Unity is Strength

Unity is Strength

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Gen. Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, Nigerian chief of defense staff, gave the keynote speech at the African Land Forces Summit on April 19, 2018, in Abuja, Nigeria. His remarks have been edited to fit this format.

We are aware of the various collaborative initiatives and concerted efforts that have been put in place, not only to ensure a secure Africa, but to attain global security. These collaborative efforts justify the theme of the summit: Unity is Strength. 

Drawing from the theme, I am aware that countries in Africa have independently, or in collaboration, made efforts to eliminate threats such as terrorism, insurgency, piracy, proliferation of small arms and economic crises.

I hope that the deliberation during the summit has offered opportunities to learn from the shortcomings, successes and strategies employed to neutralize or defeat threats of terrorism and violent extremist organizations.

The Armed Forces of Nigeria have been at the forefront of combating insurgency, terrorism, violent extremism and arms proliferation, as well as piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. The Nigerian Army-led counterinsurgency operation against Boko Haram has recorded tremendous success. Boko Haram insurgents are no longer holding territory in Nigeria. The group has been rendered incapable of launching organized attacks. It is my humble view that there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the Nigerian experience.

I, therefore, implore all stakeholders at this summit to learn from the strategies the Nigerian Army has adopted to combat terrorism. The success in the fight against Boko Haram could not have been achieved without effective collaboration between the Lake Chad Basin countries. Collaboration in the areas of training, exercises, operations and intelligence sharing are imperative for us to achieve results in safeguarding the entire continent.

I am of the belief that the meaningful and effective collaboration within the subregion, the region and the continent will be the catalyst required to galvanize our partners to provide us with the support needed to secure Africa.

Summits like this ensure that as individual and collective countries we come together to analyze our security mechanisms, make projections and set objectives with a view to seeking measures to address lapses and attain goals.

I believe that the African Land Forces Summit 2018 was able to achieve that. It is my view that the alliances formed, the knowledge gained and the experiences shared at this summit will better position us to tackle violent extremist organizations and other threats. I have no doubt that this summit has forged new bonds and consolidated existing relationships. These, I believe, have put us in a better position to appreciate our differences and find meeting points on different issues.

Nigeria will continue to support Africa and global peace whenever it is called upon. We will also ensure that all our actions are guided by best practices, international law and the laws of our operating environment. We also call on the United States, U.S. Army Africa and other partners to always consider Nigeria as a dependable ally when the need arises. I call on the leadership of African land forces to continuously interface and collaborate with each other to address the security challenges confronting Africa.