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We refuse to be distracted, says Army Chief

By Kingsley Omonobi
Aftermath of consistent calls by several groups including the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, that last Wednesday’s deployment of troops in the airport during President Umaru Yar’adua’s return without the knowledge of Acting President Goodluck Jonathan be probed, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Abdurahman Dambazau has stated that no amount of distraction will make the army via off its constitutional roles.

“I want to state categorically that we in the Nigerian Army know our constitutional responsibilities as clearly stated in Section 217. We say we want the Nigerian Army to be the pride of the nation. We have set goals and stipulated criteria on how to achieve those goals. There is no amount of distraction that will take us off that course.”

General Dambazau, who was speaking when he received the National chairman and executive members of the Nigerian Legion in his office, agreed with the leadership of the legion that “though it is a difficult period in the nation’s history, it is a political thing in which the army should not be drawn into. Nobody will succeed in dragging us into it”.

Continuing he said, “Nobody needs to remind us of our constitutional responsibilities. We will remain focused. We will remain resolute in our avowed roles of loyalty to the democratic dispensation. Nobody will succeed in dragging us into it”.

Commending the Nigeria Legion for the role it has played in ameliorating the problems and hardship suffered by families of officers and soldiers who lost their lives in theatres of operation across the world and within the country, the Army chief  said, “we know the sacrifices we make while serving. Many of us are no more. We know the cushioning effect that you bring to bear on families of fallen heroes. The legion is an organization many of us believe in. So you must keep up the good work”

Recalling the strength of the services, Dambazau said with the strength of the army at 90, 000, the Navy at 10, 000men and the Airforce at 11, 000, it was obvious that the Nigeria Army has more to do with the legion hence he directed that the office of the legion be furnished while the army assist the organization in the production of its journal ‘The Legionnaire’.

Earlier, Chairman of the legion, Col. M. Gaya (rtd), noted that monies usually realized during the wreath laying ceremony and emblem appeal week are nothing to write home about as pledges are not met and the responsibilities keep increasing.

“What we get is only a fraction of our expectation. From this money we are expected to provide hardship allowances to families, payment of school fees, buying of foodstuff for these families. Infact, our only saving grace is that we have a building here in Abuja that we rented out and we collect rentage of about N5million yearly. That is what helps us”.

“Some states give the legion N2million grant to assist them run their affairs but we at the headquarters get nothing. Last year (2008) during the emblem appeal week, we got pledges of N7million but only N4million was redeemed. In 2009, we got pledges of N5million but only N3million was redeemed. So we need all the assistance we can get because our constitution allows us to source for assistance”.


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