The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, on Thursday in Abuja said that military veterans can still contribute meaningfully to national security and development.
Olonisakin also said that the retirees could play a role in the efforts to “checkmate various divisive tendencies that constantly threaten’’ the nation’s corporate existence.
Olonisakin, who made the remark at the opening of a 2-day retreat on “Unification of Veteran Associations in Nigeria,’’ however, said that the retirees could only do this under a unified association.
The retreat was part of efforts aimed at creating a “Veteran Federation of Nigeria,’’ a single retirees platform through which they can contribute to nation-building.
Olonisakin noted that the “proliferation of veteran associations have not yielded desired results hence the need to explore platform’’ that could unify such associations.
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He said: “The Armed Forces of any nation remain a critical institution not only for the defence of territorial integrity from internal and external aggression but also serves as a vanguard of unity.
“Such unity is more imperative for Nigeria now more than ever before. “Consequently, it has become necessary to explore all avenues to checkmate the various divisive tendencies that constantly threaten our corporate existence.
“A unified and vibrant veteran association has the potential to achieve this purpose.’’ The CDS, therefore, charged the retreat to come up with an ad hoc committee to begin the unification process and establishment of the “Veterans Association of Nigeria.’’
“I also expect the retreat to set up a steering committee to run the affairs of the proposed federation, a contact group to seek the support of the 9th National Assembly for the quick passage of the Veteran Federation of Nigeria bill into law and subsequently take-off of the federation.’’
Earlier, Maj.-Gen. L.F. Abdullahi, the Director, Veterans Affairs Division stressed that the need for a unified veterans association to speak with one voice and achieve unity of purpose.
“It is also believed that in order for the various veterans associations and the nation to benefit maximally from the large human resource base of the veterans and the `World Veterans Federation’ (WVF), there is need to restructure and unite internally. “A united body is stronger and better than so many fragmented bodies acting unilaterally.
“The need, therefore, to have a unified veterans federation in Nigeria, will help tap the abundant human resources of our veterans to improve their lots and contribute to national development is long overdue,’’ Abdullahi said.