In Nigeria, Armed Forces Day,
also known as Remembrance Day,
is celebrated on January 15. It was
formerly marked on November 11
of every year to coincide with the
Remembrance Day (Poppy Day) for
the World War II veterans in the British
Commonwealth of Nations. But it
was changed to January 15 of every
year in Nigeria in commemoration of
the surrender of Biafran troops to the
Federal troops on January 15, 1970 thus
signalling the end of the Nigerian Civil
War.
The day is marked with a
Remembrance Day parade at the
Cenotaph in Abuja and in the 36 state
capitals. The ceremony includes 21
gun salute, playing of the Last Post, a
minute’s silence, laying of wreaths and
release of pigeons to symbolise peace.
In the past month armed forces
remembrance day emblems have been
on sale across the country. Proceeds of
the sale of the remembrance emblem go
to the Nigerian Legion.
The Nigerian Legion is the Nigerian
association of ex-servicemen, i.e former
members of the Nigerian Army, Navy
and Air Force.
Officers and men of the armed forces
are trained to fight and kill. When they
retire, they discover that there are no
jobs for them (some of them have been
in the armed forces since they were
teenagers and military work is all they
know). Others were forced to retire
from the armed forces due to injuries
sustained in battle. The Legion helps
them to integrate into society and take
care of themselves.
By law the Legion is permitted to
operate certain businesses in order to
raise money for its members. Members
of the legion also serve as security
guards at government establishments
(you often see them in their brown
uniforms). The Legion also raises money
through the sale of Armed Forces and
Remembrance Day emblems.
In recent years (especially since the
return to civilian rule) members of
the Legion have gone through great
hardship while trying to collect their
pensions and gratuity. Sometimes their
pensions are not paid for many months.
At other times, legionnaires, who could
be as old as 60, 70, or 80 years old are
made to travel long distances and
queue in the hot sun, all in the name
of pension verification exercise. Many
legionnaires have died during this process.
On Monday, the Day was once again
marked across the country with the
laying of wreaths in honour of the fallen
heroes and the release of white pigeons
by President Muhammadu Buhari,
his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo and state
governors.
The Nigerian Army was not not left
out as the Chief of Army Staff, Buratai
handed over hundreds of repentant
Boko Haram members to Borno state
governor for reintegration into the
normal society.
Below reflects how the Day was
marked across the country…
. Buhari, Osinbajo, others honour
fallen heroes
President Muhammadu Buhari
and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo
yesterday led Service chiefs, other
to p government functionaries and
members of the diplomatic corps to
lay wreaths in honour of those died in
service in Nigeria and at international
assignments.
The ceremony, which is an annual
event, was to mark the climax of
activities of the 2018 Armed Forces
Remembrance Day celebration started
about 10am yesterday.
The ceremony which holds on
January 15 of every year at the National
Memorial Arcade in Abuja, is also
dedicated to appreciating surviving
military men who have retired from
active service.
The wreath-laying ceremony came
after over a month that the 2018 Armed
Forces Remembrance Day emblem
and Appeal Fund was inaugurated by
President Buhari in the Presidential
Villa, Abuja.
President Buhari, who arrived the
venue of the event wearing a white
traditional attires known as ‘Babanriga’,
in a colourful motorcade made up of
the limousine flanked by horse riders,
inspected the parade of Army, Navy,
Air force, and Nigerian Legion.
The 2018 Armed Forces Remembrance
with Theme “Appreciating the
Contributions of the Armed Forces in
ensuring peace and Security”, started
with Christian and Muslim prayers
offered by Group Capt. Kwashau and
Shehu Mustapha.
The event which featured a parade of
Officers and Men of the Armed Forces
and Nigerian Legion, also witnessed
a `One Minute Silence’ for the fallen
heroes, before the wreath laying
ceremony.
President Buhari laid his wreath
at the tomb of the unknown soldier
with precession, followed by the Vice-
President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who
also laid his wreath.
Others who laid the wreaths included
the Senate President Bukola Saraki,
Speaker of the House of Representatives,
By Okechukwu Jombo and
Kenneth Atavti
and agency reportsYakubu Dogara, and Chief By Golok Nanmwa, Jos
Justice of Nigeria, Justice
Walter Ononghen.
Others were the
Ministers of Defense and
Federal Capital Territory
Abuja while the Chief of
Defence Staff, Gen.Gabriel
Olonisakin led the Service
Chiefs and Inspector
General Police to lay their
wreath.
The last set consisted
of the Chairman of the
Nigerian Legion, Doyen of
Diplomatic Corps, and the
Representative of widows,
Mrs Mary Anecholu who
wore a black gown.
President Buhari later
released some white pigeons
to signify unity and peace
in the country, after which
he signed the Anniversary
register respectively.
. Saraki seeks enhanced
welfare for military, others
President of the Senate,
Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki,
has called on the Federal
Government and military
authorities to prioritize the
welfare of both their serving
and retired personnel,
in view of the enormous
sacrifices they render to
sustain the peace and
security of the country.
Saraki, according
to a statement by his
Special Adviser, Media
and Publicity, Yusuph
Olaniyonu, made the
call after laying a wreath
at the National Arcade
to commemorate the
2018 Armed Forces
Remembrance Day, led by
President Muhammadu
Buhari.
He lauded the national
attention being accorded
the nation’s armed forces
through the annual
celebration of the Armed
Forces Remembrance Day,
and said it is time to do more
for members of of the armed
forces still serving and those
who have retired, while not
neglecting the families of
the fallen heroes.
Saraki said: “I must
commend the Federal
Government for its
commitment to ensure that
the nation’s armed forces
are fully catered for in terms
of operational logistics
and welfare packages. But there is room for more when you consider
that these are men who have given their all
and continue to give their all for the security,
stability and prosperity of the country.
“While serving members of the armed
forces must be made to feel that their effort
at protecting the territorial integrity of the
country and assisting in the maintenance of
law and order internally – often at the risk of
their very lives – is not in vain, the welfare of
the immediate families of all our fallen heroes
must be given due consideration,” he stated.
While commending the leadership and
members of the Nigerian armed forces for
their continuous support to civil authorities in
ensuring the safety of lives and property in all
parts of the country, he called on them not to
relent in restoring peace to all troubled parts
of the country.
He pledged that the National Assembly will
continue to ensure that all bills relating to the
armed forces’ operation and welfare are given
accelerated consideration and passage from
time to time.

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