The 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day was marked yesterday in Abuja with President Muhammadu Buhari presiding.
Also to commemorate the day, some governors, including Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, Aminu Masari of Katsina State, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, as well as former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and former President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, have called for peace and improved security across the country.
As the country continues to tackle security challenges ahead of the 2023 general election, the 36 state governors and the governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will hold separate meetings this week on the state of the nation.
This is coming as the All Progressives Congress (APC) has admitted that the country’s security challenges are daunting, stressing however that Buhari’s administration will overcome the prevailing security situation soon.
On its part, the main opposition, the PDP, saluted members of the Armed Forces for their courage, loyalty, sacrifice and resilience in defending the country.
Activities to commemorate the Armed Forces Remembrance Day had commenced on October 28, 2021, when the president launched the remembrance emblem at the State House, Abuja.
During yesterday’s ceremony, which took place at the National Arcade, opposite the Eagle Square in the Three Arms Zone, Buhari inspected a Guard of Honour mounted by detachments of the Nigerian Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Nigerian Legion.
Prayers were said by Christian and Muslim clerics for the peaceful repose of the souls of the dead and the health of the nation.
Buhari laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a mark of last respect to the fallen heroes who paid the supreme price to keep global peace and the nation’s territorial integrity.
Top officials who also laid wreaths include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan; Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello represented by the Minister of State, Ramatu Aliyu, and his Defence counterpart, Major-General Bashir Magashi (rtd).
Others are the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, Service Chiefs, the Nigerian Legion, among others.
Twenty-one gun salutes were thereafter fired at the event followed by the signing of the Remembrance Day anniversary register by the president accompanied by the Senate President, House of Representatives Speaker, Chief Justice of the Federation, military chiefs and other top government officials.
President Buhari thereafter released white pigeons to indicate the harmony at the venue and the nation.
The president, who arrived at the venue at about 10.05 a.m. in a Black Limousine, was ushered into the arena by the Guards Parade led by Major M A Toriola.
On hand to receive President Buhari was the Commander of the Guards Brigade, Major-General Apiti Usman alongside Vice President Osinbajo, Senate President, Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gbajabiamila; Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Muhammad; Chief of Defence Staff, General Irabor; service chiefs and Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba.
Govs Seek Peace, Improved Security, to Meet on State of Nation
Meanwhile, some governors who spoke at the occasion of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day in their respective states have called for improved security in the country.
Addressing journalists after laying a wreath to commemorate this year’s event in Benin City, Edo State Governor, Obaseki, urged Nigerians not to take the country’s unity, which was achieved on the blood of the nation’s fallen heroes, for granted.
Obaseki promised that the government would integrate family members of the fallen heroes in the social empowerment schemes being implemented in the state.
“The unity of this country has been achieved on the blood of our fallen heroes and it is not something that we should take for granted or we should joke with. People are still sacrificing in the various arenas and battles in the country today and we shouldn’t take it lightly,” he said.
“We are here today to remember the gallant Nigerian soldiers and members of the armed forces who lost their lives in the cause of defending our country. We are here today because people gave up their lives and have done so through the years. We should stop making unguided utterances about the unity of this country.
“People must understand that such careless talks caused the loss of lives and we should not lead ourselves where history will repeat itself in this country.”
On his part, Bayelsa State Governor, Diri, called on politicians to avoid actions that would lead to bloodletting in the 2023 elections.
Diri who made the call at the Peace Park in Yenagoa said the outcome of elections should be determined by the ballot box and not the strength of the gun.
He added that the ultimate power to enthrone leadership lies in the hands of God.
The governor recalled the bloodletting that characterised the 2019 governorship campaigns in the Nembe community and cautioned that all political players should vow never to allow the killing of youths in the state because of elections despite their ambitions.
Similarly, Rivers State Governor, Wike has urged Buhari to stop the incessant killing of Nigerians by Boko Haram groups and bandits.
The governor said the president should redouble efforts in fulfilling his cardinal electoral promise of securing the country.
Wike made the call at the venue of the occasion held at the Isaac Adaka Boro Park, Port Harcourt.
He argued that Nigeria is at the crossroads with everyone weary about the prolonged Boko Haram insurgency in parts of the country.
“We acknowledge that some progress has been made in the fight against the insurgents.
“However, the generality of Nigerians believes that the progress made cannot be good enough in so far as Boko Haram, its affiliates and the bandits are still active in the North-east, North-west and some other parts of the country killing, maiming and kidnapping helpless people, including school children, and destroying and displacing hapless communities.
“We, therefore, call on Mr President to redouble his efforts and fulfil his cardinal electoral promise to secure the country and ensure that Nigerians feel safe and remain safe and secure wherever they are in their own country,” Wike explained.
Also speaking yesterday at this year Armed Forces Remembrance Day held at the Cenotaph, Uyo, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State stressed that those things that may heat upon the polity and strain the cords of unity must be avoided.
“We cannot afford another national conflict; we cannot afford to send our youths to fight over issues that could have been addressed peacefully in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust,” he stated.
Also addressing journalists on the occasion held at the Arcade Ground of the Governor’s Office, Abeokuta, Ogun State Governor, Abiodun called on Nigerians to continue to ensure oneness and unity of the country, saying only one and the indivisible nation would ensure peace, progress and development.
He also called on the governments and well-meaning Nigerians to see to the welfare of the children and spouses left behind by the heroes who fought for the territorial integrity and unity of the nation.
“This country must remain a one and indivisible country; these are ways we can continue to ensure that the labours of these young men and women are not in vain,” he stated.
Masari, who spoke in Katsina, said the relative peace being enjoyed in the state was as a result of the untiring sacrifice of the Nigerian soldiers towards securing the lives and properties of the citizens in the state.
He further attributed the gradual returns of peace in the state to the dedication, professional competence, and discipline of the troops and other security agencies, whom he said, sacrificed their lives for peace and unity to thrive in the state.
Masari said: “It is also in recognition of these efforts that, I extend my profound appreciation on behalf of the government and people of Katsina State to the Commanders, officers, soldiers and airmen of 17 Brigade, Nigerian Army and 213 Nigerian Air Force Forward Operating Base for their untiring sacrifice towards securing lives and properties of the citizens of Katsina.”
The governor explained that the supreme sacrifice that some of the falling heroes paid towards securing the lives and properties of the citizens will never be forgotten and prayed for their souls to have eternal rest.
Kano State Governor, Ganduje, called on the Armed Forces to rise to the challenges of insecurity in the country and rid the nation of criminals.
He explained that with the regard given to the past heroes, the security operatives in Nigeria should take their responsibility diligently.
“There is no doubt this is a day we should be remembering every year. I congratulate the organisers for organising the event for the last seven days and everything is concluded today.”
The governor explained that “The importance of this day is to remember those who fought the Nigerian civil war to keep Nigeria one.
“There is no doubt we are benefitting from what they did in the past and therefore it is worthwhile to remember them.”
Govs Meet on State of the Nation
In a related development, two crucial meetings have been slated by the governors this week. The first meeting is the meeting of the PDP governors expected to take place in Port Harcourt on Monday.
The second meeting is the meeting of all the 36 state governors scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the state of the nation.
Head of Media and Public Affairs of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Mr Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, said in a statement yesterday that the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi has invited the 36 governors to a very crucial meeting where pressing national concerns will be discussed.
However, the details of the meeting were not disclosed.
The meeting is scheduled to take place Wednesday, January 19, 2022.
The statement disclosed that an invitation issued by the Director-General of the forum, Mr Asishana Bayo Okauru, at the weekend and sent to all the respective governors, said the meeting, which would be the first in 2022 would be an in-person meeting as opposed to the regular virtual ones, to effectively convey the messages of the meeting which are all characterised under item 2 of the agenda titled matters arising.
According to Bello Bankindo, “the meeting which will commence at 8 p.m. will be at the NGF Secretariat in Abuja, where the NGF Chairman will thereafter, accompanied by all the 36 Governors, address a press conference.
Also, another meeting of the governors elected on the platform of the PDP is scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt where the party governors are expected to attend.
The meeting, which is the first in the year, would be attended by the National Chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu and the National Secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu.
Atiku Hails Veterans, Says Nigeria Owes Them Debt of Gratitude
As the nation commemorates this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has said Nigeria’s military veterans cannot be repaid for their supreme sacrifices, adding that their welfare should be treated as a priority by any government.
He said that laying down one’s life in the defence of your country and fellow citizens is the highest sacrifice for the sake of patriotism.
“Soldiers lose life and limb in the course of serving their country,” adding that “Nigeria owes them a debt of eternal gratitude for their immeasurable sacrifices.”
The former vice president advised the people in government to always give priority to the payment of the pensions and other entitlements of our military veterans as at when due.
Saraki Tasks Next Administration on Insecurity
In his solidarity message on the occasion, former President of the Senate, Saraki, stated that Nigeria’s next government must revisit all reports of the various security summits and other such recommendations and harmonise them to quickly end the security crisis across the country.
Head of the Abubakar Bukola Saraki Media Office, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, quoted Saraki as saying in a statement yesterday that the implementation of the recommendations requires strong political will and transparency to ensure immediate success.
Saraki also commended the courage and patriotism of the members of the various security agencies who have continued to fight against enemies of the country within and outside while also seeking better motivation for them and their families while they are in service and after retirement.
“We already have enough recommendations from the various summits, dialogues, and special sessions on security organised by the executive, legislature, non-governmental organisations, and development partners. All a new government should do is harness the recommendations and demonstrate the strong will, determination, and urgency in translating them into operation,” Saraki said.
Nigeria Security Challenges Daunting, Says APC
Meanwhile, the ruling APC has admitted that the country’s security challenges are daunting, but promised that the Buhari’s administration would soon overcome the challenges.
The National Secretary of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator John Akpanudoedehe stated this in a statement issued yesterday to commemorate 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day
He commended the military for the focus, zeal and dedication displayed toward performing their constitutional roles.
“Our security challenges may seem daunting, but we assure Nigerians that the President Muhammadu Buhari government will overcome the prevailing insecurity situation soon,” he said.
He said undoubtedly, Nigeria’s Armed Forces have transformed to one of the most professional, dedicated and battle-ready outfits in the world, fighting terrorism and emerging crimes that threaten our collective peace and safety.
PDP Demands More Attention to Welfare of Soldiers, Families
On its part, PDP saluted members of the Armed Forces for their courage, loyalty, sacrifice and resilience in defending our dear nation, particularly in the face of resurged insecurity in the last six years.
The party said in a statement its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Debo Ologunagba, acknowledged the bravery and patriotism of the gallant soldiers in the frontlines, who despite the daunting challenges, daily put their lives on the line, with many paying the supreme price for the unity and security of the country.
The PDP also demanded that the government takes steps to provide the military with adequate equipment as well as improve on the welfare of the troops to ensure effectiveness in their duty to the nation.
It said, “Our Party urges the government to ensure the wellbeing of the families of our fallen heroes who gave their lives for our nation. Their families and loved ones should not be allowed to continue to suffer.”