STEPHEN ANGBULU, PETER DADA, GODFREY GEORGE, IKENNA OBIANERI, BOLA BAMIGBOLA, PATRICK ODEY, OLAIDE OYELUDE, ADEYINKA ADEDIPE and ADA WODU
President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; and state governors were among those who laid wreaths at the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day in honour of the Nigerian military personnel who died in the line of duty.
The President on Saturday presided over the historic event at the National Arcade in Abuja, inspecting a Guard of Honour mounted by detachments of the Nigerian Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Nigerian Legion.
Buhari laid a wreath on the tomb of the unknown soldier as a mark of last respect to the fallen heroes who paid the supreme price to preserve the nation’s territorial integrity and peace globally.
Three volleys of 21 gun salute were fired at the event followed by the signing of the Remembrance Day Anniversary register by the President who thereafter, released white pigeons to indicate the harmony of the nation.
Also, state governors paid tributes to the fallen heroes, solicited support for their families and sued for peace and unity across the country.
The Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu urged all stakeholders to support the widows and dependants of personnel who died in the course of defending the country.
Akeredolu, who stated this at the final parade and laying of a wreath held at the government cenotaph, Alagbaka, Akure, said, “It would amount to doing them the greatest injustice, just to praise them with words alone, but valuable, when it is backed up with our supports, financially and materially to the legionnaires for the well-being of the widows and dependants of these patriotic Heroes.
“In effect, as part of government supports, we have decided to put smiles on the faces of the widows of the departed heroes, through the Micro credit revolving loans, to assist in resuscitating their trading businesses which had gone down over the years due to overbearing family commitments, which were hitherto the primary responsibility of their husbands.”
While praising the late heroes, the Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, called on politicians to avoid actions that would lead to bloodletting in the 2023 elections.
The governor in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, added, “Let us continue to show love to our heroes and their loved ones by supporting the various projects and interventions that have been set up to care for our men and women in uniform.”
In his remarks, the Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, hailed the Nigerian Armed Forces for the sacrifices they made in ensuring that citizens live a better life in the country.
The governor also expressed gratitude to the ex-service men and women living with different forms of disabilities as a result of conflict and war.
He said, “As we lay wreaths and release pigeons in their memory today, we pray for their peaceful repose in the bosom of Almighty God. We pray that the peace of God that surpasses all understanding should descend on Nigeria.”
His Osun State counterpart, Adegboyega Oyetola, enjoined Nigerians not to give up on the nation and called for more commitment to nation building.
Oyetola, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ismail Omipidan, assured that his administration would continue to draw inspiration from the lives of the fallen heroes.
He said, “No one of us should find an excuse for giving up on this dearly-beloved nation. Therefore, as a people, let us seize this day to recommit ourselves to the ideals of nationhood that are reflective of the vision of our forefathers, by taking responsibility to create a society that works for all.
“While thanking members of the armed forces for their immeasurable contributions to nation building, I, on behalf of our people, charge them to give more for our nation, knowing that no true and genuine service to humanity shall go unrewarded.”
In the same vein, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, charged politicians to eschew tendencies capable of heating up the polity or straining the cords of unity, as the nation approaches electioneering season.
He said, “the brave warriors we are honouring today, believed in something, an ideal or causes higher than their personal or collective interest, and that’s why they elected through volunteerism, not by conscription to sign up to fight for the preservation of our territorial integrity against foreign or domestic enemies.
“As we get ready to elect our next set of leaders, let us be reminded that national interest should and must triumph over our personal or group interest. Let me use this opportunity to appeal to our people to eschew tendencies that help provide the ferment for conflicts.”
The governor said besides the building of 168 blocks of flats for the officers and men of the Nigerian Army Battalion located in Ibagwa and water reticulation to provide potable water for residents of the barracks, his government had redeemed the promise of N100m grant to the widows of the fallen heroes in the state.
This was just as Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State called for more support for members of the Armed Forces and sister security agencies whose efforts he said keep the country safe.
Speaking in Ilorin, the state capital, after inspecting the guard of honour and laying the wreath in honour of fallen soldiers, AbdulRazaq, said, “The patriotic roles being played by the gallant officers in the service in curtailing insurgency and other security threats cannot be quantified. We salute all of them, including those of them who had lost their lives in the course of serving the nation.”
Addressing journalists after laying a wreath in Benin City, Edo State capital, Governor Godwin Obaseki urged Nigerians not to take the country’s unity achieved through the sacrifice of the fallen heroes for granted.
He reassured that the government would integrate family members of the fallen heroes in the social empowerment schemes being implemented in the state.
Obaseki stated, “People must understand that such careless talks caused the loss of lives and we should not lead ourselves where history will repeat itself in this country. As a government, we will continue to look out and take care of the families of those who have lost their lives. The ex-servicemen are well integrated into our security infrastructure in the state where they supervise certain groups and vigilantes in the state.
“We will continue to invest in our security architecture. I just spoke with the President of the wives of our fallen heroes and I made a request for the list of their members and their data so that we can begin to integrate them into some of our empowerment programmes which we are currently implementing in the state.”
Similarly, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said Nigeria’s military veterans could not be repaid for their supreme sacrifices, but demanded that their welfare should be treated as a priority by any government.
He said, “Soldiers lose life and limb in the course of serving their country. Nigeria owes them a debt of eternal gratitude for their immeasurable sacrifices.
“It is embarrassing why our veterans should be allowed to be sleeping in the open to protest the nonpayment of their pensions.”
He also advised the government to streamline the payment system of “our veterans to avoid the humiliation of recourse to protest the non-payment of their entitlements.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army on Saturday in Katsina treated no fewer than 120 people for various ailments as part of activities marking the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
The medical outreach was carried out at the Peoples Square, opposite Government House, Katsina where parade and laying of wreaths were also held in honour of fallen heroes.
Among those treated were legionnaires and residents of the various neighbouring communities of the 35 Batallion and the 17 Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Katsina.
A look at the register of the beneficiaries showed that many of them complained of malaria, cough, high blood pressure and eye problems. Some beneficiaries also received COVID-19 jab at the venue.
The state, Governor Aminu Masari, who was the guest of honour at the event, assured that the government would not relent in its efforts at ensuring security of lives and property in the state.
He said, “It is also In recognition of these efforts that I extend my profound appreciation on behalf of the Government and people of Katsina State to the Commanders, officers, soldiers and airmen of 17 Brigade Nigerian Army and 213 Nigerian Air Force Forward Operating Base for their untiring sacrifice towards securing lives and properties of the citizens of Katsina State.
“The relative peace experienced now in this state is largely attributed to the dedication, professional competence and discipline of our brothers and sisters serving in the military and other sister security agencies. The relationship between the military and the host community has remained cordial and l urge you to maintain this laudable standard.”
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Farouq Yahaya, has gifted a brand new Hilux truck to a retired Warrant Officer of the Nigerian Army, Stephen Ekpe for his 35 years meritorious service to the nation.
The Commander of the 13 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Maj. Gen. P. Malla, presented the truck on Saturday in commemoration of this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day held at the Millennium Park in Calabar.
After receiving the vehicle gift, Stephen Ekpe thanked the army chief, describing him as a man of integrity for keeping his words.
He said though retired, he and his co-veterans still have a lot to contribute to the country by way of intelligence gathering and improving the security situation in the country.