BY KINGSLEY OMONOBI
ABUJA— President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday vowed he will do all that is required to sanitize the armed forces, warning that anything or conduct from any arm of the forces capable of bringing embarrassment and bad image to the country would not be tolerated.
Speaking at the commissioning of the 176 Guards Brigade Battalion barracks in Kuje, the President noted that the armed forces of Nigeria have brought pride and given the nation positive reputation.Declaring that his administration will never toy with the welfare of officers and men of the armed forces, he said,” These are the people who stay awake for us to go to sleep.”
Emphasizing the importance of the armed forces, he said, “In countries where lives and property are secured, such countries are respected in the comity of nations than those that pay little attention to security”.
While assuring that his government will support the military in terms of their professionalism and welfare which would enable them to compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world, he said, “Let me assure the armed forces that this administration will work with them because one thing I believe is that the strength of any nation depends on the strength of their security. It does not depend on how powerful their politicians are, it depends on the security.
“Even from history, for a king to defend his kingdom or an emir to defend his emirate, he must have very strong security and even in modern times, people respect nations not because they have talking politicians who will always talk but because they get strong security.
“Government would continue to work with the services to make sure that we strengthen the Nigerian security services.”
He said he has directed the setting up of a committee under the chairmanship of the Vice President Namadi Sambo whose terms of reference include seeking for adequate funding for the security services outside the annual budget.
Jonathan added: “Already I have set up a committee headed by the Vice President and the committee was set up in one of our security council meetings and we are looking at different areas to fund some of the activities of the armed forces outside budgeting.” essentially area that have to do with innovation.”
He advocated encouragement to the defence industry aside from funding the Defence Industry Corporation (DICON) adding “We are reviewing the whole process and we believe that as a nation, we are not doing too well in terms of improving our competence in building our capacity.”
He noted how some fine officers are being retired while their wealth of experience is being wasted. In order to arrest this culture of waste, the President said the Vice President panel would also find ways of strengthening the military institutions with a view of using competent officers as resource persons in their retirement.
He made it crystal clear to them that the welfare of the officers and soldiers is at the heart of his government. According to him, nobody would expect a person living in a miserable environment to behave like a decent human being. He commended the three services for their contributions to the transformational agenda of his government.
Earlier in his address, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Onyeabo Azubike Ihejirika appreciated the support and the encouragement of the President, his government and the National Assembly. He specifically commended President Jonathan for establishing the 176 Guards Battalion during his leadership.
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