How 725 Military Retirees Were Reintegrated into Civil Life at NAFRC

The Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, NAFRC, which is saddled with the task of integrating military retirees into civil life, recently churned out 725 graduands. Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that the Passing out Ceremony of Course 01/2024 Trainees was quite nostalgic but also a vista of hope for all the retirees  given that for six months, they were trained on post-service life with various vocational skills to sustain their entrepreneurial journey

For the 725 recent graduates of the the Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre (NAFRC), a centre established for military retirees to transition into civil life, the journey started about 35 years ago when they joined the military where they went through series of military trainings to ensure they turn out to be professional soldiers in their various units and fields. 

Throughout those 35 years, they recited the soldiers creed, and were solely dedicated to the actualisation  of the Armed Forces core responsibilities. However, after those 35 years, it was time to reformat their thinking process back to the civilian life they were used to before their sojourn into military life. 

To ensure a smooth and seamless transition back to civil life, NAFRC was borne. At the centre located at Oshodi, Lagos, the retirees underwent six months training and re-training to ease their transition. They are also equipped with relevant civilian skills that would ensure they are kept busy. 

Seamless Integration 

Drawn from the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), the Nigerian Army (NA) and the Nigerian Navy (NN), with 26, 500 and 165 retirees, respectively, they underwent training in management, fashion, fine arts and printing, soap and cosmetics making, domestic products, agricultural training, woodwork, building and civil works, electrical and electronics, auto mechanics, fabrication and welding, music, food and beverages and information technology. 

At the Passing out Ceremony of the Course 01/2024 Trainees of the Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre (NAFRC), held at Danjuma Hall, it was a new vista for the soldiers turned civilians. 

After years of meritorious service to the nation and months of training to enable them to integrate seamlessly to civilian life after the end of the six months intensive pre-retirement for the men and women of our Armed Forces, they returned to civil life. 

A Nation’s Gratitude 

The Special Guest of Honour was the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ikechukwu Ogalla, who expressed his gratitude to the retirees, adding that the nation was grateful for their service and sacrifice. 

According to the chief, NAFRC has a mandate to adequately prepare retiring personnel of the Armed Forces, allied Forces and staff of paramilitary agencies, to re-integrating into civil life, adding that “the centre is achieving this objective through diverse vocational skills to maximize potentials of personnel for self-reliance as you all have experienced in the last five months. 

“The skills you have acquired in the Centre is germane to entrepreneurship and I urge you to put the skills into proper use. As entrepreneurs, you will require attributes such as determination, diligence, optimism as well as honesty, imbibed in the course of your career and the training in this centre to succeed. 

“As you integrate into civil life, your conduct also must be in accordance with ethics, professional standards and respect for the rule of law. You will be judged  by these virtues as retired military personnel as well as ambassadors of the Armed Forces and this Prestigious centre. 

“This present administration under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR, has amongst others, prioritized the welfare of persons who have  diligently served the Armed Forces. The President has approved the implementation of 20 per cent increase in pension rates for pensioners with effect from January this year.

“This and others packages including those initiated by various Services is to appreciate your sacrifices and  service to the nation. On this note, may I seize this opportunity to appreciate the President, Commander-in-Chief for his guidance and unwavering support to the Service as well as for enhancing the welfare package of those who have served our country diligently. 

“We remain grateful and will continue to carry out our statutory mandate for national economic prosperity and poverty eradication in line with your Renewed 

Hope Agenda. To our disengaging personnel, I urge you to be good ambassadors and conduct yourself in a manner that will not bring disrepute to the Armed Forces or your distinguished career records.

“You must also influence your community positively and also be loyal to the nation and President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. I commend you all again for your sacrifice and courage to serve your fatherland and  also congratulate you for successful completion of this course.”

While commending the NAFRC Commandant, officers and staff of the Centre for ensuring that the disengaging personnel are prepared to integrate seamlessly into civil  life, he further urged them to sustain the laudable efforts.

Earlier in his speech, NAFRC Commandant, Air Vice Marshal Adeniyi Amesinlola, said the event was “worthy of celebration and fulfilment for these senior citizens and their family members as they pass out of the Centre and as most of them would be retiring from the Armed Forces from here. 

“The graduands exhibited discipline and keen interest throughout their 6-months vocational training. In line with the mandate of NAFRC, the centre impacts theoretical and practical knowledge to retiring personnel in vocations of their choice to aid their re-integration to civil life. 

“Suffice to state that the realization of the Centre’s mandate has been successful. So far, over 51,000 personnel of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, para-military agencies and allied armed forces have been trained by this Centre.

“Similarly, over 3,600 youths and widows have undergone various vocational training at NAFRC as part of the Centre’s Corporate Social Responsibility. The training equips beneficiaries with skills to start and manage businesses and vocations towards self- sustenance.

“This, in tum, contributes to personnel morale and to the Federal Government’s committed drive to increase Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises across the Country. The personnel and civilians trained by the Centre have been contributing meaningfully to their various communities, thus preventing them from becoming liability to the society or resorting to crimes and other vices.”

While thanking President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the commandant also expressed gratitude to the Minister of Defence, the Honourable Minister of State for Defence, the Senate and House Committees on Defence, the Chief of Defence Staff and the Service Chiefs for their guidance and support to the Centre. 

Gathering of Eagles 

To show the retirees that their sacrifices were in no small measure appreciated, it was a gathering of eagles including senior officers at the graduation last Friday at the centre. 

While the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen TA Lagbaja, was represented by the General Officer Commanding 81 Division. Major General Muhammad Usman;  the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal HB Abubakar, was represented by Air Officer Commanding, Logistics Command, Air Vice Marshal Abubakar Abdullahi. 

Also present were the Chief of Defence Training and Operations and other Principal Staff Officers from Defence and other Services Headquarters; Flag Officers Commanding, Western Naval Command and Naval Doctrine Command, Rear Admiral Mustapha Hassan and Rear Admiral Zakaria, respectively.

Others include Corps Commanders of Signals and Nigerian Army Ordinance Depot, Commandants and other Commanders of Military and Para- military institutions, units and agencies; Admiral Superintendent Naval Ordnance Depot, Rear Admiral Livingstone Izu; Admiral Superintendent Naval Dockyard Ltd, Rear Admiral Bolaji Orederu; and Hydrographer of the Navy, Rear Admiral Ayo Olugbode.

Also in attendance were NAFRC Deputy Commandant and Director; President, Retired Army, Navy, Air Force Officers Association; NAFRC past Commandants;  Commissioner of Agriculture, Lagos State; Executive Chairman, Mushin Local Government Area 16; and Founder and Director, Songhai Regional Centre.

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