…As NDA 36 Regular Course mourns death of 39 officers in active service

By Kingsley Omonobi, Abuja

TWO former Chiefs of Defence Staff, General Martin Luther Agwai, retd, and Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, retd, have expressed support for the recent call by the Military High Command for retired officers to be recalled to join in the fight against the myriads of security challenges ravaging the country.

While General Agwai noted that retired officers, having been trained at huge cost to the nation to defend its territorial integrity could not afford to stay aloof and watch insecurity escalate, Admiral Ola Sa’ad said; adding that retired officers must deploy their knowledge in the art of arms and combat, both individually and collectively, in the nation’s interest if called upon.

Both spoke at the post-career awareness seminar and retirement dinner organized by the 36 Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy in Abuja.

Recall that both the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, and Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Faruk Yahaya, had at several meetings with retired senior military officers urged them to be on stand-by, as current and emerging security threats had made their services  inevitable.

Agwai said:  “While it is practically impossible to address all foreseeable security challenges, you, Course 36 retirees, have a duty to continue to proffer solutions and suggestions towards tackling the security challenges facing the nation. This is because the nation has invested a lot of money in making you who you are today.”

On his part, Admiral Ibrahim said: “As retired military officers, you are trained to be focussed, disciplined, and decisive. These attributes will be required anytime the nation has a need.

“So you should be prepared to deploy your knowledge in the collective search to contain national security challenges.

“I urge you all to individually and collectively deploy your wealth of experience for the nation’s good when called upon.”

In his remarks on the occasion, the Chief of the Naval Staff and Patron of 36 Regular Course, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, said there was no doubt that members of the NDA Course 36 Regular Course had fulfilled service life, despite rigours associated with military career.

Post-Service Life

He said:  “As we transit into post-service life, which we all know possesses its peculiarities, equipping ourselves with necessary strategies, knowledge and acumen to transit seamlessly cannot be over-emphasized.

“Consequently, this seminar could not have come at a better time than now. It is on this note I will like to sincerely appreciate our indefatigable President, Brig. Gen. Mustapha Onoiveta, retd, as well as all those that conceptualized this magnificent and thoughtful initiative.

“I will like to charge us all to maximize potentials this seminar offers and as we do, I am optimistic that transition to post-service life to enjoy another fulfilled life will be seamless. “The choice of an appropriate topic to drive today’s deliberation is one step to the transition, the more important part is to draw from wealth of experiences of qualified resource persons that can adequately agitate our thinking towards profitable decisions.


“The reminiscences of all that transpired over the 38 years necessitate thanks to God Almighty for granting us mercy to witness this day. We are also grateful to those that impacted in us, just to mention a few like the Minister of Defence, Maj Gen Bashir Salihi Magashi, retd, Adm Ibrahim Ogohi, retd, Maj Gen ID Penab, retd, Maj Gen PC Tarfa, retd, as well as RSM Oliver Nzalgana and many others.

“We are, indeed, grateful. Although some of us that started the journey together are no more with us, however, our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones.

President of Course 36, Brigadier General Mustapha Onoiveta, retd, in his address, disclosed that of the 205 officers that started the course, 39 had paid the supreme sacrifice, noting that the remaining members had since forged a bond of unity that had seen them through challenges.

He said:  “On September 24,1984, a group of young, enthusiastic and dedicated Nigerians, numbering 205, chose to start a new life and career, which is dedicated to the service of our fatherland.

“These young men, mostly in their teens, were oblivious of what awaited them, thereon. But they were determined to forge ahead. These are the members of 36 Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, and together, we have forged a unity that has become the envy of many.

“The Course scored many firsts among which include being the Course that pioneered the degree-awarding programme in the NDA.

“Also, for the first time in the history of  the Academy, members of the Course passed out on four different occasions. This was a result of the introduction of the degree-awarding programme.

“Additionally, at the commencement of ECOMOG’s intervention in Liberia, it is worthy to note that the first Nigerian Army officer that paid the supreme prize in the ECOMOG Operation, was Late Lieutenant AM Idris.

“36 Regular Course is also the first Course to all enlist into NDA same day and all retired from active service on the same day to the glory of God.

“To the glory of God Almighty, today, one of the service chiefs, the Chief of the Naval Staff in the person of Vice Admiral AZ Gambo AM, is a member of this great course.

We are proud of him and his achievements so far. Sadly, we have lost 39 of our members to date. “Some years ago, some members of this Course came together to establish the 36 RC Family Support Fund, to cater for the families of our departed colleagues. This initiative is what has metamorphosed into the association of members of 36 RC of the NDA today.

“Through this platform, we have continued to galvanize members of the course to support ourselves and to also reach out to the widows and/or children of our departed colleagues. The bond among us has been strengthened while we continue to extend hands of fellowship to and among ourselves.

“Some of our course mates had retired from active service much earlier, while a larger number retired same day about six months ago.

“In the course of our illustrious careers, members of 36 RC held different operational, command and strategic appointments, and through these, contributed immensely to the security and development of the country.’’


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