President Muhammadu Buhari, Tuesday, commended the Nigerian Army for saving the country from disintegration and demonstrating a high level of professionalism in its operations.
The President however charged the Army to evolve new methods of winning the support and confidence of Nigerians.
According to Buhari who spoke at the occasion of the Nigerian Army Day Celebration, “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.
“I nevertheless, charge the officers and men of the Nigerian Army to be proactive in evolving new strategies, methods and techniques of winning the hearts and minds in the current phase of operations also urge you 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 your current efforts.”
The President who was represented by the Minister of Defence, Major General Salihi Magashi (rtd), said “the Nigerian Army has had a relatively long history dating back to (8367). Throughout the colonial era, the Army was used primarily for internal and for expeditionary operations. In its internal security role, the Army served as an instrument of colonial subjugation while in its expeditionary role, it was used in World Wars 1 and 2 as part of the Allied Forces that defeated Nazi Germany. It fought gallantly during the civil war to safeguard the unity of our dear nation and to guarantee our collective peace and security”.
He continued that, “I am particularly happy to note that despite the Army’s involvement in politics, it has since 1999 remained a highly professional Army subordinated to democratic civilian control. The Nigerian Army as part of the larger Armed Forces has continued to discharge its constitutional roles with great success. It is to the credit of the Army that despite the current internal security challenges, the nation’s commitments to regional and international peace and security remain unshaken.
“1 am particularly happy to note 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 Northeast. This joint effort 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, would like to thank all meaning Nigerians for their support and understanding.
“This Government appreciates and commends recent efforts by individuals, community members, traditional leaders and numerous civil society organizations especially the youths that are cooperating and supporting the security agencies in exposing all agents of destruction and instability in our polity. As a responsible Government, we are conscious of the challenges being faced by the citizenry would like to assure you that these would be resolved in the shortest possible time.
“Distinguished guests, ladies and Gentlemen, this 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.
“I 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. I am highly impressed with the conduct of operations that flushed out the terrorists and criminals from their strongholds.”
In his remarks, the Chief of Army, Major General Farouk Yahaya, noted that “this day, 6 July is of great significance in the history of the NA and indeed Nigeria. 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.
“In view of the significant role the NA played in the resolution of the crisis, 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. It 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”
He added that “additionally, while reflecting on the past, NADCEL presents an 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. It is against this background and in line with my vision for the NA, that the theme for this year’s celebration “A PROFESSIONAL AND READY ARMY: A PREREQUISITE FOR SUCCESSFUL OPERATIONS IN A JOINT ENVIRONMENT’ was chosen.
“This year’s celebration is low key, due to the unfortunate and sad development that led to the death of my predecessor, the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 others in a plane mishap on Friday 21 May 2021 in Kaduna.”