Nigerian army moves to enhance capacity of officers in military diplomacy

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The Nigerian Army on Wednesday commenced a three-day capacity building workshop on Protocol and Liaison Duties to enhance the capacity of officers in protocol and liaison functions as well as military diplomacy.

The workshop with the theme, “Enhancing the Nigerian Army Protocol and Liaison Capability for Efficient Service Delivery,” was organised by the Army Headquarters’ Department of Special Services and Programmes.

Speaking at the opening, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya, said the workshop was borne out of the need for more effective coordination of all Nigerian army liaison, special and ceremonial events as well as other organised programmes in line with best practices.

Yahaya said the establishment of the Directorate of Protocol in the Department of Special Services and Programmes had illustrated the desire to uphold international best practices and regulations in dealing with diplomatic protocol, precedence and etiquette.

According to him, the department so far has been able to take up laudable initiatives aimed at repositioning Nigerian Army’s protocol and liaison duties for optimal performance in support of operational goals.

“Its initiative to partner with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other accredited institutions to undertake specific courses for building personnel capacity on protocol and liaison duties in the Service is indeed a welcome idea.

“This initiative will help in developing the capacity for the newly established Directorate of Protocol to carry out its mandate professionally and efficiently during Nigerian Army international and domestic engagements.

“The increase in military-to-military bilateral contacts and engagements with friendly allies all over the world calls for better understanding of protocol functions in support of our strategic engagements,” he said.

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The COAS said the current security environment was dynamic and characterised by uncertainty and complexity which required increased liaison with stakeholders at all levels.

This, according to him, calls for training and capacity development in protocol and liaison duties to facilitate various levels of engagements with internal and external partners.

He said the workshop was expected to develop the capacity of army personnel to conduct protocol duties in furtherance of army’s strategic and operational objectives.

Yahaya said the Nigerian Army would continue to act professionally in building all components of fighting power to demonstrate its readiness to fulfil its constitutional roles in the defence of Nigeria.

He acknowledged the competence exhibited by personnel during the Presidential and Gubernatorial Elections, pledging to continue to provide the right leadership and guidance for troops.

He also promised to sustain commitment towards the acquisition of more equipment and platforms to ensure that the war against insurgency, banditry and other violent crimes in the country was brought to an end.

He urged personal to continue to be professional in their conduct and portray the Nigerian Army as the pride of the nation.

The Chief of Special Services and Prigrammes (Army), Maj.-Gen. Emeka Onumajuru, said the army had increased interface with internal external interlocutors towards addressing national and sub-regional security challenges to fulfill its role.

Onumajuru said the purpose of the workshop was to build capacity of personnel across board on protocol and liaison duties to be able to carry out thier mandate professionally and efficiently.

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He said it was envisaged that the workshop would provide a more appropriate avenue for relevant interaction among professionals in protocol and liaison.

“It is envisaged that this workshop will stimulate discussion on protocol and liaison issues in the army that will provide the basis for policy and procedural responses.

“Specifically, it would, among others, promote a deeper understanding of protocol and liaison issues, particularly as they support defence diplomacy, military geometric counters and bilateral army to army staff talk,” he said.

The keynote speaker and retired Nigerian Diplomat, Amb. Oluwole Coker, said military diplomacy was an important aspect of the diplomatic relations of any country, hence the need for capacity building of military officers in that regard.

Coker delivered a paper titled, “Building Strong Protocol Capacity for Enhanced Military Diplomacy and National Security: Strategic Option for the Nigerian Army.”

He said it was also necessary for officers responsible for internal activities of the army to be the best and knowledgeable in protocol and liaison responsibilities.

A discussant, Amb Akin Oyeteru, said protocol facilitates smooth interaction between officials, adding that the ultimate aim of pprotocol was the avoidance of unnecessary confrontation.

Oyeteru said protocol officers required knowledge to become valuable, adding that punctuality, politeness, trustworthiness and patience were core attributes of a protocol officer.

According to him, military diplomacy is a subset of defense diplomacy which has to do mainly with military attaches and the functions.

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