From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, showered encomiums on Nigerian troops “for restoring Nigeria’s integrity” with the various successes they recorded in the war against insurgents and at other international peace keeping operations.
He gave the commendation, yesterday, via video-conferencing with Nigerian troops in Sambisa, United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the Air Force in Yola, after leading other dignitaries, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to lay wreaths in honour of soldiers who died in service in Nigeria and at international assignments.
“With your hi-tech performance and platforms, we have been able to restore the sanity and the territorial integrity of Nigeria; I congratulate you,” the President told the troops.
The ceremony, which held at the National Arcade at the Three-Arms Zone, was to mark the 2017 Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
This would be Buhari’s second time of honoring the fallen heros since he assumed office as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
Other dignitaries who laid wreaths were Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen and Minister of Defence, Dan Ali Mansur.
Others were Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Mohammed Bello and the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, who led service chiefs, Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris and National Chairman of the Nigerian Legion, Col. Micah Gaya (Rtd.) to honor the fallen heroes.
January 15th every year is also dedicated to remembering and appreciating surviving Nigerian military men who have retired from active service.
Buhari, clad in white ‘Babanriga’, just like Osinbajo, Saraki, and Dogara, performed the ceremony a little over a month after the 2017 Armed Forces Remembrance Day emblem and Appeal Fund was launched in November 2016.
The brief ceremony started at 10.00 a.m. when President Buhari arrived the National Arcade and inspected the guard of honour.
Christian and Muslim prayers were offered for the departed souls and the nation.
One minute silence was observed in honour of the departed souls and there was gun salute during the wreath-laying ceremony.
The President also signed the register and led the dignitaries to release white pigeons at the no-speech-making ceremony.
Buhari, after the ceremony via video-conferencing, spoke to Nigerian troops in Sambisa, United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the Air Force in Yola.
The names of the Commanders in the three locations that interacted with the President are Major General Victor Ezugwu, Acting GOC, 7 Division, Nigerian Army (Sambisa), Major General Salihu Uba, Force Commander (UNMIL), Air Commodore Charles Owoh and Air Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole (Air Force Base Yola).
The President said to the troops in Sambisa: “You have done Nigeria a great pride. Your success was well received by all Nigerians. I wish you more successes. And maintain the standard for efficiency in your assignment. I congratulate you and I thank you very much for the honour done to the country. Well-done! I wish you and your families well and I hope you are in touch with your families. Thank you very much, indeed.”
After briefing the President, the GOC in the Sambisa forest led the troop to give three happy cheers to the President.
Buhari told Maj. Gen. Uba that the final batch of Nigerian troops will exit from Liberia by 2018.
“We thank God and we thank technology for this. I can see you and I can hear you. I am impressed with the turnout of your men and I thank you for keeping the flag flying on the performance of Nigerian military in the United Nations peacekeeping operations. God willing, as you briefed us, in 2018 the last contingent of Nigeria troops in Liberia will come back. I sincerely wish them a successful operation and I wish the General the best of luck.”
The troop in Liberia also gave three happy cheers to the President after the Force Commander briefed the President.
The President also spoke with Air Commodore Owoh, who is the Air Commander of Operation Lafia Dole at the Air Force base in Yola, Adamawa State.
He said to Owoh: “That was a good presentation. I get regular briefing from your Chief of Air Staff.
Your performance speaks for itself and you have raised the morale of your colleagues in the military especially the army.
With your hi-tech performance and platforms, we have been able to restore the sanity and the territorial integrity of Nigeria; I congratulate you.
“For the officers and men, you know you cannot be over-trained. With your hi-tech outfit, training has to be continuous, and I am very pleased with the initiative that you have taken in maintenance of equipment. It is very encouraging and a boost to our morale here. I congratulate you and, please, pass my message to your families that we are very mindful of their patience and anxiety whenever you are in the field. Thank you very much, indeed.”