President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Sunday in Abuja led government officials and service chiefs to lay wreaths in honour of Nigerian soldiers who died in active service.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that apart from the wreaths laying ceremony, the President used the opportunity to make video conference calls to Nigerian troops in the battle fields in Sambisa Forest, Yola in Adamawa and to those serving in UN Peace Mission in Liberia.
The President, who first spoke to the Nigerian troops fighting the Boko Haram insurgents in Sambisa Forest in Borno, saluted their courage and urged them to continue to maintain discipline and efficiency they were known for.
He said “your success was received spontaneously by all Nigerians. I congratulate you and I thank you very much for the honour you have done to the country and to us, well done. I wish your families are all well and are getting in touch with you.
“Please maintain the standard of discipline and efficiency. Thank you very much indeed.’’
Also addressing members of the Nigerian battalion serving with the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Liberia, President Buhari, who congratulated the soldiers, wished them a successful mission abroad.
The President, who commended members of the armed forces serving with the UN
across the world, said the Federal Government was monitoring their performance.
He prayed for their successful operations while in Liberia, and also wished them safe journey back to Nigeria in 2018.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Nigerian troops in Liberia will be the last batch of UN Peacekeeping Mission in that country as UN peace mission in Liberia would end in 2018.
President Buhari also spoke via the video conference gadgets with the Commander of the Air Force Base in Yola, Charles Owoh, who is also the Air Commander, Operation, Lafiya Dole.
The president lauded the performance of the Air Force in the ongoing fight against insurgency in the North East.
He said: “I get regular briefing from your Chief of Air Staff. Your performance speaks for itself and you have raised the morale of your colleagues in the military, especially the army.
“With your hi-tech performance and platforms, we have been able to restore the sanity and the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
“I am very pleased with the initiative that you have taken in maintenance of equipment. It is very encouraging and a boost to our morale here. I congratulate you and please pass my message to your families that we are very cautious of their patience and anxiety whenever you are in the field. Thank you very much indeed.
Other dignitaries who performed the wreaths laying ceremony at the event include Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, acting Chief Judge of the Federation and Justice Walter Samuel Onoghen.
Others are the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, service chiefs, Chairman of the Nigerian Legion, Mikah Gaya, members of the diplomatic corps and other prominent citizens.
Special prayers were also offered in honour of the fallen heroes.
At the 2017 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration held at the Remembrance Arcade at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos restated the state government’s commitment to the welfare of members of the Nigerian Legion.
Already, he said, N5 million had been provided by the administration to support the families of the fallen heroes and the Nigerian Legion.
The Armed Forces Remembrance Day is an annual event held every January 15 in honour of fallen heroes who lost their lives during the Nigerian civil war and the first and second world wars.
The 9 Brigrade commander, Sani Mohammed, while speaking with journalists, said the remembrance day was in remembrance of the fallen heroes — soldiers who lost their lives in serving the nation particularly in war time.
Also speaking, the State Commandant of the Nigerian Legion, Samuel Akande, expressed satisfaction over the success of the remembrance day, adding that the governor had always contributed to the development of the legion.
“Nigerian Legion is using this opportunity to thank Governor. Ambode for all the provisions and care for the legion.
“He gave us N5 million and also promised two vehicles one of which has been provided,” he said.
Mr. Akande prayed to God to continue to protect the soldiers still in the war front and in service, hoping that peace, stability and economic prosperity would be restored to the country.
The highlight of the celebration was the laying of wreaths by Mr. Ambode, officers and others in honour of the fallen heroes.
As usual, the occasion also witnessed gun salutes and release of pigeons and balloons to signify peace and freedom while prayers were also offered for the families of the fallen heroes, the Nigerian Armed Forces, Service Commanders and the country.
Present at the occasion were top military brass, the State Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, among others.
In Cross River State, retired soldiers appealed to the Federal Government to harmonise their pensions with salaries of serving army personnel.
Timothy Ushie, the Chairman of Nigerian Legion in Cross River, made the appeal on Sunday during the 2017 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in Calabar.
Mr. Ushie, a retired colonel, who also appealed for timely payment of the ex-soldiers’ pensions, said that harmonising the pension with salaries of serving officers would address some grievances of the retired soldiers.
According to him, the Military Pension Board saddled with the responsibility of paying pensions of retired personnel has so far been transparent.
He added that “today, pensions are being paid promptly even though we still have some delays sometimes; but the system has been fair.
“I must commend the Board for doing a good job. But, we are appealing to the Federal Government to harmonise our pension with salaries of serving officers.”
Bulama Biu, the Commander of 13 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Calabar, said the day was significant because it was to remember fallen heroes who fought and died to sustain the unity of Nigeria.
Mr. Biu said that the Armed Forces would continue to work in harmony with other security agencies with a view to maintaining the nation’s peace and unity.
A retired army corporal, Thomas Okon, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the payment of pension to retired soldiers had improved from what it used to be.
He said “as a retired Nigerian soldier who fought in the civil war, my pension of N28,000 is not big; but I thank God that even with the delay, the money still comes.
“I am appealing to government to look into our plight and review our pension upwards because we fought for the unity of this country.”
Another retired soldier, Paul Abang, appealed to the Federal Government to place premium on the welfare of ex-soldiers, saying some of them depended solely on it for their feeding and other uses.
Highlights of the event were the release of pigeons by the state`s deputy governor, Ivara Esu, the 21 gun salute and the laying of wreath by service chiefs and other dignitaries in the state.