By Daniel Idonor
ABUJAâ€” President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday cautioned officers and men of the Nigerian Armed Forces to shun all forms of ethnic and religious sentiments in the discharge of their duties.
He gave the charge at this yearâ€™s Nigerian Army Day Celebration, NADCEL, in Abuja.
President Jonathan warned that ethnic and religious bigotry in the nationâ€™s army could compromise its integrity and virtues, and endanger the nationâ€™s democracy if not checked.
â€œIn defending the peace today, we are faced with new challenges as exemplified in skirmishes within the nation.
â€œWe must remember that some of the greatest dangers to our democracy and freedom are shrouded in the perils of ethnicity and religious intolerance. These evils threaten our very existence as one sovereign and indivisible nationâ€, Jonathan stated.
The President therefore, urged the leadership of the Nigerian Army to â€œdiscourage such sentiments and encourage our men to see each other as brothers in the pursuit of a common destiny.â€
He commended the Nigerian Army for its loyalty and subordination to civil authority, while pledging that his administration will do more to improve on the welfare of its officers and men.
President Jonathan also enjoined the nationâ€™s armed forces to continue to maintain the high level of professionalism which has earned Nigeria a good name and enhanced status in the international community.
He said with the high expectation from African nations in peacekeeping, Nigeria remains committed to international security and will continue to work in close collaboration with these nations to promote peace, stability and development on the African continent and the globe.
While urging the armed forces to forestall any breach of the nationâ€™s territorial integrity at all times, President Jonathan said it must be vigilant and alert to support the police in maintaining peace when called upon.
He added that government on its part will build on the peace efforts of late President Yarâ€™Adua in the Niger Delta region by providing infrastructural development.