As We Celebrate The Fallen Heroes…

Source: Olugbenga Faseluka, Ph.D

The Armed Forces Remembrance Day is an annual global event to honour the men of the Armed Forces who fought in various wars to maintain the peaceful co-existence of human race. Many countries, particularly members of the Commonwealth of Nations, mark the day on 11th November of each year being the watershed of the First and Second World Wars.

Nigeria however later opted for the 15th January date to commemorate

the end of the Nigerian Civil War because of its significance to our

national history. On that date in 1970, the Biafran troops formally

surrendered to the Nigerian Forces thus ending the bitter 30 months

civil war which started in 1967.
Celebrating the gallantry of the men and officers of the Nigerian

Armed Forces at various battle fields and military operations across

the world is a worthy national event. Even under the colonial rule,

and in spite of the indignation of white soldiers towards their black

counterparts, Nigerian soldiers played prominent roles, displaying

uncommon bravery during the World War I from 1914 to 1918 and World

War II from 1939 to 1945. But this was a child’s play compared with

the Armed Forces’ spirited defence of the nation’s territorial

integrity when, seven years after Independence, Nigeria was embroiled

in the avoidable Civil War that gravely threatened her very foundation

as a nation. These heroes displayed no less gallantry in many

peacekeeping operations across the continents of the world. The

singular objective of these military engagements is to maintain

peaceful co-existence of human race without which the ordinary people

including you and I would be at risk.
While on these military campaigns, many soldiers sacrificed their

lives, many more, though still alive, lost all the features of a

normal human character. The gory experience on the battle fields left

a good number of them in psychological traumas in which they are

condemned to live throughout their lives. Yet, many hitherto

congenial family lives were disrupted without remedy. The dependants

of the heroes are the worst hit as deprivation of love and care

continue to give them rough edges of life. All these personal losses

were ironically their rewards for a patriotic response to a national

call to defend our national identity and corporate existence.

The theme of the 2016 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, Motivating the

Nigerian Armed Forces for effective service delivery is therefore apt

considering the need to assure these patriots of our acknowledgement

of their sacrifices. The current efforts at stemming the security

challenges in the country truly call for innovative ways to motivate

the soldiers to do more at these unusual times. Until recently, the

possibility of suicide bombing in Nigeria was a tale in tragicomic

books. The acts of terrorism as witnessed today are a strange

phenomenon that few people dreamt of less than a decade ago.

Unfortunately, terrorism – an undesirable guest – will appear to have

taken position on our shores.
It is saddening to note that the officers and men of the Nigerian

Armed Forces who regularly receive accolades for outstanding

performances at peacekeeping operations around the world, in Burma

(India), Lebanon, Congo, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast etc, are writhing

under the pressures of a ragtag band of Boko Haram insurgents at the

home front. It is not only ironic, it is painfully pathetic.

In this circumstance therefore, the nation needs to walk the talk of

this year’s theme. Everything must be done to encourage the Armed

forces to step up efforts at defending the territorial integrity of

the country at all times. This must begin with the provision of

adequate equipment and minimum necessary resources to mobilise against

the enemies of the State. It is therefore condemnable that Fund meant

for the procurement of ammunition could be tampered with at a time

when our country is facing an internal insurrection.

As noted by His Excellency, the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Peter

Ayodele Fayose at the 2016 Emblem Launch, remembering the heroes goes

beyond sympathy, we all have to support them in all ramifications.

This captures it all and does not exclude anyone.
Unfortunately, this is the aspect of the Remembrance Day that has

often been largely ignored. For instance, what are we doing as a

people for the families of the heroes who were cut down on the

battlefields in their prime? What are the effective and sustainable

welfare packages for their widows and children? There had been cases

of the families of dead officers being ejected unceremoniously from

official quarters shortly after their burial. What about many of their

children who had to drop out of schools? What is the society

consciously doing for those who came back home with terminal wounds?

Those who survived these all still had to contend with irregular

It is time for the Government to transcend from the annual ritual of

remembering the fallen and surviving heroes by beautiful speeches,

well painted cenotaphs and other ceremonial glamours. A comprehensive

and sustainable welfare package tailored towards addressing the many

woes of the disengaged soldiers and families of the dead should be

established without further delay.
Corporate organizations, non-governmental organizations and public spirited individuals should be encouraged to contribute towards ensuring stable lives for the

soldiers and their family members. In so doing, serving men and

officers of Armed Forces would be further motivated to serve their

nation with more dedication and selfless devotion. We need this so

that the common man can be protected from the activities of criminally

minded individuals and groups plotting the territorial disintegration

of our commonwealth.
Dr. Olugbenga Faseluka is the Head of Service, Ekiti State

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