By Omar Bah
Members of the Nigeria National Defence College are in the country on a study tour on the theme “Post-Conflict Peace Building and National Security in The Gambia; Lessons for Nigeria”.
Addressing the group yesterday at the Officers Mess in Kotu, the Gambia’s deputy chief of defence staff, Major General Yankuba Drammeh told the visitors that the maturity and peacefulness of Gambians ‘saved’ the country from conflict during the political impasse.
“We were able to go through the process of the political impasse in a more peaceful ways because Gambians are very peaceful. In the Gambia you hardly distinguish between groups belonging to specific tribes or a specific indicator,” he said.
He continued: “Never in the history of The Gambia have we as a nation been gripped with anxiety and fear as was the case during the impasse that provoked mass exodus of Gambians and non-Gambians alike. Nevertheless our resolve and firm commitment as a nation couple with our deep rooted culture of tolerance and perseverance, prevailed and the impasse was resolved in a peaceful manner.”
“We always try to promote mutual co-existence amongst ourselves and that played a pivotal role in seeing us through the process. Today our shared commitment and determination was able to usher in a new dispensation,” he stated.
On the visit of Nigeria National Defence College, General Drammeh said: “From all indications I consider your visit very significant and timely. We have come up with programs that will help you achieve your targets. Feel free to seek for assistance whenever it is needed.”
Meanwhile, the National Defence College team leader, Cdre Emmanuel Olatunji Beckley, said the College is the apex military training institution for the Nigerian Armed Forces, and a centre of excellence for peace support operations training at the strategic level in West Africa.
“The institution is involved in training senior officers in the ranks of colonel, senior police officers, and senior civil servants from the ministries, departments and agencies. We are also involved in training senior military officers within six African countries, Asia and Europe,” he stated.
On the tour, he said: “It is part of the College curriculum to visit African countries on study tours. We decided to choose The Gambia this time because Nigeria and The Gambia have a lot in common and there is a lot Nigeria can learn from The Gambia.”
He said some Gambian military officers passed through the College, “But unfortunately there is no Gambian military officer undergoing training at the college as we speak, but I hope our visit will avail that opportunity to our Gambian counterparts.”
“We have 136 participants on the course; 26 that is on tour presently, out of which 54 are from the Nigerian army, 26 Nigerian Navy, 26 Nigerian air force, 10 from the ministries, departments and agency, 4 police officers and the align participants are sixteen in number. We have three with us from Bangladesh, Congo Brazzaville and Germany,” he concluded.
The 28 participants during their four days visit will meet President Adama Barrow, CDS Kinteh, Interior Minister, members of the Human Rights Commission, Justice Minister, Ecomig forces and Hon Halifa Sallah.