Says Nigerian’s no longer in doubt over sustenance since 1999.
By: Kingsley Omonobi – Abuja
As the Nigerian Military marks the anniversary of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day on Saturday, January 15, 2022, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor has declared that with the military’s subordination to democratic tenets and norms since 1999, Nigerians are no longer in doubt democracy has come to stay.
The CDS made the disclosure at a Channel’s TV interview on Friday while answering questions on the significance of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
“Today, I believe that Nigerians are no longer in doubt as to the subordination of the military to the democratic rule which has been sustained since 1999. I believe that no one is in doubt that democracy has come to stay. I believe that no one is in doubt any longer that the current military leadership, and of course, since democratisation in 1999, that the military is well focused to perform its constitutional roles.”
The CDS spoke against the backdrop of apprehension over recent undemocractic interventions in some West African and North African countries.
Gen Irabor said, “As you know, the armed forces are responsible for the territorial responsibility of our Nation and giving greater support to the civil authority by virtue of the provisions of the constitution. In doing that, of course, men and women have paid the supreme price, and with respect to having to celebrate the sacrifices of our men and women who of course are engaged in this adventure, especially for those who have paid the supreme price I would say to a large extent, that of course there is nothing that you offer for those who have laid down their lives for the protection of their entire nation that can be too much.
“It is in that light that while thanking Nigerians for the very valued support to the armed forces that I’d like to crave for more. We can do better, we’ve done well no doubt but I believe we can do better.
“Currently I’m sure you know that we’re engaged in various types of operations and the one that is, of course, more daunting has to do with terrorism and insurgency to which elements of banditry have complicated and I’m glad that, that has also been put in the contest by way of targeting them as terrorists. And so to do this which is something new and different from the conventional military duties demands that support from the citizen’s is increased.
Not only by providing information but also situating currencies in a manner that does not denigrate the efforts of those that are engaged in this enterprise, but to give some form of motivation and a sense that will enable them to say “look we have the citizens behind us so that the common enemy of the people can actually be focused on.
“Currently I believe that there are still a number of grounds to cover in this area besides having to once in a while organize visits to those who are in the hospitals, those who are widows by virtue of the death of men and women of the armed forces who have paid the supreme price.
By providing some form of succor to them beyond of course what the military can provide.
On providing support for the military other than statutory government provisions, the CDS said, “These should be seen as civic responsibilities. We do not need to go and campaign for them. In other climes, you don’t go around creating programs to sensitize the populace and so I believe in that light that Nigerians are well educated and knowledgeable in that regard to understand that these are part of civil responsibilities. I mean we have great Nigerians who understand this and that is actually the context in which I’m making these statements.
Regarding the significance of the remembrance day proper, Irabor said, “As part of the global community you know that the armed forces of Nigeria is an offshoot of the colonial arrangement and so because we took part in the world wars of course there was an arrangement to have what we call 11/11 that is 11th of November of every year to commemorate this kind of thing, especially for the commonwealth countries.
And so when we had the challenge of the civil war and it ended on the 15th of January 1970 I’m sure you know just as most Nigerians know that the Nigerian civil war which was fought for over 3 and a half years ended on the 15th of January by the force of submission of the instrument of surrender to the then head of state.
“So we felt that giving that the unity of Nigeria was won back by the armed forces by the time, that we have something to celebrate back home here, by not just joining the global community but equally to signify something that is national and that actually marks the beginning of the celebration of armed forces Remembrance Day on the15th of January every year.
Expatiating on how Nigerians can give support, the CDS said, “I’m glad that by virtue of the privileged position that I hold I know there are many Nigerians who were engaged in praying for the men and women of the armed forces, giving their support in one way or the other, especially for the widows and the orphans of our fallen heroes to ensure that they do not regret, that they’re also motivated. Because the military as it were, you know is an institution that is also dynamic.
“Many years ago I was a young boy, I joined the Nigerian Defence Academy and of course over the years and commission, today I’m the number 1 soldier of the armed forces. One day I’m going to exit. At the time of exit, there will be someone just like me. Today, several years after I’m here. So it’s a process.
“So what do we do for those who need to come in; How do we motivate them to have the mind to serve their country with such love that the Nigerian Armed Forces have exhibited over the years. This precisely is what I believe should be done in order to motivate Nigerians, that looks there is a need for us to keep the territorial integrity intact, preserve the unity and cohesiveness that we have.
“Today it’s only the military, in my view, that stands that position to give that sense of national unity because you can’t speak of sovereignty without the military. So where you do not have a professional armed force, I’m sure there are examples across the world that you know that anarchy is just knocking around them.
“So we do not want this here and it’s by virtue of the collective actions of the response of Nigerian stakeholders that will enable us to get to that shape and form. Going forward we want to see a better appreciation of the Nigerian men and women of the armed forces in such a manner that they’re motivated. That doesn’t imply that aren’t other Nigerians in other walks of life helping to contribute to growth and development of our nation.”