The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin has described the Nigerian Armed Forces as the bastion of unity from various divisive tendencies that have constantly threatened the unity of the country. He made this known recently at a 3-day Workshop on the Unification of Veterans’ Association of Nigeria held at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, Abuja where he referred to the Nigerian Armed Forces as “the Pride of nation”.
He further stated that no nation can afford to ignore her Armed Forces, because not only do the Armed Forces defend the territorial integrity of their nations from internal and external aggression but also contributes to the maintenance of internal peace and security and performs other functions in support of civil authority.
He emphasized that the Armed Forces of Nigeria has an array of well trained, highly skilled and qualified personnel in all fields of human endeavour, as products of its training and other institutions locally and internationally. “Our Armed Forces can pride itself as having professional men and women comparable to anywhere in the world. This therefore means that given the opportunity, the Armed Forces can also contribute qualified human capital in several areas of human endeavour in addition to its military capabilities”, he added.
Gen Olonisakin reiterated that the workshop had become necessary to enable the participants discuss areas of differences and fashion out ways of concentrating their efforts into forming a formidable and respectable veteran organization. He informed the workshop that he has the desire to see the emergence of a single unified body for effective management and administration of all military veterans. He however stressed that putting in place a robust and very effective system for veteran administration will be a legacy that will be of benefit not only to the veterans on retirement but also to the families of officers and soldiers who have given a substantial part of their adult life to the service of the nation.
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In his own remarks, the Director of Veterans Affairs Department, Defence Headquarters, Maj Gen ECN Obi while commending the foresight and sagacity of the Chief of Defence Staff for initiating the workshop, observed that matters that relate to Veterans welfare and administration should be treated as relevant to the society after military service.
In his words, “There is no doubt that those who opted for military service choose to make the greatest sacrifice of self for the peace, unity, security and development of the country. Their sense of patriotism is never in doubt and does not end with the termination of active service. Therefore, seated here today are great patriots whose sacrifice is greatly appreciated by the country,” he said.
He maintained that the contributions of the Nigerian Military to the political development of the country is well known to all and cannot be overemphasized. He also stressed that as Nigeria currently operates a democracy, the military continues to play its supportive roles while the veterans are not left out in active politics and nation building. He said it is noteworthy that some of the political leaders who have distinguished themselves are drawn from the veterans. The event was attended by the Associations of Veterans from the United Kingdom, Egypt and Nigeria, the representatives of Service Chiefs, as well as senior Nigerian military officers both serving and retired.