).
ECOMOG is a West African peacekeeping force that began with approximately 3,000 troops and has grown to between 10,000 and 12,000 troops, the vast majority being Nigerians.
ECOMOG included forces from five countries of ECOWAS: Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, later joined by Mali. According to Wambai, “we did the same thing in Sierra Leone; three years ago in Gambia and now we are doing it in Guinea Bissau.
“We will continue to showcase our role and big brotherliness by assisting and coming to the aid of these West African countries whenever there is the need,’’ the FOC declared.
He said that the ECOWAS standby force was still in existence and that the Nigerian Navy would use that umbrella to continue to work and function to support peace and stability within the West African sub-region.
Wambai advised the contingent en route Guinea Bissau to adhere to integrity, professionalism and team work in all their operations.
“I must remind you that the rules of engagement in the mission area demands that you exhibit utmost professionalism in the discharge of your responsibilities.
“Also, I must urge you to respect religious and cultural sensitivity of the host nation in the course of discharging your duties,’’ the FOC told the departing contingent.