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2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day: Preserve national peace, Nigerians urge Buhari

By Terhemba Daka (Abuja), Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt), Azeez Olorunlomeru (Lagos), Timothy Agbor (Osogbo), Odun Edward (Ilorin), Danjuma Michael (Katsina), Nnamdi Akpa (Abakaliki), Inemesit Akpan-Nsoh (Uyo) and Ahmad Muhammad (Kano)
16 January 2022   |   3:45 am
Nigerians, yesterday, on the occasion of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day (AFRD), paid glowing tributes to fallen heroes who paid the ultimate price while defending their fatherland...

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Nigerians, yesterday, on the occasion of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day (AFRD), paid glowing tributes to fallen heroes who paid the ultimate price while defending their fatherland, and living members of the Forces who survived to tell stories of horrors of war and conflicts.

But as the nation honoured their memory, the Federal Government was charged to rise to the challenge of insecurity confronting the country on various fronts and redouble efforts at securing lives and property.

Particularly, insurgency, banditry, widespread kidnapping, and unbridled killings, among others, were identified by leaders of thought, stakeholders and various groups as some of the challenges threatening national peace, which the government must strive to check.

Aside from state governors who honoured the heroes and laid wreaths in their respective domains, President Muhammadu Buhari presided over the yearly Remembrance Day ceremonies with an event held at the National Arcade, opposite Eagles Square, Abuja, as he inspected a Guard of Honour provided by detachments drawn from the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force and members of the Nigerian Legion. Prayers were later offered by Christian and Muslim clerics for the repose of the souls of the departed and the health of the nation.

President proceeded to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a mark of respect to the fallen heroes who paid the supreme price to keep global peace and preserve Nigeria’s territorial integrity.

Thereafter, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello represented by his Minister of State, Ramatu Aliyu; Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd); Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, Service Chiefs, and the Nigerian Legion, among others, respectively followed the President to lay wreaths.

Three volleys of 21 gun salute were fired at the event, followed by the signing of the Remembrance Day anniversary register by the president, accompanied by heads of the other branches of government, military chiefs and other top officials. President Buhari then released white pigeons to signify harmony in the nation.

In Port Harcourt, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, charged the President to intensify efforts in fulfilling his electoral promise of securing the country, noting that Nigeria was at a crossroad with everyone weary about the prolonged Boko Haram insurgency in many parts of the country.

Speaking during the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Ceremony yesterday, he observed that unbridled killings by bandits and increasing insecurity have reached alarming levels in most parts of the country with members of the armed forces being made to pay the price of containing these internal wars continuously.

“We acknowledge that some progress has been made in the fight against the insurgents. However, the generality of Nigerians believes that the progress made can’t be good enough insofar as Boko haram, its affiliates and the bandits are still active in the Northeast, Northwest and some other parts of the country, killing, maiming and kidnapping helpless people, including school children, and destroying and displacing hapless communities.

“We call on Mr. President to redouble his efforts and fulfill 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.”

Wike stressed the need for the Federal Government to prioritise the equipping of the armed forces appropriately. This, he noted, will 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.

While describing officers and men of the Force as enduring symbols of national unity, he said that Nigerians were counting on them to quickly end the raging insurgency and restore peace and hope to distressed people and communities who bear the physical, emotional and psychological scars of war and destruction.

Wike pledged that the Rivers State Government would continue to identify and support their families to cushion their pains. He donated N50million as support fund for widows of the fallen heroes. OSUN State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, urged Nigerians to recommit themselves to the ideals of nationhood by taking responsibility to create a society that works for all in line with the vision of their forefathers.

At the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in Osogbo, he saluted fallen heroes at the military cenotaph, Osogbo, and the living heroes of the Nigerian Armed Forces for their selfless service, and for paying the supreme price to keep Nigeria one, united and indivisible entity.

Oyetola noted that the Remembrance Day was a day of sober reflection to consider the sacrifices of the soldiers who, in the quest for sustaining unity and collective sovereignty, paid the supreme sacrifice to keep the country united, indivisible and peaceful.

He said his administration was fully committed to encouraging members of the Armed Forces through diverse interventions and would continue to raise the bar in the provision of qualitative governance in a manner that improves the living standard of the people.

Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun, called on Nigerians to continue to ensure oneness and unity of the country, saying only one indivisible nation would ensure peace, progress and development. This, he said, would ensure that the labours of past heroes were not in vain.

Addressing newsmen shortly after the special parade/laying of wreath ceremony at the Arcade Ground of the Governor’s Office, Abeokuta, yesterday, he called on governments and well-meaning Nigerians to see to the welfare of the children and spouses left behind by the heroes who fought for the territorial integrity and unity of the nation, adding, “the least we can do for them is to remember this day accordingly, but not just to remember this day as a day only, we must spend everyday remembering them.”

Abiodun, while calling for sober reflections, noted that the celebration of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day is in tandem with the stanza of the national anthem, which states that the labour of our heroes past must not be in vain.

IN Kwara State, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq canvassed more support for members of the Armed Forces and sister security agencies whose efforts, he said, have kept the country united and its people safe.

Speaking shortly after inspecting the guard of honour and laying the wreath in honour of fallen soldiers, the governor urged members of the public to support families of fallen soldiers in every way possible as well as offer actionable intelligence to those still in active service.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for progressively scaling up the welfare of the security forces, saying his administration would continue to support the agencies in its own ways.

“Partnering with the security agencies is an ongoing exercise. Security belongs to everyone. Not just the agencies. We make their task easier if we support them as a people. They need actionable intelligence from the public for them to be able to protect us. In other words, all of us should be part of the security architecture,” AbdulRazaq said.

Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State, while lauding efforts of both the military and paramilitary agencies in combating crime and criminality and bringing relative peace to the country, pledged state government’s support to the security agencies in their bid to rid the state of criminals. Katsina State, like most in the northwest, is facing security challenges brought about by activities of bandits, rustlers and kidnappers, with hundreds of lives lost and thousands of animals rustled.

“In recognition of these efforts, I extend my 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 and competence of our brothers and sisters serving in the military and other sister security agencies,” he noted.
THE Ebonyi chapter of Nigerian Legion used the occasion to call for improved welfare, and employment for members, wives of the departed.

Its chairman, Captain Fidelis Ogodo, said that their members and wives deserve welfare packages, employment and other logistics from both the federal and state governments to enable them cope with economic challenges.

On her part, the President of Military Widows Association, Mrs. Margaret Luke Diya lamented that wives and children of ex-service men, who lost their lives in active service, had been forgotten.

She called on Federal Government to do everything possible to employ their children who have graduated from various institutions of higher learning as part of measures to assist the bereaved families.

Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom called on politicians to be mindful of playing up sentiments capable of heating up the polity. He also appealed to citizens to be mindful of tendencies that could strain the cords of unity of the country, especially as the nation approaches another electioneering season.

The Governor urged Nigerians to embrace peace, stressing that behaviours that do not promote peace would be inimical to the unity and growth of the nation, and thereby debase the sacrifices of the fallen heroes who voluntarily paid the supreme price for the survival of the nation.

Emmanuel expressed appreciation over the collaborative efforts of the various armed forces to mitigate criminal activities in the state, saying it has contributed to the status of the state as the most peaceful in the country.

According to him, besides the building of 168 blocks of flats for the officers and men of the Nigerian Army Battalion located in Ibagwa as well as water reticulation to provide potable water for residents of the barracks, his government had redeemed the promise of One hundred million naira (N100, 000,000.00) grant to widows of fallen heroes in the state.

GOVERNOR Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State was at the Michael Okpara Square, Independence Layout, Enugu, yesterday, to pray for and honour the fallen heroes in commemoration of this year’s AFRD.

Ugwuanyi who on arrival at the venue of the yearly ritual, observed and inspected the parade mounted by the Military, laid the Remembrance Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and released the pigeons symbolising 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.

For former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Nigeria’s next government must revisit all reports of the various security summits and other such recommendations and harmonise them to quickly end the security crisis across the country.

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

He commended the courage and patriotism of members of the various security agencies who have continued to fight against enemies of the country within and outside while also seeking better motivation for them and their families while in service and after retirement.

“We already have enough recommendations from the various summits, dialogues, and special sessions on security organised by the executive, legislature, non-governmental organisations, and development partners. All a new government should do is harness the recommendations and demonstrate the strong will, determination, and urgency in translating them into operation,” he said.

Saraki, however, stressed that there must be transparency, accountability, and openness in the application of funds devoted to security across board. “We must also prioritise new strategies that will put technology at the forefront of our security arrangement. We must be able to adopt modern-day strategies that will help in intelligence gathering; plugging the financial loopholes that these terrorists and bandits exploit, and stop playing lip service to the issue of security.”

FOR Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, remembering those who fought the civil wars and other wars to keep Nigeria one was novel, but he urged the Nigerian Army to rise above the current security threats bedeviling the country.

“Considering the security challenges we have in the country, this day is important so that our security operatives will take their responsibilities very diligently. This way, we can continue to exist as one nation, ridding ourselves of criminals among us,” Ganduje stated.