China on Thursday donated $5 million worth of non-lethal military equipment to the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) to ease its operations.
Speaking in Abuja at a ceremony organised to handover the equipment, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Amb. Kadre Ouedraogo, said the donation by the Chinese Government would boost the operational capacity of the standby force.
``Today, we are all gathered here to officially receive the non-lethal military equipment magnanimously donated by the Government of the Peoples’ Republic of China to the ECOWAS Standby Force.
``The donation is worth about five million U.S. dollars and comprises among others, personnel protective equipment, a high capacity generator, tents, IT and communications equipment as well as eight motor transport vehicles including three command vehicles, two buses, one ambulance, one fuel tanker and one water tanker.
``Currently, our region is faced with new realities and emerging threats to peace and security.
``The donation of today will reduce ECOWAS Standby Force deficiencies in areas of effective rapid deployable equipment; it will also greatly enhance its abilities to rapidly deploy to meet its mandate whenever required.”
Ouedraogo assured that the force would be ``more professionally efficient to plan and organise various training activities across the sub-region and put to judicious use the equipment”.
He expressed gratitude to the Chinese Government for the donation and also to the Nigerian Government for the efforts it made to facilitate the clearing, transportation, and temporary storage of the equipment.
In his remarks, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Amb. Gu Xiaojie, said the donation of the military equipment to the standby force would promote relations between China and ECOWAS.
Xiaojie also said the Chinese Government’s donation was in line with the commitment it made at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Johannesburg in Dec. 2015.
The envoy also reassured of his government’s resolve to sustain relations with West African countries and the various regional economic communities in the interest of peace and security in the continent.
``This donation by the Chinese Ministry of Defence is a symbol of the close cooperation between China and ECOWAS and also this is symbolic of China’s commitment towards cooperating with ECOWAS states to maintain peace and stability.
``China is going to have closer consultation with African countries and sub-regional organisations and other institutions to beef up Africa’s capability to maintain peace and stability and the Chinese Government would continue providing within its capability and in various forms, assistance and support to African countries.
``This donation is just a part of our effort towards that direction.”
Earlier in his remarks, the Minister of Defence, Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (Rtd) expressed gratitude to the Chinese Government for its contribution to the ESF.
Dan-Ali was represented by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin.
The minister also expressed gratitude to ECOWAS and the Federal Government for facilitating the mobilisation of the equipment.
He reiterated that he provision would meet some of the security needs of the standby force and foster bilateral, security and economic relations between both parties.
``I wish to express our gratitude to the Government of the Peoples’ Republic of China for their benevolence in providing 60 containers and 80 trucks which include vehicles, trucks, fragmentation as well as information communication technology kits to the ESF.
``Let me assure that the equipment will go a long way in enhancing the performance of our men on mission; let me further assure you that the ESF will utilise them within the ambit of the agreed protocol.”
He also commended the efforts of member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin Republic in fight against insurgency in the sub-region through their contribution to the Multinational Joint Task Force.
Highlights of the ceremony included the signing of the handover certificates by the ECOWAS Commission President and the Chinese Ambassador. (NAN)