Nigeria has just been rewarded for an excellent peacekeeping performance around the globe with a fifth consecutive re-election to the Chair of the United Nations Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. Representing this country on the 148-member committee is Nigeria’s sitting Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Joy Ogwu – a former Director General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA).
In the vote held during the 234th session of the committee, Japan, Canada, Argentina and Poland were elected co-vice chairs and Egypt the rapporteur. According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Nigeria’s repeated election “signaled recognition of Nigeria’s peacekeeping efforts” globally, dating back to the civil strife in the old Congo and Lebanon’s civil war in the 1960s. This role has expanded ever since. In Africa, we recall the pivotal role of Nigeria in stabilizing war torn Liberia and helping to return it to constitutionalism. Ditto Sierra Leone. At present, we are deeply involved in pacification work in crisis-striven Mali and Guinea Bissau.
NAN describes the Special Committee as the “UN flagship with the mandate to review all aspects of UN peacekeeping operations”. Speaking after her re-election, Ambassador Ogwu said the committee was “strategic in assisting the UN peacekeeping stakeholders in the efficient and effective delivery of peacekeeping mandates”. According to her, it will also serve as “a hub to facilitate the triangular relationship between the UN Security Council, General Assembly and the Secretariat”. This latest honour done to Nigeria is coming only three months after it became a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in October 2013. It will take over its Presidency this March.
Ordinarily, this high visibility our country is getting in the UN system because of the beautiful work our troops and police officers are doing should gladden our hearts. Instead, our people are asking why they are not doing a similar job in the country, a substantial part of which is being ravaged by sectarian insurgency that has lasted over four years now. Only last week, Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno state, one of the three states caught in the Boko Haram madness, expressed the increasing frustration of Nigerians over the failure of our security forces to rout this killer sect.
The governor literally ran to Abuja to tell President Goodluck Jonathan that, as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, he was not doing enough to bring peace to the North-east, the epicenter of the insurgency. Indeed, he said that the troops sent to confront the insurgents were outmuscled by Boko Haram and “less motivated” than them. As is usual with our leaders, our President and his military chiefs weren’t happy to be told that their strategy against Boko Haram wasn’t working and would not work.
Responding to the governor’s doubts during a Presidential Media Chat on NTA Monday night, President Jonathan said, “the security agencies are working out a modality that would finally put an end to the daily killings of Nigerians”. However, he issued a veiled threat to withdraw the troops if the governor believed they were not helpful. “If I remove the military from Borno state for just one month, the governor will not be able to stay in the Government House”, he said. Certainly, such a remark is disappointing, coming as it did from a president. He should be talking about increasing the number of troops deployed on the ground, not a withdrawal.