At the Port Loko Teachers College, where he commissioned a three-classroom block built by Nigerian Battalion (NIBATT 12) peacekeepers, the Special Representative said the gesture "does not just reflect an African tradition but is also the best tradition of the expanded concept of peacekeeping operations organized by the UN."
Describing the building as a worthy legacy, the Ambassador Adeniji said Sierra Leone needed all the contributions that can make it elevate itself from its rank at the bottom of the UN Development Programme (UNDP)'s Human Development Index. He acknowledged that friends of Sierra Leone such as NIBATT were ready to help but admonished Sierra Leoneans to make their own contributions.
He thanked officers and men of NIBATT 12 for the project and said the building would open more opportunities for students who would not have been admitted for lack of space.
UNAMSIL Sector West Commander, who is also head of the Nigerian contingent in Sierra Leone, Brig. Gen. Steve Guar, earlier stressed that the job of a peacekeeper was not just to keep peace but also to maintain it. Maintaining peace, Brig. Gen. Guar added, involved winning the minds and souls of the people. He said it was the desire of Nigeria to see Sierra Leone stand again and promised that in-coming Nigerian battalions would follow the tradition of their predecessors.
The Commanding Officer of NIBATT 12, Lt. Col. Audu Baba, said the gesture was their token of appreciation to a college that has hosted them for nearly a year. Lt. Col. Baba traced the history of the relationship between the Teachers College and the Nigerian battalions and disclosed that Nigerian troops from the Economic Community for West African States' Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) had stayed in the college before UNAMSIL moved in.
The Principal of the College, Ibrahim Bangor, expressed appreciation to NIBATT and promised that the building would be used for its intended purpose. While commending NIBATT 12, the principal said "it takes people with courage to lay their lives for other people." With increasing school enrolment, Mr. Bangura noted that the new building was constructed at the right time.
The Special Representative, accompanied by UNAMSIL Force Commander Gen. Daniel Ishmael Opande, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Ambassador Polycarp Azigie, and other UNAMSIL staff, was taken on a conducted tour of the new building.
Meanwhile, at the handing over ceremony of the Bangla-Sierra Friendship School, Ambassador Adeniji said the Bangladeshi Signals Company (BANSIG 2) had made a noble effort. He told people who had gathered to witness the event that they must ensure that the sacrifices made by the Bangladeshi peacekeepers were not wasted by careless use and vandalism.
The Commanding Officer of the BANSIG 2, Col. Asifu Hossain, said the facilities were their own contribution towards uplifting the standard of education in Port Loko. The Special Representative, the Force Commander and the Sector West Commander later handed over furniture, school uniforms and the school complex, before planting trees in the school compound.
UNAMSIL Headquarters, Mammy Yoko, P. O. Box 5, Freetown, Sierra Leone Tel: 232-22-273-183/4/5 Fax: 232-22-273-189