Peacekeeping: June 19, 2005

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Although Nigeria has serious internal problems of its own, including religious and tribal conflicts, along with numerous well organized and heavily armed  criminal gangs, it is also a major player in peacekeeping operations. At present, Nigeria has a battalion in Sierra Leone, two in Liberia, and one in Sudan, with another two on the way. In addition, scores of Nigerian officers are serving on the staffs of the peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Western Sahara, and Sudan. 

As the largest (in population) African country, Nigeria sees itself as obliged to take the lead in solving regional problems. Back in the 1990s, Nigeria stepped up and dispatched peacekeepers to nasty situations in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Unfortunately, the troops sent were not prepared for peacekeeping, and soon became part of the problem. The corruption that is so endemic in Nigeria, was common in the army as well. Nigerian troops became just another gang of gunslingers out to make a buck. But Nigeria learned from those mistakes, and invited Western trainers to help get the troops in shape for future peacekeeping missions. The United States, and other nations responded, and Nigerian peacekeeping performance has been much better of late.

 


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