TODAY IS NIGERIAN ARMED FORCES REMEMBRANCE DAY
As espoused in the programme of events for this year, the Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration (AFRDC), is an annual event organised by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to honour her fallen heroes who had paid the supreme price during the First and Second World Wars, Nigerian Civil War, Peace Support and other various internal Security operations, particularly the on-going Counter-Security operations against insurgency, terrorism and other threat to National Security. Veterans are also honoured, while soliciting for financial support for their well-being as well as families of the fallen heroes.
Hitherto, the day was celebrated in Nigeria along with other members of the Commonwealth of Nations as Armistice Day on 11th November of every year to honour members of the Armed Forces who died during the 1st and 2nd World Wars. It would be recalled that, the First World War Officially ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th Month in 1918. The day was later changed to its present date of 15th January of each year to reflect the Nation’s historical experience, to commemorate and coincide with the end of the 1967 -1970, Nigerian Civil War.
The Nigerian Armed Forces and indeed, the Nation’s Security Agencies, have gone through a lot within the last decade of 2000 to 2019. How have they fared in the last decade? This year marks the commencement of another decade. What will the situation be like for the Nigerian Armed Forces, including serving personnel and the retired veterans, in this decade and the other decades to come.
This year’s commemoration would not be anything different from those of previous ones. Celebrating the AFRD has become an annual ritual of sort. The event should go beyond mere speeches and rhetoric, laying of wreath, Jumma’at and inter-denominational Church Service, setting of pigeons free to symbolise peace, parade displays, release of gun shots and the likes. The day should be a period of reflection on how has the Nation’s fallen heroes, veterans and serving personnel, fared. Has the Nation done enough for them. No doubt, aside from celebration, the day should equally be used to draw attention to the plight of Nigeria’s Armed Forces. In spite of the stride already attained by the Military Pensions Board, much needs to be desired in meeting up to the yearnings and expectations of retired Armed Forces personnel, some of who still laments of being neglected.
January 15th should be a reminder, a wake-up and clarion call for Nigerians, particularly those at the helm of affairs at various levels to support and celebrate the Nation’s fallen and living heroes. For it is in honouring and supporting them that the right message will be sent to those serving personnel across the Country, to feel that sense of belonging that they are not alone. And that they will be rewarded here on earth, rather than the proverbial teachers reward in heaven.
Troops welfare most particularly those currently fighting against insurgency, with myriads of complaints including but not limited to inadequate and obsolete weaponry, near absence of and inadequate welfare, among others, should receive urgent and dispassionate attention at the right quarters. It is only then can the Nation be said and seen as to have celebrated her heroes and heroines, whether living or dead. As reflected in the National Anthem, may the labour of our past heroes not be in vain.