This morning, the nation will stand still in honour of its fallen heroes and heroines who had and are still laying their lives as sacrifice towards the security, well being and territorial integrity of Nigeria.
Known as the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, it is an annual event to honour members of the Nigerian Armed Forces who fought in various wars, including the World Wars as well as those who served or are still serving in various peace support operations worldwide. And that is not forgetting our men and women who fought in the Nigerian civil war. A significant pillar of the Day is the celebration of not just the dead heroes, but the living.
Ahead of today’s event, President Muhammadu Buhari launched the Armed Forces Remembrance Day emblem last November 15, appealing to all Nigerians to demonstrate their collective appreciations to the selfless sacrifices made by veterans of the Nigerian Armed Forces by donating generously for their up- keep and the families of the fallen heroes. At that Aso Villa event, the President underscored the importance of today’s celebration with a donation of N10 million on behalf of the federal government to the coffers of the Nigerian Legion even as he called on good spirited individuals and corporate organisations to give war veterans the opportunity to make a decent living out of their retirement lives.
We cannot agree less with the President. If for nothing else, today’s occasion must serve as a reminder of the need for compatriots to appreciate the noble contributions of the fallen heroes who paid the supreme price to maintain national and international peace and security. Also, that their efforts have ensured the continued indivisibility of the country despite several grievous challenges, including the ongoing efforts against insurgency underpin the foregoing fact.
On this note, we recall that since independence, Nigeria has witnessed a lot of internal strife, survived a civil war and has remained united. We further note that the feat achieved by the country is an eloquent testimony to the determination of fellow Nigerians to remain as one people.
Accordingly, the theme for this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day which is “Motivating the Nigerian Armed Forces for Effective Service Delivery” is apt, especially against the backdrop of the fact that the nation is passing through trying times.
With the several events that will highpoint today’s occasion including the scheduled release of pigeons to symbolise peace, laying of wreaths at the Abuja cenotaph, playing of the last post, Remembrance Day parade, shooting of guns and others that characterize this memorable day, there is no gainsaying that honour would be given to our heroes past and present.
But we are quick to add that beyond all the ceremony today, the welfare of our war veterans and indeed all the heroes must be taken as top priority by government and all concerned. It is time to do away with the regime of very poor pension administration for our retired military personnel. The same goes for members of other Forces who have paid relevant sacrifice to take the nation to where we are today.
If indeed we value their sacrifices which many of them are still making till date, it is time for their welfare to be given priority attention. This way, history will record the nation and its leaders as not allowing the labour of our heroes past and present go in vain.