Jaiyeola Andrews in Abuja
Chinese government on Thursday said it has supported the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) with military equipment to assist in its peace keeping operations.
The donated equipment was formally handed over to the ECOWAS Commission on Thursday, at the Mogadishu Cantonment in Abuja.
The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Gu Xiaojie said the donation of the non-lethal military equipment was in recognition of the tremendous efforts of ECOWAS towards maintaining peace and stability in the region.
“The government of China recognized the importance of peaceful coexistence as a prerequisite for economic development and social cohesion, which is the reason China as a member of the United Nations Security Council is playing active role in maintaining peace and stability around the world” he said.
The envoy noted that the donation of these equipment valued at around $5m, which according to him, was in line with the 5 point agenda of China in its relationship with Africa.
He stressed that the Chinese people would continue to provide assistance to the region within its capacity and capability.
The envoy reiterated that for more than 40 years, China had enjoyed excellent relationship with ECOWAS and its member states.
He added that the donation made to ESF, was a symbol of China’s recognition of the integrating role of ECOWAS in bringing the region together for peace and development.
Xiaojie thanked the government and people of Nigeria for facilitating the transfer and clearance of the equipment, which was made possible through Nigeria’s ministries of Defense and that of Foreign Affairs.
He also urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the equipment.
Speaking at the event, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, acknowledged the important role China had been playing in the development of West Africa and thanked the government and people of China for the donation of the military equipment to ESF.
He said with the equipment, ESF would be better positioned to serve the people of the region through rapid deployment in areas of conflicts.
The President added that the region is faced with new realities and emerging threats to peace and security, through upsurge in religious extremism, new waves of terrorism attacks and asymmetric warfare.
These, amongst others reasons he said, underscores the need to have the ESF Task Force Headquarters elements and the Pledged Units from Members States to be in a high state of operational readiness always.
“The ability of ESF to effectively deploy with essential logistics required for mission start up is very critical. Therefore, the donation by the Chinese government is a welcome development and a step in the right direction” the president said.
He listed some of the donated equipment as; Personnel Protective Equipment, high-capacity Generators, Tents and Tentages, Ablution Facilities, Portable Kitchens, Movable Cabins, IT and Communications Equipment as well as 8 motor transport vehicles including 3 Command Vehicles, 2 32-Seater Buses, one each of an Ambulance, 10,000 Litres capacity Fuel Tanker and 10,000 Litres capacity Water Tanker.
The ECOWAS President also paid tribute to the government and people of Nigeria for its leading role in ensuring peace and stability in the region.
He recalled the initial missions in Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as subsequent missions in other parts of West Africa, which he said Nigeria played a pivotal role and its troops sometimes pay the ultimate price alongside other nation’s contingents.
He also appreciated the selfless contributions and sacrifices of members states who have contributed personnel for the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau (ECOMIB) which would wind down in June.
“He also paid glowing tributes to Chiefs of Defense Staff and other representative from Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo, Nigeria as well as the Inspector General of Police of Nigeria.
Earlier while delivering the welcome address, the representative of Nigeria’s Minister of Defense, Mr. David Gende, who is the Director of Joint Service Department, expressed Nigeria’s gratitude to the Government of the People’s Republic of China for their benevolence in providing equipment to ECOWAS. He reiterates that the kind gesture would go a long way in meeting some of the security need of ECOWAS Counties and foster bilateral Economic and Security relationship between the Chinese Nation and ECOWAS sub- region.
Gende said that the equipment donated will go a long way in enhancing the performance of men on mission and further assured that the EGOWAS Standby Force will utilise them within the ambit of the agreed protocol.