Banjul, GAMBIA, 4 April 2012/ DOB/ AA: At least 74 Technical Aid Corps (TAC) volunteers from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who were deployed to The Gambia in March 2010, have successfully completed their two-year tour of duty in the country.

As an instrument of Nigeria's foreign policy, the TAC programme is an alternative to direct financial aid for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations. It is designed, not only to provide manpower assistance in all fields of human endeavour, but to also represent a practical demonstration of South-South cooperation.

The volunteers, drawn from diverse areas, provided manpower assistance in many areas of the country's socio-economic development sectors during their two-year spell in the country. The TAC is a scheme set up by the federal government of the Republic of Nigeria in 1987 as a foreign policy tool that would serve specific national interests.

The statute establishing the scheme – Decree 27 – was signed into a law on 22 January 1993 and officially documented on 5th May 1993, thus giving it a legal backing and framework.

Addressing the outgoing volunteers at the President's International Award Scheme in Bakau, where a farewell ceremony was organised, the consular at the Nigerian High Commission in The Gambia, Vanesse Des- Ogugus, expressed gratitude to the Nigerian government for contributing immensely to the development of its sister nations.

She told the gathering that since the inception of the scheme, it has reinforced the focus of Nigeria's foreign policy initiatives on strengthening and sustaining both sub-regional and regional cooperation. The initiative, she posited was not only expected to provide trained manpower assistance in all fields of human endeavour, but to also assist in the capacity building of the recipient countries through training and retraining of personnel.

"The Gambia has always been a major beneficiary of the scheme and also one of the leading beneficiaries among the ACP countries," she said, expressing hope that the cooperation "continues to bloom."

The Nigerian diplomat averred that the 74 volunteers have worked in various sectors in the country including health, education, agriculture, noting that they have impacted positively on the lives of many Gambians.

"The volunteers that comprised of 33 medical personnel and 36 teachers were deployed on arrival in The Gambia to the rural areas stretchingup to Koina and Garawol in the Upper River Region," she indicated.

Des-Ogugus sized the opportunity to thank the president of the Republic of The Gambia for creating an enabling atmosphere for the effective performance of the volunteers in their respective endeavours.

Also addressing the volunteers, Momodou A. Jeng of the Basic and Secondary Education Ministry, thanked the volunteers for their efficient service in the course of their two-year mission in the country.

– By Fatoumata Ceesay/ Daily Observer (Banjul)