Sunday, October 2, 2011

Twin celebrations for Nigerian Police in Somalia.

Mogadishu October 2 – As millions of Nigerians celebrated their 51st Independence Day anniversary, eight police officers from Nigeria serving in Somalia enjoyed a twin celebration thousands of miles away in Mogadishu after being decorated for serving in the Africa Union peacekeeping mission, AMISOM.

The eight police officers, Assistant Commissioner Isaac Sunday Obafaye, Chief Superintendent Nasiru Mohammed, Superintendent Saluna Muntua Saleh, Superintendent Nana Garba Bature, Deputy Superintendent Augustine Egim, Assistant Superintendent Marcus Nyams Bako, Assistant Superintendent Maryam Hamman and Inspector Ruth Ade Makinwa received gold plated medals courtesy of AMISOM for their dedication and service to the Somali police force.

The Somali Police Force like many other institutions in Somalia did not survive the bloody civil war in the Horn of African country after the ouster of former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, who incidentally died in Lagos, Nigeria while in exile there on January 2, 1995.

The medals ceremony coincided with Nigeria’s 51st Independence Day celebrations, which the officers from Nigeria, celebrated in style in the still silence of Mogadishu, a city ravaged by clan and ideological wars in the past two decades. In the recent past months though, the city has enjoyed a relative peace following the defeat of Al-Shabab militants by AMISOM peacekeepers and Somali forces.

The twin party in Mogadishu started with a parade mounted by the smartly dressed Nigerian police officers consisting of four women officers and four male officers who patriotically sang and saluted as their national anthem reverberated in the background with the green, white and green national flag of Nigeria flying high next to Somalia’s Sky Blue flag and the green flag of the African Union.

Each of the officers was then decorated with a gold plated medal by Mr. Wafula Wamunyinyi, the Deputy African Union Special Representative in Somalia at the AMISOM Force headquarters in camp Halane, next to the sea side Aden Ade International airport in Mogadishu.

The Nigerian police contingent later hosted Mr. Wamunyinyi, the AMISOM Force Commander Major General Fred Mugisha and other senior AMISOM military and police officers from across Africa at a well decorated mess where guests broke the kola nut in accordance with Nigerian traditions amid drinks and chocolates with the history of Africa’s most populous nation beaming from a computer aided screen.

“The kola nut is grown in the west, adored in the east and eaten in the north of Nigeria. In our culture in Nigeria, the breaking of kola nuts comes before any celebrations including funeral ceremonies. It is therefore our pleasure to request our dear prince and our Nigerian Police contingent commander to break the kola nut to mark our twin celebrations of decoration by AMISOM as well as our 51st independence celebration,” Master of Ceremony Deputy Superintendent Augustine Egim, who is also the AMISOM Police spokesman said.

The kola nuts were imported all the way from Nigeria specifically for the twin celebrations together with specially designed Nigerian attires which were handed to the guest of honour Mr. Wamunyinyi as well as the AMISOM Force Commander Major General Fred Mugisha and two other guests seated at the high table.

“Nigeria strongly contributes towards the African Union and has participated in many peacekeeping missions in Africa. We wish to congratulate the people of Nigeria during their 51st independence anniversary celebration and urge them to continue their much-needed efforts in making Africa a better and safer place for us all, “ the AU Deputy Representative to Somalia, Mr. Wamunyinyi said.

AMISOM Force Commander Maj. Gen Mugisha said terrorism does not know borders by reminding the people of Africa on the destruction and deaths that continues to be carried out by terror gangs in both Somalia and Nigeria courtesy of Al-Shabaab and the Boko Haram terrorist organizations respectively.

“African countries cannot just watch as Somalia slips further into chaos because no country is safe from terrorism. We know Al-Shabaab militants help and train Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria. We thank our big brother Nigeria for sending their police to come and train their Somali brothers but we believe Nigerian military should also join us here to stem out terrorism from Somalia before it spreads.” The general noted.

Later after dusk though, the flamboyantly proud Nigerian police officers in Mogadishu danced and enjoyed their twin celebrations at their AMISOM Police quarters, where they live with other police officers from Sierra Leone, Ghana and Uganda.

“I wish to urge African women to push their men and leaders to help the Somali people. We cannot enjoy as our sisters and children in Somalia languish in poverty and war, it is not fair at all,” Superintendent Saluna Muntua Saleh said, looking relaxed and happy.

The young and old freely mingled after a light dinner of lamb chops, goat meat and potatoes served by the four Nigerian women police officers who downed their colourful West African dresses.

The music and dance that accompanied the dinner did not disappoint either. West African music dominated the night with almost everyone in attendance swinging a leg every time Nigerian musical darling Flavour’s song Ashawo hit the airwaves.

“It is good to dance and enjoy our decoration and our independence day in Mogadishu. We have come to Somalia to help our brothers and sisters get out of the current problems. We wish to assure our people back home that we are well and that we dully represent them in Somalia,” Nigerian Police Contingent Commander and Assistant Commissioner of Police Isaac Sunday Obafaye said.

His Deputy Nasiru Mohammed is touched by the impact of the war in Mogadishu and remembers the great old days when Somalia was a powerful country in Africa that has a rich culture.

“Somalia’s problem is a challenge to the whole of Africa. Africa must come together to help this great country called Somalia. I remember in 1977 when Somalia attended a cultural event in Nigeria and actually won it. We must never accept to see such a great nation go to waste,” he said, sweat dripping off his face from dancing to the rigorous and demanding Nigerian tunes.