The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, yesterday declared that democracy has come to stay in Nigeria, pledging the military’s readiness to give the necessary support to the Nigeria Police and other internal security agencies to ensure a crisis-free general election in the country this year.
Clerics also offered prayers for the fallen heroes and veterans, just as the widow of a fallen soldier, Cynthia Ubah, also called for speedy processing of the life insurance benefits and other entitlements due their grieving families.
Also, as President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday reviewed the last Armed Forces Remembrance Day as his eight-year tenure as President ends on May 29, 2023, state governors, who also spoke in commemoration of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, pledged to continue to give the necessary support to the military.
Speaking after laying the wreath at the National Arcade, Abuja, to mark the celebration, Irabor said: “Be rest assured that the armed forces will remain solidly behind the police to give them all the support as required for the 2023 general election.”
Fielding questions from journalists about the military’s readiness for the forthcoming polls, the CDS said although the police would remain the frontline security outfit during the elections, the armed forces would support it from the rear.
“I’m sure you know that the police are on the lead. I have been discussing with the IG (Inspector-General of Police) and of course, we’ve also made contingencies should we be required to give support to the police as the election is conducted.
“I think for Nigerians, be rest assured that the armed forces remain solidly behind the police to be able to give them all the support as required.”
He also assured Nigerians that the country’s democracy faces no threat from a military coup as witnessed recently in some West African states.
“Democracy has come to stay. Government of the people, by the people and for the people in Nigeria has come to stay. That is an assurance,” he added.
Irabor also described the ceremony as an occasion of gratitude that some Nigerians deemed their country as worth dying for.
He said: “Remembrance Day celebration is not a day of mourning. It is the day that we need to give thanks to God; that men and women of this great nation once served, are serving and will continue to serve this country.
“That we have that level of love for the country that men and women have committed to and, if need be, sacrifice their lives so that the rest of us can be alive. I think it’s a worthy thing.”
The widow of a fallen soldier, Cynthia Ubah, also called for speedy processing of the life insurance benefits and other entitlements due their grieving families.
Cynthia, who is the widow of Nigerian Air Force Squadron Leader Victor Ubah, who was killed in an ambush during a joint operation in Kebbi State on July 7, 2021, stressed that though she received her late husband’s benefits within one month of his demise, other late military personnel’s families have not been so fortunate.
She said: “It has started taking a longer time to compensate the families. Before, it used to take a shorter while. Now, families have to wait, keep waiting and keep calling.
“Mine didn’t take time thankfully. But I have seen others in this situation and they’ve been complaining that it has taken them a very long time. Mine was between a month and two.
“But for some, it’s stretching to nine months to a year now, which is really not good for them. But I believe they (the military) are doing their best. Hopefully they get to settle these people.”
Earlier, President Buhari reviewed the last Armed Forces Remembrance Day as Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces as his eight-year tenure as President ends on May 29, 2023.
He led senior government officials at the wreath-laying ceremony to mark the end of this year’s celebration.
He also inspected the Guards of Honour, accompanied by the Commander, Brigade of Guards, Major General Muhammad Usman, after which he proceeded to the Cenotaph for the wreath-laying Ceremony.
Prayers were offered for the departed and their families by the Director Nigerian Navy Religious Affairs, Commander Robert Oparaji; Director of Islamic Affairs, Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Luqman Abiodun; and acting Director, Chaplain Services, Nigerian Army, Lt. Col. Bilson Newton.
During the prayers for the fallen heroes and veterans, the clerics also prayed for peaceful elections and transition of power as well as a United Nigeria.
Other dignitaries who laid wreaths after the President include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola.
Others included the Ministers of Defence and the Federal Capital Territory, Maj. General Bashir Magashi (rtd) and Muhammed Bello, respectively; Irabor; the service chiefs; as well as the Inspector-General General of Police, Usman Baba; among other top government officials.
Buhari also performed the symbolic freeing of white doves out of the cage during the event.
Meanwhile, in Lagos, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu promised the Nigerian Armed Forces that the state government would continue to give its support to the military, noting their role in the maintenance of the territorial integrity of the nation.
Sanwo-Olu made the pledge during the grand finale of Armed Forces Remembrance Day ceremony held at the Remembrance Arcade, TBS, Lagos.
The governor who was represented by his Deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, said the state government appreciated the efforts of the military and other paramilitary agencies.
He thanked the military for keeping the unity of Nigeria.
In Oyo State, Governor ‘Seyi Makinde, admonished security agencies in the country to remain professional and neutral in the coming elections, saying that politics would go, but the country would remain.
The governor stated this at the grand finale of the 2023 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, held at the Remembrance Arcade, Government House, Agodi, Ibadan.
He promised to keep supporting and working closely with members of the Armed Forces and other security agencies in the state.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the governor equally performed the traditional wreath-laying during the celebration.
In Kano, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, said the Armed Forces Remembrance Day was an important occasion meant to remember the enormous contribution of the fallen heroes who died in the service of the nation.
Ganduje represented by his deputy and APC governorship candidate, Dr. Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna promised to continue to encourage and support both serving and retired members of the Nigerian Armed Forces in their effort to keep and secure the territorial integrity of the country.
Similarly, in Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki, urged Nigerians to actively commit to the promotion of peace and unity in the country in respect of the sacrifices of the nation’s fallen heroes.
He said, “Today we are remembering those who have put their lives on the line to make sure that there is peace and this country remains united. It is important that we use today for reflection because it is about sacrifice. People have sacrificed and it is important that we reflect on what they have done by also putting ourselves up for sacrifice.”
Obaseki added, “Everybody wants to take from Nigeria but very few want to give back to Nigeria.”
On his part, Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, called on Nigerians to always show acts of love and appreciation to the families of the fallen heroes who laid their lives for the unity of the country.
Abiodun made the call at the Arcade ground, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, during the celebration of this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
While speaking with journalists, Abiodun asked Nigerians to inculcate a daily habit of showing love and appreciation to families of the fallen heroes, saying without them the country would not have enjoyed peace, order and socio-economic development.
Also speaking on the occasion at Uyo, the state capital, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, stressed the need for Nigerians to redouble efforts in showing undying gratitude to the family of the fallen heroes left behind.
“We must improve the welfare of our soldiers, ensure that they live in decent environments and guarantee a future of growth and development to their children, who oftentimes bear the brunt of the sacrifices their fathers made in the service of the nation,” the governor stated.
Also speaking yesterday, at the Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu Square, Owerri, the Imo State capital, Governor Hope Uzodimma made a case for the establishment of a body that would cater to the needs of fallen heroes of Nigeria.
He said the setting up of a body like National Armed Forces Dedicated Fund (NAFDFUND) in the fashion of TETFUND would go a long way in dealing with cases relating to the welfare of families of officers and soldiers who lost their lives in the cause of national assignment.