The governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, has urged Nigerians to show compassion and love to the families of soldiers who lost their lives while fighting for the nation.
Mr Emmanuel spoke Tuesday in Uyo during the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration.
“We must reach out to these families and show them that the sacrifices their breadwinners made were not in vain,” said Mr Emmanuel while laying a wreath in remembrance of the fallen soldiers.
The governor, in his speech, recalled how a young, newly married Air Force officer, Perowei Jacob, died on January 2 this year in a helicopter crash, while fighting Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east.
The late officer was a flight lieutenant.
“He was married for just 25 days. I remember looking at the picture of his wedding on the front pages of national newspapers, my heart bled,” the governor said of the death of Mr Jacob.
Mr Jacob’s death, the governor said, illustrates the danger, the sacrifice, and the heroism the officers and men of the Nigerian Armed Forces face daily.
“While we go to sleep daily in the comforts of our homes, our gallant officers of the Armed Forces are in the foxholes, swatting away and dodging bullets, evading exploding bombs. As they speed away to the hot spots, they may be killed in the most horrendous manner.
“Today, on this solemn occasion, we are gathered here to honour the sacrifices of our heroic and gallant soldiers, their spirit of patriotism, the blood, and toil they shed so we may have a nation we can call ours,” he said.
Governor Emmanuel said as Nigeria honours its gallant heroes today, the nation should ponder over certain questions.
“Have the ideals of unity and brotherhood that propelled them to pay the ultimate price been achieved?
“Are we living in a nation where fairness, justice, equity and fair play form the building blocks of our engagements? Are we living in a land where ‘though tongues and tribes may differ, in brotherhood we stand’?
“Have we banished those ancient and primordial animosities that provided the ferment for the wars these heroes paid the ultimate price?
“Have we given the survivors and the families of the dead the reason to be proud of their service to our nation?
“Some of the victims of the January 2, 2019 helicopter crash left behind very young children. What will be the fate of the young children they left behind?
“Will they be left to the vagaries of time because their breadwinner paid the ultimate price so we may live in peace?”
Governor Emmanuel said Nigerians must spare their time, resources and blessings to remember the fallen soldiers always, not just in January of every year, but in their daily activities.
He called on Nigerians to rededicate themselves to the ideals of national unity and peaceful co-existence.
“When our gallant soldiers went to the theatre of war during the First and Second World Wars in far-flung places like Burma, or Myanmar, when they were in Katanga Province in the Congo during that nation’s turbulent years, when he was killed at various hot spots during the Nigerian Civil War or in Liberia, they were not labelled PDP or APC, neither were they defined as Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba or Igbos, Ibibios, Annangs or Oros; they were not called to the parade grounds based on their States of origin, they were all Nigerians joined together by patriotic fervour ad a passion to serve.
“We must honour their memory by doing all we can to negate those issues and tendencies that had led us to war in the first instance. As we prepare for the elections, let us allow the will of the people to stand, let us resist the temptation to create tensions in the land just to satisfy the inordinate ambitions of certain individuals,” the governor said.