Ex-soldiers allege funds’ misuse as government remembers fallen heroes

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Armed Forces Remembrance Day- President Buhari Commends Nigerian Troops
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Armed Forces Remembrance Day- President Buhari Commends Nigerian Troops
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Buhari, others laud troops’ gallantry

Amid allegations of embezzlement of emblem funds and non-payment of pension arrears, the grand finale of the 2017 Armed Forces Remembrance Day was celebrated across the country yesterday.

At the celebration in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari who led Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other top government officials to the Eagle Square, venue of the event commended the armed forces for their contribution to the survival and development of the country.

These allegations have thrown up the need for the government to pay more attention to the welfare of its former military personnel. This would boost the morale of those who are currently in service and are faced with risks in a bid to protect the country or as peacekeepers outside the nation.

He particularly expressed satisfaction with the performance of Nigerian troops ‎in foreign missions, and commended them for the honour their various adventures have brought to the country, even as he urged them to maintain the standard.

Buhari, through a satellite video-conferencing medium, interacted with Nigerian troops of Operation Lafiya Dole fighting in Sambisa forest, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) as well as the Air Force base in Yola as part of activities for the event.

The president spoke through Major General Victor Ezugwu, Acting GOC, 7 Division, Nigerian Army (Sambisa Forest); Major General Salihu Uba, Force Commander for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL); and Air Commodore Charles Owoh, Air Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Air Force Base Yola. Buhari lauded the courage and gallantry of the troops, and said Nigerians were proud of them.

Also present at the event were the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen; service chiefs; and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.

The president laid the traditional wreath at the foot of the statue of the unknown soldier, followed by the vice president and other top government officials.Other activities included the inspection parade carried out by the president, traditional 21-gun salute, signing of anniversary register, and release of white pigeons.

At the celebration in Kano, retired soldiers expressed displeasure with the management of monies being generated on armed forces emblem and accused the leadership of the Nigerian Legion in the state of embezzling the annual donation.The ex-service men who spoke at Mallam Kato Square, venue of the celebration, expressed regret that those primarily meant to benefit from the emblem funds never had the opportunity.

The Spokesman of the Retired Army, Navy and Air forces Association (RANAO), Captain Abdulmaliq Yusuf, called for the abolition of the yearly ritual, describing the celebration as a waste of resources which ought to have been deployed to take care of retired soldiers.

The call came after Governor Abdullahi Ganduje applauded the patriotism, commitment and sacrifice of Nigerian Armed Forces in tackling internal and external threats.One of the retired soldiers, Abubakar Aminu told journalists that he never benefitted from the yearly donations just as he questioned the credibility of those entrusted to manage the funds.

“We only hear millions of naira every year, we don’t know where the money goes. Nobody, not even the leadership of the legion would tell us where the money is going and when you ask the chairman, no serious response,” Abubakar explained.

Another ex-service man, Iliasu Tsoho said: “ The purpose of the money being generated we were told is to be used to assist families of the late soldiers. Many children who lost their fathers on active service don’t have any source of finance now. If you go to the state secretariat of the legion you will see how many of the retired soldiers who cannot feed themselves left alone send their children to school. Honestly so many soldiers are suffering because they were unable to receive their pension for several years.”

In Plateau State, the Chairman of the Nigerian Legion, Col. Danladi Rwang (rtd) appealed to the Federal Government to pay them their nine-month pension arrears.Speaking yesterday at the wreath laying ceremony at the J.D. Gomwalk Secretariat Round About Cenotaph, Jos , Rwang commended Governor Simon Bako Lalong for donating N3million to the legionaries.

The governor had earlier in the week given them a new bus to convey them to wherever they want to go. He also donated a tractor to the ex-service men to help them engage in farming.Former Vice President and chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar charged the armed forces to emulate their counterparts abroad by inventing arms required to defend the nation.

In a statement, Atiku said he was looking forward to the day Nigerian military personnel would join the list of military inventors and designers such as Mikhail Kalashnikov of Russia, the designer of the famous AK-47 assault rifles.

While congratulating the armed forces, the former vice president advised the military leadership to create special units for research to help Nigeria produce its weapons, among others, locally to reduce the dependence on foreign countries for arms.He expressed optimism that the Defence Industries Corporation (DIC), Kaduna would one day showcase the inventiveness, and technical acumen of the Nigerian military.

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6 Comments
  • nats onoja agbo

    DECEMBER 12, NOT JANUARY
    15

    Every year, Nigerians
    troop out on January 15 for what is tagged Armed Forces Remembrance Day. The
    day was set aside to remember the country’s military men who lost their lives
    in battles in Nigeria and other parts of the world. For two reasons, I find it strange
    that January 15 was picked for such a celebration. First, it was that day in
    1966 that some unpatriotic and treacherous military officers truncated Nigeria’s
    march towards a totally united country by overthrowing the elected government
    of Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. That singular action led to a civil
    war that cost the country more than three million lives. It also led to several
    years of military rule during which our ‘Federation’ became a ‘Unitary’
    government. Secondly, the reactionaries who organized and executed that coup selectively
    killed some of the best hands in politics and the military from the North and
    the West, thus polarizing the country. The disunity, distrust and the on-going
    clamor for independence by some groups are direct consequences of those
    senseless killings. So why are we celebrating a day that set us back by many
    years? December 12, which was the day the Nigerian civil war ended, is a more
    ideal date to remember our fallen heroes.

    • William Norris

      Nigeria has NEVER been united. It’s ALWAYS been a front, a trick and a fraud.

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  • vic

    atiku, the dollarman and the chief thief talking of emulating of this and emulating that, this ex treasury looter????

    buhari’s sick and decadent government has not even cleared the pension arrears of retired poor military pensioners nor have the government paid them the 53.7% increase in their pensions enjoyed by their working counterparts in the military and the civil service.

    buhari’s government is a double faced fraud and a hypocrite dead government.

  • sirOscie

    Special tributes to the officers and men who lost their lives in the line of duty, And I urge the authorities to take requisite care of the families of our fallen heroes.

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