KWSG leads appeal fund campaign for fallen soldiers

Date: 2017-01-10
History is replete with instances of acts of bravery by members of the Nigerian Armed Forces; they are globally recognized for their gallantry in war fronts and peacekeeping operations. Like all mortals, several of them got killed in battlefields while some others turned permanently incapacitated as a result of wounds of wars. In appreciation of their sacrifices, the Kwara State government led other Nigerians to solicit financial help for the departed military men. AHMED 'LATEEF chronicled the Armed Forces Remembrance/ Emblem Appeal Fund Week held in Ilorin at the weekend

By all military standards, members of the Nigerian Armed Forces are reputed for not only protecting the nation's territorial integrity but also offering the best when it comes to foreign missions. Their gallant performances in the theatre of wars had been properly documented, little wonder that they received applause and encomia for selfless sacrifice.

In various battles fought gallantly especially outside the shores of Nigeria, high sense of professionalism and discipline, which is the major hallmark of military engagement was usually exhibited by the soldiers. That alone could be ascribed to the reason they were not found wanting unlike some of their counterparts in other parts of the world accused of certain infractions in the course of operations.

In keeping faith with the oath they wittingly swore to uphold and by extension securing the territories against unwanted elements and external invasions, many of them laid down their lives, all in the name of defending the sanctity of countries ravaged by either internal or external wars.

The battles and peacekeeping operations, in which the nation's troops tested their strength and paid ultimate price of facing the bullets and explosives included World War, Civil War of 1967 (internal), Liberia and Sierra Leone, among others. Unlike other war-torn countries precipitated by external forces, the holocaust that hit both Liberia and Siera Lone were at the instance of internal forces.

Armed with conviction that peace must be returned, the troops moved in droves into the affected countries and dislodged militia groups who had rendered some of the once peaceful countries ungovernable.

In Nigeria also, the military personnel contained many internal aggression through ceaseless efforts by ensuring that undesirable elements were brought to their knees. Some of the past internal security challenges were Civil War and Maitasine among others. The gun wielding soldiers stood firm and gallant by firing shots at those threatening to tear the country into shred.

If not for the globally acclaimed bravery and readiness of the troops to defend the country, no matter the circumstance, Nigeria would have gone the way of some nations in the world that had divided along ethnic and tribal lines.

Presently, Nigeria is confronted by terrorism perpetrated by insurgent group in the North Eastern States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, though some contiguous states were also hit in the past. Among states ravaged by the activities of the insurgents known as Boko Haram, Borno State is believed to the den of the dreaded sect with murderous killing of thousands of innocent souls, destruction and abduction of people in large proportions. The harbinger of the pogrom was the insistence of the insurgents to carve out caliphate in the country constitutionally governed.

In the ongoing war against insurgency, the combatant soldiers were reported to have made tremendous progress especially with the conquest of the dreadful Sambisa forest vaingloriously referred to as strongest hold of the terror merchants.

As the military men were preoccupied in the thick forest to stamp out the fiendish group, many soldiers either got ambushed, fell to the bullets fired at them or got trapped in the land mines set by the insurgents in their hideouts.

The soldiers turned themselves to sacrificial lambs in face of guns and bombs not oblivious of what became of their families, dependants and loved ones but still held onto the oneness and sanctity of Nigeria as a nation, though with diversity. Those still alive (though retired) among fighters of internal invasions and peace-keepers in foreign countries, are now known as legion of ex-servicemen.

It was in view of the selfless and personal sacrifice of maintaining and sustaining the territorial integrity of the nation, which had claimed many life of fine soldiers that the Kwara State government weekend joined its counterparts in the country to solicit financial assistance for the brave men.

This was all at the launching of Armed Forces Remembrance/ Emblem Appeal Week Fund in Ilorin at the behest of the state government through Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.

Speaking at the ceremony, the state Governor, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed, applauded departed troops for their gallant performance in war scenarios with principal aim of safeguarding the nation's territorial integrity.

He said the late soldiers also made priceless sacrifices for the continual existence of the country in the face of many challenges.

Dr Ahmed, who spoke through the state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Ayinke Saka, praised military men on peacekeeping missions and the war against insurgents in the North East.

The Governor also applauded Legion of Ex-Servicemen for keeping the memory of fallen heroes and as well as annual mobilization of funds for their families and dependants.

He also promised his government's continued support to the military personnel and organizations such as Legion of Ex-Servicemen in realizing their objectives.

"From the Burmese forest in World War Two to combating insurgency in the north-eastern part of Nigeria, our soldiers have made sacrifices for the continual existence of our beloved country. As always, we remember and honour them today.

"I commend the Legion of Ex-Servicemen for not just providing for its members but also keeping their memory alive. The fact that you mobilize funds annually for ex-servicemen and their families is praiseworthy.

"As we are all aware, the Armed Forces Remembrance Day is a national ritual where we honour our war veterans who have laid down their lives for Nigeria. All over the world, wearing different uniforms and performing different missions, our military men and women continue to sacrifice their lives in order to keep Nigeria together and ensure world peace.

"Therefore, on behalf of the people of Kwara State, I say thank you to all active troops in various peacekeeping missions around the world and those in Maiduguri, Bauchi and other parts of Nigeria ensuring our safety.

"Let me use this opportunity to state that the fund launched will cater for the families and dependants of soldiers who lost their lives in peacekeeping operations in different parts of the world, and the victims of Hercules C130 plane crash of 26 September, 1992.

"In addition, the fund will also provide assistance to those incapacitated as a result of these wars and incidents. Undoubtedly, our tribute will be hollowed if we fail to acknowledge the families of our military men and women who hold down the fort while their fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters serve the country.

"Truly, they have earned their stripes by sacrifices made in order to support military officers. I enjoin us all to spare a thought for them and keep them in our hearts. I must at this point acknowledge retired and serving military personnel in the state, who have tirelessly carried out their traditional duty of defending and protecting our territorial integrity. We salute your courage, patriotism and selfless sacrifices.

"I assure you that this administration will continue to support military personnel and assist organizations such as Legion of Ex-Servicemen in realizing their objectives", Governor Ahmed said.

The state commissioner for Women Affairs, Hajia Ayinke Saka, whose message was delivered by a Director of Women Affairs in the Ministry, said the selfless sacrifice of the military had gone a long way in stabilizing the nation's polity.

"You will agree with me that today's occasion is derived from our collective love, concern and care for the gallantry and exceptional attribute of statesmanship displayed by these patriotic and illustrious Nigerians.

"They fought with the last drop of their blood in the World Wars, the Civil War, partook in peace keeping operations around the globe and in communal disturbances in various parts of the country especially to maintain the territorial integrity of our dear fatherland. Without their effort, the unity, peace and steady development that are a feature of our polity today would have been a tall dream.

"It is in recognition of their meritorious and laudable service that they are remembered and extolled today. Some of them died while in active service on the war fronts while very many others have been physically incapacitated.

"It is as a result ot this that the Legion of Ex-Servicemen is soliciting our widow's mite to assist in rehabilitating those officers and men of the Nigerians Army who were disabled as a result of the wars; and to cater for the families of the dead ones among them. It is my sincere hope that the labour of our heroes past shall not be in vain", she said.

In his remark, the state chairman of Nigerian Legion of Ex-Servicemen, Colonel Yusuf Adetoro (rtd), stated that the armed forces played significant roles to bring peace to war torn countries.

He called on Nigerians to donate generously to the coffers of the Legion in appreciating their contributions to the unity of Nigeria.

"The Armed Forces Remembrance Day is an annual event in memory of the fallen heroes of the world wars, the Nigerian civil war, some African counties peacekeeping operations and insurgency. The Nigerian Armed Forces played significant roles to bring peace to the affected countries.

"To this great occasion, it is not by mere mourning with lip service but by sincerely and heartily remembering these Nigerian great heroes of their patriotism in fighting and dying for the unity of this country and defending the territorial integrity of our great fatherland Nigeria.

"I beg all and sundry to please donate generously to the coffers of the Legion and with hope that God will bless you abundantly", Adetoro said.

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