Governor of the state of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has advocated for a full week to be set aside annually for the celebration of Nigeria’s fallen soldiers while also soliciting for the week to be called “Armed Forces Remembrance Week” instead of “Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebrations” as it is usually called.
The governor stated this while speaking at the annual Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebrations held at the newly constructed Military Cenotaph situated at the entrance of the State House of Assembly.
The Governor who explained that the fallen heroes deserve a whole week for their remembrance emphasized that the country ought to recognize the patriotism and commitment of the fallen soldiers who accepted to die for the survival of the country, the people and the resources therein.
Ogbeni Aregbesola declared that it takes certain exceptional qualities to take up a vocation that makes someone to be a target for elimination by the enemies.
According to him” We must not just limit our recognition of the armed forces to the remembrance of the fallen heroes alone, I suggest that a whole week should be devoted every year to the armed forces and this should be called the armed forces week. A day in that week should also be set aside to honour the significance of those who have laid down their lives for the unity and existence of our nation.
“We can never overlook the fact that for anybody to enlist into the army and be ready to cross the enemy line and face death is a high measure of patriotism, commitment and high level of sacrifice.
“Of course, soldiery is a calling, just like any divine calling. Certain individuals must be imbued with certain qualities like courage, selflessness, protective instinct and a disposition to taking high risk, to be able to naturally take to soldiery.
“Humans naturally follow the least line of resistance and would take great effort at self-preservation. It takes certain qualities therefore to take up a vocation that instantly makes one a legitimate target of elimination by the enemy.
“So rather than just limit it to just those who have fallen, let ua also recognize the patriotism, commitment and dedication of all who have volunteered to die in the defence of our nation”
Governor therefore called on the appropriate authorities on the need to change the week for remembrance of the fallen heroes to armed week, while a day in that week will be set aside for remembrance nationwide.
Governor Aregbesola who commended the gallantry of nation’s security agencies, said the roles being played by the men of Nigerian Army, Navy, Immigration, Customs, Department of State Services, Police among others could not be over emphasized.
Aregbesola who described the plethora of challenges facing Nigerian security agencies especially Nigerian Soldiers as uncalled for, said the nation has grown to the stage of giving the due recognition, dignity, respect and honour to the people who laid their precious lives to savage the entire nation.
He lamented over what he regarded as undeserved maltreatment of Nigerian security agents, saying the best way to combat insecurity challenges was to put utmost smile in the faces of those who have already volunteered themselves for the service of their fatherland
Aregbesola said the present fight against insurgency has been a onerous task on the military, stressing that the only way to totally eradicate any form of insurgency was for Nigerians to support the current template of “fight against insurgency” being orchestrated by the present government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He called on the Federal Government and other appropriate military authorities to strengthen the nation’s security agencies especially in fighting Boko Haram which he regarded as monsters that must be totally uprooted and eliminated.
He said further, “Nigerians fought brilliantly to keep the world safe in the First and Second World Wars. They also fought a very bloody civil war to keep Nigeria one. They have been involved also in peace keep missions in the troubled parts of the world and have been instrumental to supporting democracies in Africa.
“These are missions in which precious lives have been lost and in which many returned home wounded and incapacitated.
“Nigerian soldiers have been involved in defending the homeland against foreign incursions by soldiers and rebels from our neighbours and are currently engaging insurgents in especially North Eastern part of the country.
“The evil insurgents which our soldiers are facing are barbaric and nihilistic elements pretending to be fighting a religious war.
“They represents nothing but a deranged ideology of hate and a cult of death that projects nothing but the worst in humans.
“They materialize like shadows to attack communities. They will not even spare the aged, women, children, animals and crops in their barbaric assault, before they dematerialise and varnish into thin air.
“It is disconcerting therefore that our soldiers were deployed to fight these monsters without proper equipment.
The number one citizen in the state also used the occasion to bemoan the financial misappropriation of the fund set aside to procure arms for the Nigerian army in the fight against the insurgents in the North-east, saying it is an act of wickedness and gross indiscipline for anybody to engage in such gruesome act.
Aregbesola said, “My heart bleeds each time I read the report that the insurgents had ambushed our soldiers or that our military base had been attacked.
“These soldiers were deliberately put in harm’s way and practically sent on suicide missions.
“It is even a monumental scandal of unimaginable proportion that funds meant for procuring arms for soldiers are shared among members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) without the least compunction.
Governor Aregbesola who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his brilliant moves to unravel the heinous crime being perpetrated by those who seem to be above the board in the sector.
Aregbesola held that it is ridiculous and lugubrious for anybody to desecrate blasphemously the ethics and tradition of the military, not to talk of deliberately ambushing the gallant officers.
“I commend the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari in unravelling this heinous crime and I sincerely hope that all those involved will receive full retribution.
“Some of the soldiers caught in the maelstrom and indicted have been pardoned but some have lost their commission while others face uncertain future.
“Considering the circumstances of this unusual event, it is pertinent that a fresh inquiry be set up so that justice will be given to all those involved and our gallant soldiers will not be punished unjustly.
Governor Aregbesola therefore advocated for prompt payment of the salary arrears of Nigerian security agents, saying it unforgivable sin for a country to owe the people who chose to protect the lives and property of their fatherland.
“Serving and retired officers’ salaries and other emoluments should be paid promptly. It is an unforgivable sin for a country to owe its veterans.
“The practice of retired soldiers blocking streets and engaging in demonstrations before getting paid is shameful.
“With computerisation, the process should be seamless and soldiers should not have any cause to sweat before collecting their entitlements. As we remember our deceased soldiers, let us remember their surviving families and the welfare of the veterans.
“Many of them need decent accommodation and medical attention. Do not let them regret choosing to defend the country to some other vocations where their welfare could have been better taken care of.
“I am also calling on the soldiers not to lose their discipline after service by engaging in self-defeating acts and criminal behaviours incompatible with fine soldiery.
“More importantly, the able-bodied among them should strive to find a gainful engagement. They should find civilian use for some of the skills they have acquired while in service. We are in a new era where every citizen must be productive and contribute to the commonwealth”, Aregbesola added.