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Showcasing Africa’s Best in Security 

Showcasing Africa’s Best in Security 

The hall of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre, Banjul, The Gambia, was recently thrown open to showcase Africa’s best in security. Organised by Africa Security Watch Awards and Conference, Chiemelie Ezeobi reports that this 17th edition offered an opportunity to honour deserving persons drawn from the military, the police and even immigration, who distinguished themselves in service to their respective nations. Also recognised were individuals, as well as governments who champion security of member states and the continent at large

To showcase the best in security in Africa, The Gambia recently hosted the  17th Africa Security Watch Awards Initiative and Conference (SWAI). Known fondly as the Smiling Coast of Africa, the nation hosted the best of Africa from November 9 to 11, 2022. 

Although the earlier plan to host the event in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai, was thwarted by the recent visa ban on Nigerians by the UAE authorities, it did not in anyway take the shine off the essence of the award, a fact that those who did not make it to The Gambia, were oblivious to.

Keeping Faith

Despite the odds, President / Chief Executive Officer of Security Watch Africa (SWA), Mr. Patrick Agbambu, kept the faith to host the ’17th Africa Security Watch Awards and Conferenc at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre, Banjul, The Gambia.

On the choice of awardees, he said persons, governments and organisations that performed well in the security sector were rightfully chosen to be honoured. 

Rewarding Diligence

For SWAI, the award constantly reinforces the opportunity to reward diligence in service, and rightfully so. To the awardees, it was an honour well deserved as their excellence and hardwork finally paid off.

A total of 68 persons, including individuals, organisations, academia, clergy, media, and security agencies from across the African continent, were honoured for their exemplary performances in their various fields of endeavour, especially in the security sector.

Although the Chairman, Board of Trustees, General Jospeh Nunoo-Mensah (Rtd), the former chief of defence staff, Ghana, was unavoidably absent, he had earlier expressed his congratulations to the deserving ones.

Award Ceremony 

The grand event started with a red carpet reception and cocktail but the occasion kicked off properly with the melodious national anthem of The Gambia.

This was followed by the opening virtual remarks by the chairman board of trustees, former Chief of Defence Staff, Ghana and Chairman Board of Trustees of SWAI, Gen. Joseph Nunoo-Mensah (Rtd.). In between light jokes by Eric and his co-compere, the evening witnessed the rich exhibition of The Gambian culture, especially with the talking drums by a retired Gambian soldier. To encapsulate the entire two-day conference, member SWAI board of jury and a rapporteur, Brigadier General SK Usman read the communique.

The Deserving 

Among the honourees were the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Nigerian Navy, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo Zubairu CFR, who was awarded Africa’s Most Outstanding Chief of Naval Staff; Chief of Army Staff, Nigerian Army, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya CFR, who got Africa’s Most Outstanding Army Chief; and the Chief of Air Staff, Nigerian Air Force, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, CFR, who was honoured with the Most Outstanding Chief of the Air Staff in Africa, as well as Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba CFR, who bagged the Golden Star Award for Exemplary National Police Service in Africa. 

Also awarded was former Chief of Army Staff and Ambassador to Benin Republic, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai (retired), who got the African Security and Leadership Award; Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, Udom Emmanuel and his state, which got Nigeria’s Best Security and Safest State Award and Best Governor of West Africa, respectively.

For The Gambia, its Director General of Department of Immigration, Mr. Seedy Touré, was awarded Africa’s Golden Star Award for Exemplary Service in West Africa; Ghana’s Inspector General of Police, Dr. George Akuffo Dampare, was given the Most Innovative Police Chief in West and Central Africa Award; and Gambia’s Inspector General of Police, Abdoulie Sanyang, got the Golden Star Award for Outstanding Police Service in West Africa. 

Also awarded was Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi; Major General Victor Okwudili Ezegwu, Commander of the Infantry Corps of the Nigerian Army, who received an award for courage, commitment, and patriotism. 

Other awardees include the Force Commander of the MNJTF, Major General Abdul Khalifa Ibrahim; Theatre Commander of Operation Hadin Kai, Major General Christopher Gwabin Musa; Major General Taoreed Abiodun Lagbaja, General Officer Commanding 1 Division Nigerian Army; and Major General Waidi Shaibu, General Officer Commanding 7 Division Nigerian Army. 

Similarly, the Directorate of Public Relations and Information of the Nigerian Air Force, was presented with the SWAI Golden Award for Security Information Management in West and Central Africa; while Assistant Inspector General of Police, Eboka Friday, Brigadier General Lar, and Commissioners of Police Abiodun Sylvester Alabi and Kolo Yusuf were honoured for their outstanding achievements and contributions to peace and security. 

The Commissioners of Police, Idowu Owohunwa and Ari Mohammed Ali of the Nigeria Police Force, were equally honoured. 

Other recipients of awards include Chief Superintendent of Police Elizabeth Oluwatoyin Opadola, who was given the “Best Divisional Police Officer in West and Central Africa Award,” and CSP Julian Wealth Igbudu, who won an award for Best Use of Technology.

In addition, a former Minister of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the late Engineer Bunu Sheriff, was posthumously honoured with an award.

When the curtains drew close on the award ceremony, thus signifying the end of the three-day epoch making event that shaped discuss in and of Africa, it was glaring that truly there is continuous need to honour those whose numerous sacrifices have kept, as well as, keep us safe. 

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