FORMER President, Olusegun Obasanjo, Tuesday, cautioned Nigerian leaders against acts that could lead to another civil war, even as he shunned the request by Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, to lay a wreath at the Armed Forces Remembrance Day in Abeokuta.
Obasanjo who spoke on the occasion for fallen heroes at Arcade ground in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, Ogun State, said Nigerians should learn from history. He urged government at all levels to remember the families of the slain soldiers.
Lamenting the loss of many security personnel during civil and international wars, he said Nigerian leaders should ensure that what led to the previous wars did not reccur.
According to Obasanjo, “war is not a picnic. When you engage in wars, lives are bound to be lost. That is why, as much as possible, wars should be avoided. For us in Nigeria, even when we were fighting against the colonial power, we lost Nigerians in Burma, in East Africa. But since the days of the constabulary, because that is where the Nigerian Army started from, Nigerian security forces have been losing lives either in support of civil authority or in fighting local wars.
”The aim of this celebration is to constantly remember the sacrifice that the fallen heroes have made. It is also to constantly remind us that they left families behind who need to be catered for”
Meanwhile, there was a mild drama at the armed forces Remembrance Day ceremony when former President Obasanjo shunned the request by governor Amosun to lay a wreath.
When Obasanjo’s name was mentioned as part of the dignitaries to lay the wreath,the former President declined despite pleas by the governor.
The programme was put on hold as many dignitaries including the Deputy governor, Segun Adesegun, the Iyalode of Egbaland, Alaba Lawson, pleaded with him to reconsider his stance.
Vanguard gathered that Obasanjo’s anger was because his name was not in the brochure as part of those that would lay the wreath.
However, governor Amosun, the Brigade Commander, 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta, E E John, the commandant, Nigerian Navy Secondary School, Abeokuta M A Adetunji, and the state Chairman, Nigerian Legion, Samuel Olaosebikan among others, laid wreaths.
Nation’s fallen heroes
In Bayelsa State, the government called on Nigerians to spare a moment of thought for families of the nation’s fallen heroes.
Governor Seriake Dickson, who made the appeal, yesterday, in Yenagoa on the occasion of this year’s armed forces remembrance day celebration, relived the trauma brought about by the death of loved ones, saying, “Imagine what happens to the family of a soldier when he dies in active service.”
He was represented by his Deputy, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd).
Similarly, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State, has restated his administration’s resolve to rehabilitate the ex-service men and their families, especially those who lost their dear ones while serving the nation.
Speaking at this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day Ceremony in Asaba, Uduaghan said the care of ex-service men should be seen as a responsibility while calling on Nigerians to take to the welfare of ex-service men in the country as a national challenge.
He said, “It is my belief that ex-service men, who served this great nation should be taken care of adequately. My administration will ensure that ex-service men in the state are exposed to some job opportunities and all promises made for their welfare will be fulfilled.”
In Ondo State, no fewer than 241 widows and wives of men of the armed forces have benefitted from the Armed Forces Resettlement and Empowerment Loan Scheme instituted by the Ondo State Government.
The N20 million revolving loan scheme was instituted by government to alleviate poverty among the wives and widows of the fallen heroes.
Over 200 women benefited from the scheme last year, while cheques of N100, 000 were distributed to new set of beneficiaries at this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration held in Akure.
Speaking during the celebration, Governor Olusegun Mimiko, said his government would continue to show concern for the welfare of the widows and wives of the men of the forces.
Mimiko who spoke through his deputy, Alhaji Ali Olanusi said “the event was very significant as it afforded the country the opportunity of paying respect to the fallen heroes. Mimiko said the empowerment programme put in place by government was meant to enable the families of the fallen heroes take care of themselves.
Defence of the nation
In Osun State, Governor Rauf Aregbesola, decried the neglect of some discharged soldiers, who fought in the defence of the nation by the concern authorities.
Governor Aregbesola spoke in Osogbo, yesterday during the Wreath Laying ceremony and commissioning of the newly renovated Military Cenotaph as part of the activities marking the 2013 Arm Forces Remembrance Day.
The governor, represented by his deputy, Otunba Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, lamented reports that the families of some soldiers that died in defence of the nation were yet to get their entitlements.
According to the governor, “Given the nature of the soldering profession as an organised armed service called upon to defend society to the death, how does the society respond to this ‘special calling’ through its treatment of the military and its members?
Does the society cater to its needs as an institution to be able to fulfil the essence of its special calling? And as individuals, what does the society offer them for their ultimate loyalty and patriotism in answering the call to lay down their lives on society’s behalf?
In Ekiti State, A House of Representatives member, Mr Opeyemi Bamidele, called on Federal Government to make special fund available to cater for the families of the fallen military officers
Bamidele, who represents Ado Ekiti-Irepodun-Ifelodun Federal, noted that many of the families of the fallen heroes who fought to preserve the territorial integrity of the nation were poverty-stricken
In a statement by his Media Aide, Ahmed Salami, in commemoration of the Day, Bamidele argued that staging annual parades in honour of these officers was not enough.
He said that government should take a step further, by directly dealing with their families, saying “I am not against annual honours for these men, but the Federal Government should do more. They should provide for their families who are suffering. We should remember that some of these fallen heroes fought many wars. They strived hard to keep the unity of this nation during the trying period and they deserve being taken care of, even after death.
“In light of this, a Special Fund can be set up by Federal Government to reach out to families of the fallen heroes, but before granting their requests, there should be evidence that they are qualified to make such requests .”