By Davidson Iriekpen
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri and Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, yesterday called for better funding and equipping of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Wike charged the federal government to treat the Nigerian armed forces who are playing a significant part in ensuring that the civil populace enjoys a peaceful country, coupled with their commitment to safeguarding the sovereignty of the country better.
He stated this at the inter-denominational church service in Port Harcourt to mark the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration.
A Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, in a statement quoted Wike as saying that an annual remembrance day celebration for the armed forces was not enough to cater for soldiers who suffered injuries or paid the ultimate price while defending the country.
Wike, however, advocated for special recognition for the fallen heroes as well as soldiers still diligently fighting bandits and insurgents in some parts of the country.
Wike said, “It is not easy when people would say for the sake of this country, we are willing to make sacrifices. They laid down their lives to protect us. While some of us will be sleeping, they are busy, fighting to defend the country, the sovereignty of this country.
“In the course of doing that, so many died, some get injured to the point they can’t be useful to themselves again all their life. You know how painful it is that a man goes to work with the hope that he’s coming back home, but the children are later told that they have lost their dad because he went to protect the country.
“So, we must have a special recognition for our fallen heroes and to those who are still in the Armed Forces fighting. See what is going on in Borno and Yobe states and all over the country; banditry, insurgencies.
“So, for us, we think that the government should come up with something concrete that when they go out and fight, their families will know that there is something their parents have kept that will cater for their children.”
Also, Diri said this would serve as motivation for the military in the bid to end insurgency and insecurity in the country.
He stated this during the interdenominational service to mark the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day at the King of Glory Chapel, Government House, Yenagoa.
His Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, in a press release, quoted the governor as saying that January 15 was set aside in Nigeria to remember fallen heroes of the First and Second World War as well as the Nigeria Civil War.
He noted that the society needs to also do enough in respecting the lives of every security personnel just as they honour the memories of fallen soldiers.
His words: “The federal government is spending so much but we believe that they can still spend more in terms of equipment and better welfare for the personnel.
“I also want the federal government to look into the issue of insecurity in this country and accord it the necessary importance that it deserves.
“For me, it is a day to call upon the federal and state governments to look again at what we do and ensure that as leaders our watchword should be that of justice and equity.
“Much of the insurrection, the violence and the conflicts in Nigeria today are avoidable if only we respect justice and equity.”
He saluted ex-servicemen that had gone through horrible experiences and thanked God for keeping them alive to witness another Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
The governor said their sacrifice and service to the nation, which include paying the supreme price, would not be in vain as his government would always recognise and celebrate them.
In his sermon, Chaplain of the King of Glory Chapel, Pastor David Yala, admonished personnel of the Armed Forces to realise that their mission is not for self-recognition but that of service to become a sacrificial citizen of the nation.
On his part, Uzodimma commended the armed forces for rising up to the global challenges of insecurity and for defending our territory.
He gave the commendation in his remarks at the end of the Interdenominational Church Service to mark the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration held at the Government House Chapel, Owerri Imo State.
The Imo governor said reports indicated that in the North-east, Nigerian soldiers are now winning the war “because the numbers of casualties are going down and the militants are being driven away.”
He also commended the wives of the fallen heroes for their resilience, hard work, enterprise and ability to manage their homes irrespective of the fact that the heads of the families lost their lives in the defense of their fatherland.
Governor Uzodimma who emphasised the need to run to God at times like this, enjoined all Imo people in particular and Nigerians in general, to take all their problems to God. He also urged us to ask God Almighty to give us courage to “face our challenges and forgive our shortcomings and make Nigeria to be more united and meaningful place for all to line.”
In his Homily at the service, Brig. Gen. Charles Iroegbu (rtd), had commended the Armed Forces for the efforts in the past and present towards the defence of our fatherland. He admonished them to live a life of contentment and prayed that their good works shall not be in vain.
Rev. Fr. Iroegbu acknowledged the improvement in the road infrastructure of the State under the leadership of Governor Uzodimma and encouraged him not to be deterred in his efforts to reposition Imo State.
The service was attended by members of the Armed Forces in the state, both serving and retired, senior government officials, including the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku and widows of fallen heroes.