Abuja â€” PRESIDENT Umaru Yar’Adua said yesterday that the nations’ democratic governance has lasted 10 years, uninterrupted, which the nation is celebrating today because of the deep-rooted loyalty and professionalism of the officers and men of the Nigerian armed forces.
His words: “tomorrow (today) marks the 10th anniversary of civil democratic governance in Nigeria. It is gratifying to note that the nation’s Armed Services have been critical partners over the last 10 years in the quest for the entrenchment and strengthening of democratic ideals, institutions, and structures.
“Subordination to civil authority as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has become institutionalised. This development is due to the deep-rooted loyalty and patriotism of the officers and men of our Armed Forces.”
FG plans Police reform
And in his Democracy Day speech, the President announced the Government’s plan to reform the Police Force.
He said: “In keeping with our commitment to ensuring security of lives and property in all parts of the country, we have taken steps to reform the Nigerian Police Force and bridge its funding gap by getting the National Council of State to agree to the creation of a special fund which will receive contributions for its operations from the three tiers of government.”
Speaking at the foundation-laying ceremony of the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Barracks in Asokoro, Abuja, the President hailed the Armed forces for their outstanding courage and professional excellence so far displayed in the performance of their internal security duties as well as in peacekeeping missions abroad saying it is a prideto the nation.
“Our pride as a nation is in the outstanding courage and professional excellence of our officers and men in the various international peace support and internal security operations.”
While urging the military to keep the ‘flag flying’, he said, “On our part, I want to assure you that this administration will continue to do all it can to ensure the welfare and wellbeing of members of our Armed Forces”.
Emphasising that the effort at ensuring good accommodation for the Armed Forces is not limited to Abuja alone, he said “nationwide, the Presidential Committee on Barracks Renovation is pursuing its mandate vigorously.
More barracks will be given the desired facelift for the comfort and professional wellbeing of all personnel, while basic infrastructure will continue to receive priority attention”.
Describing the building of the barracks in honour of his late brother as a commendable initiative, Yar’Adua said, “I expect that when I come to commission the new and modern Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Barracks in the no distant future, we would be initiating even more impressive infrastructural development projects for our Armed Forces”.
Restates offer to militants
On the Niger Delta, the President restated the Government’s offer of amnesty to militants.
According to him, “Our offer of amnesty to militants in the region who lay down their arms remains on the table. I urge them to avail themselves of this offer and join hands with us and their peaceful and law-abiding compatriots to develop the Niger Delta for the benefit of its people.”
Earlier, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Abdurahman Dambazau said the barracks was named after the late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua in recognition of his contributions to the development of the Nigerian Army particularly his concern for the welfare of the officers and men.
Giving the genesis of how the barracks came about, the Army Chief said, “Sometime in October 2008, I approached Mr. President on the need for special intervention to construct barracks accommodation for our soldiers due to acute accommodation problem, which resulted in the pairing of two to three families in a flat.
“The approval of Mr. President for this special intervention gave birth to this particular project being constructed through direct labour by the Nigerian Army engineers. The barracks would accommodate 600 families on completion in the next 24 months”.
Expressing happiness that it is the first time in the history of Nigerian Army that the construction of a whole barracks, including the infrastructure is being undertaken by the army engineers, Dambazau said, “This feat affirms the capacity of the Nigerian Army Engineers to handle mega projects”.