President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday in Abuja appealed to Nigerians to desist from actions and comments that could jeopardise the unity and progress of the nation.
Launching the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day (AFRD) Emblem and Appeal Fund, Buhari said this year’s occasion reminds Nigerians of the need to guard jealously the unity of the nation which was won at great cost.
The President, who stressed that ‘‘Nigeria’s strength lies in her diversity’’, honoured the memory of the nation’s fallen heroes and veterans, recounting their sacrifices during the First and Second World Wars, the Nigerian Civil War and Peace Support Operations around the world.
Buhari also paid tribute to men and women currently engaged in internal security operations, particularly the ongoing fight against insurgency, terrorism and armed banditry in some parts of the country, praising them for remaining steadfast in the difficult task of restoring peace and security despite the coronavirus pandemic.
”We honour the memory of our gallant officers and men who have paid the supreme sacrifice in order to keep the country united as one entity,” he said.
”The nation remains grateful for the efforts and sacrifice of the Armed Forces especially in the fight against insurgency and other internal security challenges confronting Nigeria.
”The Armed Forces Remembrance Day or Veterans Day as it is known in some parts of the world is an important event observed in commemoration of the end of the Second World War.
”In Commonwealth member countries, the Remembrance Day is observed on 11th November yearly. However, for us the date was changed to 15th January annually to accommodate the commemoration of the end of the Nigerian Civil War.”
On security operations in the North West and North Central zones in the country, Buhari expressed delight at the return of normalcy in some of the areas that previously witnessed security challenges.
”Our dear nation has witnessed numerous security challenges since independence,” he stated.
”These security threats have undermined Nigeria in the areas of trade, investment and economy, education, health as well as agriculture and frequently denied Nigerians the freedom of movement.
”I am however pleased to state that a lot has been achieved in the Internal Security operations in the North West and North Central zones where in addition to Operations LAFIYA DOLE, HADARIN DAJI, HARBIN KUNAMA, WHIRL STROKE, other operations such as ACCORD, SAHEL SANITY and KATSINA were successfully launched.
”This has led to the return of normalcy in some of the affected areas. However, all hands must be on deck to check attacks on soft targets.”
On support for families of members of the Armed Forces who died in active service, the President acknowledged that “the unfortunate cost of the fight against insurgency and other internal security challenges was the unavoidable loss of lives of some gallant compatriots” according to a statement by his spokesman, Femi Adesina.
”The reality is that the spouses and defendants of these bread-winners in most cases experience trauma and deprivation. However, we can be of support to them to lighten their burdens especially in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
”I therefore call on all to spare a thought for them and take positive steps to come to their aid,” Buhari was quoted to have said, commending charity organisations engaged in the noble cause of bringing succour to the families of fallen heroes and veterans.
The President announced a donation of N10 million to the Nigerian Legion.
In his address of welcome, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (Rtd) called on members of the civil society, religious and political leaders, the academia as well as the media to educate and enlighten Nigerians on the need to recognize and appreciate the sacrifices of gallant compatriots in uniform.
He also encouraged Nigerians to procure and wear the emblem to boost the morale of serving personnel.
In his remarks, the Chairman Nigerian Legion, Brigadier General Adakole Jones Akpa (Rtd), thanked Buhari for “his unrelenting support to the ex-servicemen, particularly in ensuring the prompt payment of pensions.”
Akpa, who also recognised the presence and support of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, members of the Diplomatic Corps and the Service Chiefs, to the Nigerian Legion, said despite the challenges facing the country:
”God is with Nigeria. We should sing the Nigerian song as nobody will sing it for us. ”
During the emblem launch ceremony, the Chairman Nigerian Legion decorated Buhari and Osinbajo with the 2021 AFRD emblem.