President Muhammadu Buhari said that the recent successes by the Nigerian Army to flush out terrorists from their strongholds saved Nigeria from disintegration.
The President, who was represented by the Minister of Defence, Maj General Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd) at the Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) 2021, said the Army despite involvement in politics since 1999 has remained professional and subordinate to democratic civilian control.
This is just as 10 officers and seven soldiers received COAS commendation awards 2021 for gallantry, professionalism and sportsmanship.
President Buhari said the Nigerian Army as part of the larger Armed Forces has continued to discharge its constitutional roles with great success.
â€œI am particularly happy to note that despite the Armyâ€™s involvement in politics, it has since 1999 remained a highly professional Army subordinated to democratic civilian control.It is to the credit of the Army that despite the current internal security challenges, the nationâ€™s commitments to regional and international peace and security remain unshaken.â€
He said the the Nigerian Army Day has remained one of the pillars which continues to give hope to the citizens in the collective aspirations to be a stable peaceful and developed democratic society.
â€œThis government is also aware that the achievements of the Nigerian Army also come with associated costs. Some soldiers have lost their lives, some have sustained injuries and a significant number have been away from their families for long periods. I once again send my condolences to the families of those who died in an effort to safeguard the sovereignty of our great nation. May their gentle souls rest in peace.
â€œI urge the NA to continue to abide by its ethics and ethos and to keep to its Rules of Engagement while ensuring that human rights are respected in the conduct of military operations. I salute the courageous and gallant exploits of the personnel of the Nigerian Army.
â€œI am highly impressed with the conduct of operations that flushed out the terrorists and criminals from their strongholds. You have saved Nigeria from disintegration and have demonstrated a high sense of professionalism in your operations. I want to assure you that this Government and indeed the Nigerian People deeply appreciate your noble sacrifices to safeguard our nation,â€ he said
The President further charged the officers and men of the Nigerian Army to be proactive in evolving new strategies, methods and techniques of wining the hearts and minds in the current phase of operations.
Buhari also urged them to continue to collaborate and synergize with other security agencies in the country as well as friendly nations facing similar challenges in order to enhance current operations.
He commended the increasing understanding and cooperation within the military, as well as the inter-agency cooperation in the fight against the terrorists and other criminal elements in the North-East.
â€œThis jointness no doubt has led to the decimation of some terrorists and criminal elements in our society. Government services and private businesses have since resumed in areas hitherto controlled by these terrorists. Therefore, as we celebrate the achievements of the Nigerian Army and all security agencies, i would like to thank all well-meaning Nigerians for their support and understanding,â€ he added.
President Buhari thanked the citizens for cooperating and supporting the security agencies in exposing all agents of destruction and instability in the polity.
He said, â€œas a responsible government, we are conscious of the challenges being faced by the citizenry. I would like to assure you that these would be resolved in the shortest possible time.â€
He said his government has resolved to do everything within its constitutional power to ensure the security and safety of law-abiding citizens.
He further assured the Armed Forces of his governmentâ€™s commitment to improved welfare.
â€œWe will continue to provide you with the needed support to enhance your welfare. In the same vein, i am aware of the challenges confronting the Nigerian Army such as inadequate equipment and insufficient funds for maintenance and training as well as other logistics constraints affecting your operational efficiency. As you may be aware, my government has put in place a mechanism that would address these problems in phases albeit in the face of other competing national demands,â€ he added.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Faruk Yahaya, said 6 July is of great significance in the history of the NA and indeed Nigeria because it was on this date in 1967 that the first shot was fired at Garkem, a border town in present day Cross River State, in what turned out to be the unfortunate 30-months Nigerian Civil War.
He said it is in view of the significant role the NA played in the resolution of the crisis, that this date was chosen and set aside not only to keep her history alive, but also to project and educate members of the public on the activities of the NA.
â€œIt also affords us the opportunity to showcase our contributions to the socio-economic and political developments of Nigeria. This celebration is also important because of its role as a constant reminder of the sacrifices the NA has continued to make to keep Nigeria a united and indivisible nation. Additionally, while reflecting on the past, NADCEL presents opportunity for the NA to also deliberate on its future by fine tuning and redirecting its efforts to remain in perfect harmony with its constitutional responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria and its Constitution.â€
He sad the today being the Grand Finale of NADCEL 2021 will also feature the Chief of Army Staff Honours and Awards ceremony.
â€œGiven the solemn mood we are in, this honors and awards ceremony is necessitated by the need for us to encourage our officers and soldiers who are exemplary. â€ he said
General Yahaya said the Nigerian Army has in the past month been repositioning itself, as an Army ready to accomplish assigned missions within a joint environment in the defence of the nation.
â€œIt is through our concerted efforts that the activities of insurgents, terrorists secessionist and other violent criminal elements that threatened the very corporate existence of this country have been greatly reduced.â€ he said
He said the Nigerian Army has also made tremendous progress in the areas of professionalism, administration and cooperation among the sister Services and other security agencies.
â€œIn order to sustain this drive, I will ensure that we continue to embrace military regimentation so as to strengthen our cohesion and Service discipline. It is therefore my resolve to focus among others, on the custodians of unit regimentation, customs and traditions which laid in the roles played by the Regimental Sergeant Majors in the NA. In recognition of this fact, I intend to provide for them all necessary requirements that will enhance their confidence and competence in order to return them fully to the once prestigious roles and positions they occupy in military hierarchy.
â€œAs a first step today therefore, I will be providing staff cars for the AHQ and AHQ Gar RSMs as a mark of more to come towards recognizing and exalting their offices.I will follow up with a similar gesture to the Divisions and Corps RSMs,â€ he said
He said the aim was to return glory and fame to the erstwhile revered and exalted position of the RSMs and SNCOs in the Nigerian Army as essential, invaluable bridge between officers and soldiers.
â€œThe overall objective is to further develop and recognize the individual Nigerian Army soldier,â€ he added.
He recalled that on assumption of command, while addressing principal staff officers and field commanders, â€œI promised to promote merit, celebrate gallantry and honour our heroes.
â€œI also stated that the Nigerian Army will continue to recognize the sacrifices of such exceptional individuals. Therefore today, we will be honouring some of our officers and soldiers who have been outstanding in the line of duty by presenting them with the COAS Commendation Award.
â€œI therefore wish to congratulate these recipients of this year 2021 honours and awards.â€
He said they were singled out for recognition through a rigorous and transparent process.
â€œIt is therefore my hope that they will justify this rare recognition by sustaining the hard work and indeed even improving on it. To those who did not win any award today, I wish to acknowledge the efforts they have put in towards the development and upliftment of the Nigerian Army.
â€œI implore us to work harder and explore the numerous opportunities for the upliftment of the Army,â€ he stated.