Fifteenth January every year is set to remember and honour Nigerian soldiers who lost their lives in world wars, other wars and conflicts. Undoubtedly, the Nigeria Armed Forces is chronicled to be one of the most disciplined in Africa, thereby giving boast to the country’s image.
It is on record that Nigeria major General, JTU Aguyi Ironsi was the first black man to command the United Nations contingent during the Congo wars. it must also be remembered that the country’s soldiers created unique impressions in the Congo Leopoldville, now Zaire, Lebanon, Liberia, Tanzania, Cameroun and Nigerian Civil Wars.
No doubt, a good number of them were either killed or maimed during the wars particularly the Nigeria Civil War necessitating the Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration. The celebration is not only to remember those who laid their lives so that others may live. it is also to honour ex-servicemen, who were lucky to survive the wars.
The idea of honouring fallen heroes all over the world started in 1918 when the league of nations chose the eleventh of November to remember soldiers who died in the first world war. However, the date for the celebration in Nigeria was changed to fifteenth January in 1977 because of the historical significance of that date in the nation’s political development.
It was on January fifteenth 1966 that the first Military Coup took place. Again, the Nigeria Civil war ended on January fifteenth 1970. The Armed forces and Remembrance Day Celebration, therefore gives the nation the opportunity to express its gratitude to all those who paid the supreme sacrifice to save the world, and indeed the nation, from disintegration.
The nation also utilizes the occasion to show gratitude to ex-servicemen, some of them maimed while defending their fatherland. Therefore, unlike in the past, when it was known as the Remembrance Day, the celebration of the Armed Forces and Remembrance Day now is for the living and the dead heroes. Not only that the fallen heroes did not have the benefit of benefiting and mourning by friends and relations, many of them left behind dependents, who ought to be catered for.
The Armed Forces and Remembrance Day provides an opportunity for sober reflection by the society on the plight of the ex-servicemen and dependants of those who laid down their lives for the nation. Apart from that, Nigerians should use the annual event to reflect on the state of the Nation particularly this period of security challenges and other vices that are drawing the country backwards.
Some of the vices are wide spread corruption, embezzlement of public and pension funds, astronomical rise in rape cases, kidnapping, brutal and senseless assassination, vandalism of public utilities and advanced fee fraud, known as 419. President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration is striving to address these problems and Nigerians should do well to support the government in the interest of all.
As the government is doing all it can to better the lives of the citizens include members of the armed forces. More efforts should be made to equip the forces and other security agencies to cope with the war against terrorism, insurgency, and other security challenges. These are some of the ways to demonstrate that those who paid supreme sacrifice and veterans who took grievous risks on our behalf did not do so in vain.
As edited by Anthony Okofu Head of Corporate Development and Communication