Armed Forces Remembrance Day: Wike tasks president to end killings by Boko Haram, bandits

From: Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Okwe Obi (Abuja), Tony John (Port Harcourt), Lukman Olabiyi (Lagos), Agaju Madugba (Katsina), Gyang Bere (Jos), Laide Raheem (Abeokuta), Femi Folaranmi (Yenagoa),

In what could be described as a say-no-word ceremony, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at the National Arcade, opposite the Eagle Square in the Three Arms Zone, Abuja, to mark the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day (AFRD).

The activities started October 28, 2021 when the president launched the remembrance emblem at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

As part of the AFRD ceremony, the president inspected a Guard of Honour mounted by detachments of the Nigerian Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Nigerian Legion.

Prayers were said by Christian and Muslim clerics for the peaceful repose of the souls of the dead and the health of the nation.

Taking turns, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello who was represented by his Minister of State, Ramatu Aliyu, and Minister of Defence, General Bashir Magashi, among others, also laid wreaths.

Speaking at a similar event yesterday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, Governor Nyesom Wike called on President Muhammadu Buhari to redouble efforts to fulfil his cardinal electoral promise of securing the country.

Wike said Nigeria is at the crossroads and the citizenry has become weary about the prolonged Boko Haram insurgency and banditry in parts of the country, both of which he stressed had occasioned unbridled killings by the bandits and the insurgents resulting in members of the Armed Forces paying the supreme price of containing these internal wars continuously.

His words: “We acknowledge that some progress has been made in the fight against the insurgents. However, the generality of Nigerians believe that the progress made can’t be good enough insofar as Boko Haram, its affiliates and the bandits are still active in the North-East, North-West and some other parts of the country, killing, maiming and kidnapping helpless people, including school children, and destroying and displacing hapless communities.

“We, therefore, call on Mr President to redouble his efforts and fulfil his cardinal electoral promise to secure the country and ensure that Nigerians feel safe and remain safe and secure wherever they are in their own country.”

Governor Wike reiterated the need for the Federal Government to take as top priority the equipping of the nation’s Armed Forces appropriately.

He noted it would motivate men and officers of the military to be well poised to accomplish the noble task of securing the country and ensure that Nigerians feel safe within their various communities.

“We also count on our Armed Forces to quickly end the raging insurgency and restore peace and hope to all our distressed people and communities who bear the physical, emotional and psychological scars of war and destruction.”

Speaking further, Governor Wike stated that officers and men of the Armed Forces are enduring symbols of national unity.

He said Nigerians are proud of them for their principled loyalty to the nation, including their capacity and commitment to defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity, democracy and constitutional freedoms of the citizenry.

“It is also significant to appreciate that, for several families across the nation and communities, today’s remembrance ceremony is a very painful reminder of the loved ones that they lost years, months and even barely weeks ago.

“Perhaps, granting consent for a loved one to enlist in the Armed Forces knowing that he or she may die in the service, remains one of the toughest decisions any parent, guardian or spouse can make.

Governor Wike, therefore, pledged that Rivers Government would continue to identify with members of the Armed Forces and support the families of those that have died in national service, to cushion the pains of their bereaved families.

He donated N50 million as support fund that would help widows of the fallen heroes to have something to do to eke a living.

In his message on the occasion of AFRD, former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, said Nigeria’s military veterans could not be repaid for their supreme sacrifices, but noted that their welfare should be treated as a priority by any government, stressing that laying down one’s life in the defence of the country and fellow citizens is the highest sacrifice for the sake of patriotism.

Soldiers, he said, lose life and limb in the course of serving their country, and added that Nigeria owes them a debt of eternal gratitude for their immeasurable sacrifices.

Atiku said: “It is embarrassing why our veterans should be allowed to be sleeping in the open to protest the non-payment of their pensions.”

He also advised the government to streamline the payment system of the country’s veterans to avoid the humiliation of recourse to protest the non-payment of their entitlements.

Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma on his part advocated the setting up of businesses for spouses of the Nigerian fallen heroes so that they can earn a living on their own instead of waiting for handouts.

Speaking at the AFRD ceremony held the Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu Stadium Owerri, Governor Uzodimma said “Nigerians should do something exemplary to provide for the families and relations of the fallen heroes left behind so that it will be a source of encouragement and motivation to officers that are serving.”

He said he believes Government at all levels can do better to alleviate the problems of the families and relations of the fallen heroes.

In Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to continue to support the Nigerian Armed Forces in security formation and intelligence to keep the state safe.

Sanwo-Olu stated this at the state Ministry of Home Affairs Parade and Wreath Laying Ceremony to commemorate 2022, Armed Forces Remembrance Day.

At the event held at the Remembrance Arcade, Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, Governor Sanwo-Olu also said the event was a regular tradition set aside for the remembrance of fallen heroes and that his government had been proactive through the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to ensure the welfare of Nigerian legion and spouses of fallen heroes were taken adequate care of.

He said various interventions had been made by his administration to help them with skills and empowerment adding that over 5000 members of the Nigerian legion were employed in the state, while N50 million was also used to support them to launch the emblem, among others.

In Plateau State, Governor Simon Lalong paid tribute to Nigerian fallen heroes who he said made sacrifices for the unity, peace and stability of Nigeria.

He urged all citizens to honour their courage by living in peace with one another and exposing criminals. Lalong stated this during the laying of wreaths to commemorate the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at the Joseph Gomwalk Secretariat, Jos.


His Ogun State counterpart, Prince Dapo Abiodun speaking at Abeokuta, noted that the best way to keep the memories of Nigeria’s fallen heroes is for the people to ensure that country remained one, indivisible nation.

Abiodun made this known while fielding questions from journalists shortly after the special parade/laying of wreath ceremony to mark the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration, held at the Arcade Ground of the Governor’s Office, Abeokuta, yesterday.

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He also called on the governments and well-meaning Nigerians to see to the welfare of the children and spouses left behind by the heroes who fought to sustain the territorial integrity and unity of the nation.

On his part, former Senate president, Bukola Saraki urged the government to revisit all reports of the various security summits and other such recommendations and harmonize them to quickly end the security crisis across the country.

In a statement signed by Head of the Abubakar Bukola Saraki Media Office, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki, stated that the implementation of the recommendations requires strong political will and transparency to ensure immediate success.

Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who commemorated AFRD at the Michael Okpara Square, Independence Layout, Enugu, where he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier also released pigeons symbolizing peace, after Christian and Islamic prayers were offered for the repose of the fallen heroes’ souls and the wellbeing of their families.

The governor thereafter identified with wives of the fallen heroes present at the event and announced donation of gift items to them in commemoration of the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day.

Governor Adegboyaga Oyetola of Osun State urged Nigerians to seize the day to recommit to the ideals of nationhood by taking responsibility to create a society that works for all in line with the vision of the founding fathers.

He said citizens must resolve to give all for the development of their fatherland, adding, “No one of us should find an excuse for giving up on this dearly-beloved nation.”

Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, in his remarks at the AFRD ceremony commended the military over what he described as their unwavering efforts at tackling the menace of banditry in the area.

He urged them to sustain the tempo even as he eulogised members of the armed forces who paid the supreme price in the course of their service in the state.

Similarly, a group, Unity Advocacy Group (UAG), has implored Nigerians to pray for military personnel in their quest to tackle insecurity.

Convener of the group, Ifeanyi Aigbedion, in a statement, yesterday, noted that the Nigerian troops have remained a binding force uniting the country that cannot be quantified, and urged the citizenry to recognise the need to build a just and equitable society devoid of conflict.

With politicking towards for the general elections getting stronger, Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has called on politicians to avoid actions that would lead to bloodletting in the 2023 elections.

Governor Diri stated this during the AFRD celebration held at the Peace Park in Yenagoa.

According to him the outcome of elections should be determined by the ballot box and not the strength of the gun, adding that the ultimate power to enthrone leadership lies in the hands of God.

He recalled the bloodletting that characterised the 2019 governorship campaigns in Nembe community and cautioned that all political players should vow never to allow the killing of youths in the state because of elections in spite of their ambitions.

Governor Diri, who appreciated the sacrifices of fallen heroes and serving members of the Nigerian Armed Forces to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria, noted that the remembrance day should remind Nigerians of the sacrifices of the military and the need to live in peace and unity.

He called on the people to support projects and intervention programmes initiated to care for the loved ones of fallen heroes and servicemen as a token of appreciation for the sacrifices the military men are making for the safety of all.

Governor ‘Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, yesterday reiterated his administration’s determination to ensure that the toils of the nation’s fallen heroes don’t go in vain.

Speaking at the grand finale of this year’s AFRD, held at the Remembrance Arcade, Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, Makinde promised to keep encouraging and working closely with members of the armed forces and the survivors of the fallen heroes and heroines.

In a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, Makinde commended the officers and men of the security agencies for their efforts in battling insecurity in the state, urging them to continue to do their best to ensure that peace reigns in the state and the country at large.

PDP tasks FG on welfare of soldiers

From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, charged the Federal Government to ensure the welfare of soldiers and families of fallen heroes, who died in the service of the country.

The PDP, in a statement, on the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, lauded members of the Armed forces for their courage, loyalty, sacrifice and resilience in defending the country, especially in the last six years.

The statement, which was signed by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, also charged the government to provide the military with adequate equipment, so as to ensure their effectiveness in defending the country.

The statement read in part: “The PDP acknowledges the bravery and patriotism of our gallant soldiers in the frontlines, who despite the daunting challenges, daily put their lives on the line, with many paying the supreme price for the unity and security of our country.

“The Remembrance Day presents the government the occasion for sober reflection to get more committed towards internal security and the fight against terrorism in our country, particularly in limiting the extent of avoidable danger which our military is exposed to daily.

“The PDP also demands that the government takes steps to provide our military with adequate equipment as well as improve on the welfare of our troops to ensure effectiveness in their duty to the nation.”