By Chiemelie Ezeobi  

To ensure a smooth transition into civil life for the retirees of the Armed Forces, the Senate Committee on Defence, yesterday pledged more support for the Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre (NAFRC). 

 The chairman of the committee, Mr. Abubakar Kyari, made this disclosure during an oversight visit to the centre in Oshodi, Lagos. 

According to him, both the committee on defence and  appropriation should be commended because prior to 2017, NAFRC was not getting this kind of support it has now. 

He said, “Whatever they bring forward will be supported because we have seen what they have done. The committee is impressed with the development seen in NAFRC in terms of physical structures.

 “We are collaborators and supporters and whatever legislative backing that they require, they should approach the national assembly for support.”

In his remarks, Kyari further noted that the committee regretted its inability to conduct on-the-spot assessment of the programmes and projects of NAFRC for about 10 years. 

He said, “It is for this reason that this committee resolved to commence 2017 monitoring and evaluation exercise with this centre. 

“I am satisfied that this centre has evolved from the role of rehabilitating and demobilising soldiers of war to that of resettling able-bodied soldiers who are about to leave service.”

Kyari who clarified that the oversight was neither a witch-hunt nor an attempt by parliament to intimidate ministries of government, added that they were not on a fault finding mission. 

He said, “Instead, we are equally committed to the vision of developing a world class training institution capable of repositioning ex-service men to cope with the challenges of re-integrating into civilian life. 

“As the elected representative of the people, it is our mandate to hold government to account by ensuring value for money in public expenditure as well as transparency and openness.

Our visit to NAFRC is aimed at advancing these principles.” 

He restated that the senate committee on defence, and by extension the National Assembly were partners and stakeholders with military establishment. 

He added that the two could achieve more in terms of ensuring peace and safety for Nigerian citizens with greater cooperation and synergy. 

The NAFRC Commandant, Air Vice Marshal Austine Jekennu, during his welcome address, said NAFRC had been a major beneficiary of the ‘Change Agenda’ of the Federal Government. 

He said, “It can be seen that overtime, the centre has evolved from a rehabilitation centre for wounded demobilised soldiers, to a resettlement facility for retiring able bodied servicemen. 

“As we speak, there are plans to once again expand the mandate to include officers and personnel of other para-military organisations  in our curricular.”