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Interaction with Delegation from National Defence College (NDC), Nigeria

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  • June 01, 2022
    1030 to 1300 hrs

    The Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) hosted a delegation from the National Defence College (NDC), Nigeria for an interaction on 01 June 2022 at 1500 hours IST. The delegation comprised military officers from Nigeria and other African countries, along with Cmde Tikoo of the Indian Navy and a few civilian academics. The welcome remarks were delivered by Maj Gen Bipin Bakshi, Deputy Director General, MP-IDSA. Initial remarks were made by the leader of the delegation, Cmde Aniefiok Cletus Uko. Ms Ruchita Beri, Senior Research Associate and Centre Coordinator, Africa, LAC and UN Centre, MP-IDSA made a presentation on India-Nigeria relations and Cmde Abhay Kumar Singh, Research Fellow, MP-IDSA made a presentation on India-Nigeria Maritime Cooperation. The session was attended by scholars from the Institute’s ALACUN Centre and Military Affairs Centre. The key highlights of the discussion were India-Nigeria relations, India-Nigeria maritime cooperation and India’s role in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

    The MP-IDSA team was led by Maj Gen (Dr) Bipin Bakshi (Retd), Deputy Director-General, MP-IDSA, and included members from MP-IDSA's Africa, LAC & UN Centre and Military Affairs Centre. Maj Gen Bakshi welcomed the Nigerian delegation and expressed satisfaction with the growing cooperation between India and Nigeria on a number of fronts. He commented on the institutionalisation of the India-Africa Defence Dialogue, which aids in the exploration of new areas of convergence for mutual engagements such as capacity building, training, cyber security, maritime security, and counter-terrorism. He then outlined the various bilateral engagements and projects between India and Africa, including the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC), Pan Africa e-network, and e-VidyaBharti network project. Maj Gen Bakshi reiterated how India has made significant contributions to peacekeeping missions around the world, particularly in Africa. Finally, he introduced MP-IDSA to the delegates, detailing its activities, governance system, research, and training. He concluded that the current scenario between the two countries provides the best opportunities to advance the relationship.

    Cmde Aniefiok Cletus Uko, Director of Research and Analytical Support at the NDC, Nigeria, welcomed Maj Gen Bakshi's remarks on behalf of the Nigerian delegation, adding that India has had an impact on their training for many years, including NDC Commandant Rear Adm OB Daji, who underwent the NDC course in India with the DDG. He later reflected on the NDC's history, training process, and international collaborations.

    Cmde Uko remarked that the current dynamics in the international system have created a global order that is volatile on certain complex and systemic levels. To thrive in this environment, one must reach out. It is high time to build defence and security capacities to expose officers and people in the security sector to what happens elsewhere and see where one can exchange ideas and draw good lessons. He noted that the College would be touring 20 countries this year, divided into ten teams. The current visiting team is team four. He delineated that the focus of the current year's visit is medical care and human security in India as imperatives for Nigeria. Cmde Uko notes India is a leading country in meeting Nigeria's medical needs, with Indian pharmaceutical businesses playing an important part in the country's health delivery. Medical tourism is becoming incredibly popular among Nigerians, with India being the most preferred destination. He concluded by expressing that he hopes to learn more about India's health infrastructure and nursing reforms during this visit. He was especially pleased with the warm reception he got at the institute.

    During the meeting, Ms Ruchita Beri, Senior Research Associate & Coordinator, Africa, LAC & UN Centre, MP- IDSA, briefed on India-Nigeria ties. She recalled how MP-IDSA had previously hosted NDC delegations as well as other renowned personalities in the India-Africa Strategic Dialogue in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs. She opened her speech by referring to Prime Minister Modi's visit to Uganda in 2018 and announcing the ten guiding principles of India's engagement with Africa, which demonstrate the intensity and seriousness of New Delhi's engagement with Africa. Ms Beri pointed out that the main mantra of India's vision of engagement with Africa is partnership and mutual gain. In her speech, she addressed five issues, beginning with the two nations' historical ties. She recalled how India and Nigeria had similar colonial legacies and added that Nigerian nationalists were inspired by the Indian freedom struggle in their fight for independence. Ms Beri proceeded with the socio-cultural cooperation between the nations, alluding to the educational exchange between the two countries in which India grants scholarships to Nigerian students.

    The third topic raised by Ms Beri was economic ties and cooperation, highlighting how Nigeria is India's largest trading partner in Africa and India is Nigeria's second-largest trading partner. She asserted that pharmaceuticals play a significant role in India's exports to Nigeria and that the Covid-19 Pandemic has exposed the need for greater health collaboration between India and Nigeria. She believes it is critical to establish collaborative ventures, such as joint pharmaceutical companies, multi-speciality hospitals, in order to expand health cooperation between the two countries and enhance Nigeria's health security.

    On the topic of agriculture, Ms Beri reminded that Nigeria has the most uncultivated arable land in Africa and a significant potential for meeting not only Nigeria's but the whole African continent's food demands. In terms of security, given the two nations continue to confront multiple security concerns such as counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and maritime insecurity, India and Nigeria may strengthen their collaboration in this area.      Ms Beri highlighted that training has long been a cornerstone of India's defence and security cooperation with Nigeria.

    Ms Beri concluded her speech by reinforcing the need to reform multilateral institutions, and that India and Nigeria should take the lead and work together to ensure that voices from the Global South are heard in the multilateral fora, pushing for greater reforms in organisations like the United Nations and the World Trade Organizations. She contended that India and Nigeria share several common factors including large populations, democratic political systems, and diverse societies that face similar challenges such as terrorism and strive for inclusive socioeconomic development. These commonalities spur a greater cooperation between India and Nigeria.

    In the second session, Cmde Abhay Kumar Singh, Research Fellow, MP-IDSA, gave a briefing on India-Nigeria Maritime Cooperation. He summarised his talk by discussing the strategic approach to maritime cooperation in the IOR and in Africa in general, as well as the aspects of bilateral maritime cooperation between the two nations. He underlined that the two guiding principles of India-Africa defence relations are 'SAGAR' (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' (universal friendship across the globe).

    The maritime domain is crucial to Africa's peace, security, and development. With an expansion in resource extraction activities at sea, not only has the amount of marine traffic increased but so has the rate of maritime crime. The widespread illegal capture and exploitation of continents' nautical resources have sparked calls for stronger maritime governance. Piracy has been a major source of worry in the Gulf of Aden. He further said that the world needs cooperation, not competition, in the African and Indian Ocean regions. As a result, India's vision of Indian Ocean Region is cooperative and inclusive, with a focus on security and progress for all in the region. India has extended support to African countries by offering military assistance, capacity building, and training. The Indian Navy has provided maritime assistance to friendly nations on their request to address the specific requirements including hydrographic survey, ordnance disposal, salvage, search and rescue, and overseeing ship’s construction.    He said that this type of maritime assistance demonstrates the trust and confidence of the requesting nations in India's capabilities and preparedness to solve contingency issues.

    Cmde Singh emphasised that one of the most significant components of India-Nigeria maritime cooperation has been cooperation on maritime domain awareness, for which India has signed a white shipping agreement with Nigeria to exchange views on commercial shipping presence in each other's territories. In 2018, the Nigerian Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, visited India, as did a team comprised of representatives from the National Security Council.

    In conclusion, he stated that India, the world's largest democracy, and Nigeria, Africa's largest democracy, share ideals of pluralism, inclusion and sustainable development and that deeper bilateral ties are anticipated to maintain momentum.

    Q/A Session

    Several issues were raised during the discussions, including rising piracy in the Gulf of Aden, future prospects of India establishing a base in Africa, countering Chinese influence in the IOR, the prospects of medical tourism, and so forth. The Nigerians were amazed by the stability and absence of military coups in India and no role of the military in the country’s politics. Perhaps lessons could be learnt/shared from India's stable and strong democratic traditions. The team was particularly interested in the institute's research on counterterrorism and India-Nigeria ties. They also expressed an interest in initiating formal cooperation between NDC Nigeria’s Centre for Strategic Research and Studies (CSRS) and MP-IDSA. The discussion was informative, with the NDC delegates and the MP-IDSA scholars learning a lot about each other's perspectives on regional issues and bilateral ties. A vote of thanks was presented by a member of the NDC delegation. The meeting concluded with Maj Gen Bakshi thanking the delegation and exchange of mementoes on both sides.