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Sustaining Nigerian Legion through social trust fund

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ARMED Forces Remembrance Day is an annual event observed globally to honour fallen soldiers, officers and men who laid their lives during the First and Second World Wars, Nigerian Civil War and Peace Support.

  The event is celebrated globally on November 11.In Nigeria, it is celebrated on 15th January, to mark the end of the civil war. Armed Forces Remembrance Day is organised by the Ministry of Defence .It is also to  celebrate those who lost their lives in various internal security operations, particularly the current war against terrorism.

  The event is always associated with launch of emblem and appeal fund for the upkeep of the members of the Nigerian legion, families of the fallen soldiers and those incapacitated.

  This year’s event was key started with the launch of emblem on October 16,  2019, by President MuhammaduBuhari .He made a donation of N10 million on behalf of the federal government.

  At the occasion, the president encouraged all citizens to donate generously in support of veterans and dependents of the fallen heroes.

  He called on Nigerians and others resident in Nigeria to procure and wear the emblem with pride, to identify with those who sacrificed their lives for the peace and security of the nation.

  He also enjoined government agencies at federal and state levels to continue to patronise the services of Nigerian Legion Corps of Commissionaires in the provision of security services. President Buhari expressed happiness that “the Nigerian legion has continued to be a rallying point of veterans and has done its part in catering for welfare  of their ailing members. ” He urged the leadership of the legion to continue in that spirit and to Nigerians, to accord the legion the needed support, friendship and patronage.

  President Buhari stated that as the grand patron of the Nigerian legion,  he will continue to support the organization. He thanked the state governors who are also patrons of the Nigerian legion in their respective states.

  According to the president, the potentials of the ex-servicemen are enormous and the economy can tap into this for national development. He charged the citizens not to forget those currently engaged in internal security operations, particularly the on-going war against insurgency in some parts of the country.

  In his words, “It is indeed befitting to honour the memory of the gallant officers and men who paid the supreme sacrifice to keep the country united. For those who survived with varying degrees of incapacitation, they require our attention and care and we will continue  to provide  and cater for them”.

  According to the president, the nation is appreciative of the gallantry and sacrifices of officers and men of the armed forces in the campaign against insurgency and other internal security operations.

  He noted that their efforts had led to the return of normalcy in affected parts of the nation.”TheBokoHaram  terrorists have been  substantially defeated and degraded to the extent that  they are only daring soft targets. However, all hands must be on deck to check the attacks on soft targets, mostly innocent Nigerians, “he stated.

  His Vice, Professor, YemiOsinbajo, at the interdenominational churchservice  to commemorate the 2020 Armed Forces Remembrance Day  celebration on Sunday, in Abuja,   assured Nigerians that the federal government would continue to recognise the sacrifices of the men and women of the nation’s armed forces.

  He said that the government would continue to prioritise their welfare and the wellbeing of the families of the fallen heroes.

  In his words,  “We do not and will not take our men and women of the armed forces for granted.

  “We will do better for our veterans and the families of our fallen heroes and to improve the conditions of those in service and we shall do so incrementally.

   “And so, today, we came together to thank the men and women of our armed forces for their sterling and selfless service to our nation.

  “You have shown uncommon resilience, you have shown courage and commitment to the defence of our country.

  “On behalf of government and people of Nigeria, I thank you veterans and serving officers for your faith and your services to our nation and we thank the families of the fallen heroes for your fortitude,” he said.

  The vice president said that the sacrifices of the men and women of the armed forces both dead and living were responsible for the existence of Nigeria as a nation today.

  He noted that many veterans of various conflicts over time, made the supreme sacrifice including their families who also paid and continued to pay a heavy price.

  According to him, wives or husbands in some cases deprived of their spouses, children growing up without the mentor and counsel of their parents and of course the economic deprivations when only one parent bears the responsibility of bringing up and caring for the family.

  “It may not always be evident but it is true that men and women of the armed forces are not just fighting to preserve the Nigeria of today.

  “Their efforts are in part dedicated to preserving the future for safer, more secured, more confident, more united nation for our children and grand children.

  “Every victory won through your immense courage and your toil in the face of mortal dangers is the inevitable labour pains of the new Nigeria. Your labours will not be in vein,” he said.

  Speaking, the National Chairman, Nigerian Legion, retired Brig.-Gen. AdakoleAkpa, urged the government to continue to improve the welfare and wellbeing of the veterans and their families.

  He said that President Buhari had shown commitment that he understood the plight of the legionnaires, adding that the government had assured of its continuous support.

  He, however, called on the veterans who are still living to identity with the body to enable them benefit from the effort of the legion.

  According to him, everyone who has served this country as a war veteran should identify so that the body can plan for them and make them useful citizens.

  He highlighted some of the legion’s programs saying,  “Legion has a lot of programmes prepared for everybody including agriculture, agro-allied industry, manufacturing, architecture and estate development.

  “These are things that we have in place and the legion is the main platform established by act of the National Assembly to take care of all ex-service men both pensioners and those not pensionable,” he said.

  The interdenominational service is part of the series of events lined up to commemorate the AFRDC 2020.

  Various state governments celebrated this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day and launched the 2020 Emblem, as well as an appeal fund.

  Governor Obiano of Anambra state on his part, called for unity in the country. He charged Nigerians to support the sincere effort of President Muhammadu Buhari to develop the country on all fronts, just as he said no meaningful development can manifest without unity and cohesion.

  At the Holy mass to commemorate the event in Awka, Anambra State the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Reverend Paulinus Ezeokafor urged Nigerians to intensify efforts at ensuring a united secured and indivisible nation. He noted that government that cannot protect the lives and property of its people is worthless and should not be seen or regarded as a government.

  Professor Simon Ortoanya Secretary to the State government, who represented Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State at the launch of Emblem, commended President Muhammadu Buhari on his efforts to summon at the security challenges facing the nation.

  Commandant of the Nigerian legion, Emeka Igwesi appealed to the state government to donate a bus to the organisation. He disclosed that they recently set up a skill acquisition center for the upkeep of the families of their fallen and incapacitated members.

  Meanwhile,  Ben Nwonye, Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance condemned the appeal fund for the Nigerian legion and urged the federal government to establish a social trust fund for the Nigerian legion’s support “federal govt should have real something set out. We should not be launching an appeal fund for the Nigerian legion, we should not be doing that.

  “Government has not done well dealing with the Nigerian legion.   The federal government should set up a social trust fund for them. There should be a monetary allocation set aside for the Nigerian legion. It is disheartening if you watched people who had spent all their lives to the service of the nation. I had the opportunity of living in the United States. It is different and its not fair for  people who had served the nation to live in begging condition. We shouldn’t be doing this. We should be launching for funds for then in the 21st century”, he stated.

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