The Armed Forces and Remembrance Day celebration is an annual event organized to honour members of the Nigerian Armed Forces who fought in the first and second World Wars, and those who served or are still serving in various peace support operations world wide as well as those who fought in the Nigerian civil war. The Day is to celebrate both the dead and the living heroes including all those who suffered various deprivations as a result of Wars. The Day was initially marked on the eleventh of November every year to coincide with the Remembrance Day popularity known as “Poppy Day” or “11 – 11” for the first and Second World War veterans in all commonwealth countries. However, in Nigeria, in view of some significant historical developments, it is celebrated on the 15th of January every year.
This is symbolic as it is on this date in 1966 that the first shot was fired to commence the Nigerian Civil War and the quest to keep the nation one. As the nation marks the Day today, it is important to that the dead as well as the living heroes that is “ex-servicemen” have children and other dependants to cater for. While some ex-servicemen are well off, majority of them find it difficult to make ends meet. The celebration is therefore, a unique occasion for the government and the society to soberly reflect on the plight of the dead and the living heroes with a resolve to find a lasting solution to their predicament. Some of these heroes served right from the time of the Lagos Constabulary, Royal West African Frontiers Force, Southern and Nortehrn Regiments, the Royal Nigerian Army and now the Nigerian Armed Forces. As the day is being celebrated an important event killed to take place is the launch of the emblem and appeal fund.
One of the objectives of the emblem and appeal fund is to provide Nigerians with the golden opportunity of giving financial and material support to the families of our fallen heroes as well as the veterans who survived various military operations. Not forgetting that some sustained degrees of injuries that had rendered them handicapped. Another objective is to raise funds for the dependents of those who died in active service, and for the survival of the Nigerian Legion, which is the umbrella body for the veterans. In this regard, as we praise the fallen as well as the living heroes, we must pause to think about the plight of their wives, children and other dependants who are in dire need of assistance. Recently, the Ministry of Defence introduced a Barrack economic empowerment programme aimed at reducing idleness in Barrack communities and empowering them with farming and business skills. It will be necessary for this commendable initiative to be extended to ex-servicemen or the dependants of the late heroes of wars.
This would go a long way in raising their standard of living. In the same vein, State governments should encourage the programme by donating lands to the legionaries for business and farming activities. Also, a better system should be put in place to solve the perennial problems associated with their pensions. It would also be worth the while to graciously include the Biafra soldiers who fought in the Nigerian Civil War in the military pension scheme, especially as the nation is seeking ways of achieving lasting unity and harmony. Another area of concern should be that of the pledges made during the emblem and appeal fund launch across the country. Statistics show that majority of the pledges have not been redeemed. Nigerians should truly be their brothers keeper by fulfilling their promises and paying the pledges. It would be a step in the right direction for the Federal government to allocate some funds to the Nigerian Legion yearly to assist the members to live decent lives.
As we celebrate this year’s Armed Forces and Remembrance Day, Nigerians should donate generously to support family members and dependants of the fallen heroes as well as the ones still alive as they gave their lives so that we could live in peace today.
Source:recorded live from FRCN daily commentary