…Urges Nigerians to promote national unity
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday gave his administration a thumb up in efforts to combat security challenges in the North-west and North-central zones.
The president, at the launch of the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day (AFRD) Emblem and Appeal Fund in Abuja, also noted that Nigeria’s strength lies in its diversity.
He stressed the need to guard jealously the unity of the nation, which he said was won at a great cost.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement yesterday, said the president also appealed to Nigerians to desist from actions and comments that could jeopardise the unity and progress of the nation.
On security operations in the North-west and North-central zones, Buhari expressed delight at the return of normalcy in some of the areas that previously witnessed security challenges.
He said: “Our dear nation has witnessed numerous security challenges since independence. These security threats have undermined Nigeria in the areas of trade, investment and economy, education, health as well as agriculture.
”I’m, 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.”
The president urged Nigerians to honour the memory of the nation’s fallen heroes and veterans, recalling their sacrifices during the First and Second World Wars, the Nigerian civil war and peacekeeping 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. 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,’’ he said.
The president, who restated that his administration will continue to forge alliances with neighbours and friends in the international community to overcome the security threats affecting the sub-region, promised to ensure timely provision of resources and logistics to support the armed forces.
Buhari pledged that under his watch, the Nigerian Armed Forces will operate with the best modern warfare equipment, with welfare issues receiving utmost attention.
”We are quite aware that it is our responsibility to provide a conducive environment that is devoid of security threats. I want to re-assure Nigerians that security being one of the pillars of this administration will continue to be at the forefront until peace and security are restored in the country,’’ he added.
Buhari also reassured Nigerians of his administration’s commitment to creating an environment in which all citizens and foreigners are guaranteed freedom and returns on investments.
He, therefore, urged business enterprises to give discounts and rebates to men and women in uniform as a symbol of appreciation for their sacrifices, saying ‘‘this kind gesture will make life easier for them and deepen their patriotism.’’
On support for families of members of the armed forces who died in active service, Buhari said: ”The reality is that the spouses and defendants of these breadwinners in most cases experience trauma and deprivation.
“However, we can be of support to them to lighten their burdens, especially in the 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.”
The president also expressed delight that the Nigerian Legion has continued to be a rallying point for veterans, doing a lot in catering for the welfare of ailing members.
He urged governors, who are patrons of legions in their respective states, as well as Nigerians, to continue to support and participate in the legion’s initiatives in the areas of transportation, agriculture and housing development.
The president called on Nigerians and other residents in the country to procure and wear the emblems with pride in order to identify with those who sacrificed for the peace and security of the county.
”I encourage all to donate generously in support of our veterans and dependents of our fallen heroes,” he said.
The president also announced a donation of N10 million to the Nigerian Legion.
The Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. 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 recognise 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 of Nigerian Legion, Brig. Gen. Adakole Akpa (rtd.), thanked the president for his unrelenting support to the ex-servicemen, particularly in ensuring the prompt payment of pensions.