Buhari launches 2016 Armed Forces Remembrance Day
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to Nigerians to demonstrate their collective appreciations to the selfless sacrifices made by veterans of the Nigerian Armed Forces by donating generously for their up keep and the families f the fallen heroes.
The President, who made the appeal during the formal launch of the 2016 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, emblem and appeal fund at the Aso Council Chambers, State House, Abuja on Monday, said the veterans deserved the support and of all Nigerians because of the invaluable contributions they have made towards keeping the nation one united entity.
To give practical vent to his appeal, he announced a donation of N10 million on behalf of the federal government to the coffers of the Nigerian Legion and called on good spirited individuals and corporate organisations to give the war veterans the opportunity to make a decent living out of their retirement lives.
The President said the occasion should serve as a reminder of the need for Nigerians to appreciate the noble contributions of the fallen heroes who paid the supreme price to maintain national and international peace and security. He recalled that Nigeria recently celebrated 55 years of political independence and submitted that it would continue to remain as one indivisible entity despite several grievous challenges.
The President noted that since independence, Nigeria has witnessed a lot of internal strife, survived a civil war and has remained united, noting that the feat achieved by the country is an eloquent testimony to the determination of her citizens to remain as one people.
“It is therefore appropriate that the Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration is observed annually on 15th of January to commemorate the selfless service of our gallant troops in military campaigns and wars especially the Nigerian Civil War as well as the current counter terrorism operations being prosecuted by our brave service men.”
The President described the theme of this year’s celebration, “Motivating the Nigerian Armed Forces for Effective Service Delivery” as apt, particularly as the nation was passing through what he described as trying times.
Buhari expressed appreciation for the courage and sacrifices of men and women of Nigerian Armed Forces in grappling with the wave of terrorism, oil theft and piracy in some parts of our country. He said they have displayed unalloyed loyalty and commitment to Nigeria.
“In their arduous task to keep Nigeria safe and united, some of these gallant officers and men lost their lives. To them we pay special tribute and pray for the repose of their souls. Fellow countrymen and women, consider the situation and conditions under which they died or suffered physical incapacitation.
“It behoves us who are living beneficiaries of their sacrifice to contribute towards the welfare and sustenance of their dependants. Our modest effort will go a long way to demonstrate our depth of gratitude and ameliorate their present condition.”
He expressed satisfaction that Nigerian Legion which is the umbrella body of the veterans has continued to contribute to the growth and development of the country. “My dear Legionnaires, as we celebrate this important day, I commend you for your steadfastness, perseverance and exemplary conduct. The members of this body have continued even in retirement to provide excellent services in all spheres of our national life.
“As a responsible organization, the Legion has introduced the Nigerian Legion Humanitarian Day as part of activities marking the annual Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration. This is an avenue through which legionnaires reach out to the society by carrying out some social works, humanitarian activities as well as empowering widows and dependents of our fallen heroes.
“I therefore call on well-meaning Nigerians and corporate organizations to lend their support to this worthy initiative. The emblem launch today is meant to appeal to all Nigerians to generously support of the Nigerian Legion. One of the ways we can appreciate the sacrifices of our fallen heroes and veterans is by making generous donations.”
“Further to this, after the emblem launch, I encourage all Nigerians to procure and wear the emblem with pride throughout the remembrance period. This would show that we appreciate the sacrifices of our fallen heroes and veterans and also assure those still serving that their services to the fatherland will never be forgotten.
“I urge and encourage all our distinguished guests to purchase copies of the emblem for their wives, husbands, children, relatives and friends. In future it would be a requirement for all our staff and visitors to wear the emblem to gain access into government establishments.”
Besides, Buhari said the Federal Government would continue to show commitment to addressing the challenges facing Veterans. To this end, he said the FG recently implemented an increment in their pensions. He also noted that the Military Pensions Scheme was running efficiently even as verification exercise for ex-service men and women was successfully conducted recently.
“The Ministry of Defence has been charged to come up with programmes that would enhance the living standards of the veterans. I appreciate the efforts of the State Governors who are Patrons of the Legion in their respective States for promoting the Legion. I urge them to continue to lend their support and give concessions to the Veterans.
Brig- Gen. Mohammed Mansur Dan Ali, (rtd) the Defence Minister, in his remarks appealed special privileges be given to ex-service men in public places and corporate organisations as it is done in other societies.
He described the event as a unique one coming at a time when the nation is committing much to the anti-terrorism war. Dan-Ali noted that terrorism had tasked the resourcefulness of men of the nation’s armed forces with many lives lost and many others injured.
He said since those who gave their lives for the nation have families, Nigerians owe them and their families love and care.
While asking Nigerians to donate generously to the project, the minister also requested that wearing of emblem should be made mandatory to gain access into government offices. “We also look forward to when special treatments will be meted out to veterans by corporate organisations as being done worldwide ” the minister added.
The Chairman, Nigerian Legion, Col. Micah Gayya (retd.), later decorated Buhari; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; former Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; and Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, with the redesigned emblems.
He also decorated all the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase as well as the Minister of Defence. Others ministers were told that they would be decorated in their various offices.
Others who attended the launch included members of the National Assembly, members of diplomatic corps, captains of industries and top government officials among others.
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