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FG TO ADDRESS RETIREMENT IN THE MILITARY

By NBF News

The Federal Government said yesterday that it has initiated moves to address the bad blood growing in the military over retirement of some officers of the Armed Forces.

The Minister of Defence, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode said moves have been initiated to resolve the problems created by the retirement.

He spoke during the commissioning of the new Central Medical Stores Complex of the Nigerian Army in Yaba, explaining that a meeting of the top echelon of the military and the Ministry of Defence officials had been initiated to resolve the problem.

The House of Representatives recently had waded into the retirement of the senior military officers, ordering them not to abide by the retirement order. But the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Abdurahman Dambazau, had said any senior officer retired by Army authorities who felt his rights had been infringed upon was free to go to court to seek justice.

He said the terms and conditions of the service were duly applied in carrying out the retirements.

Dambazau had also noted at another forum that officers who were writing petitions to the National Assembly or elsewhere, knew the right thing to do on issues relating to retirement or otherwise.

But in Lagos, the minister who was represented by the Minister of State for Defence, Alhaji Murtala Shehu Yar'Adua, said the Ministry of Defence was working towards a developmental plan which would redefine the roles of the military to sustain democracy, meet the aspiration of Nigerians and respond to global challenges.

He said since the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria, the need to improve military professionalism had not only been frequently discussed, but had remained a commitment of the Ministry of Defence.

He said: 'As you all know, our Armed Forces have contributed immensely to international peace and security. Nigeria is today the fourth largest contributor of troops to United Nations Peace Support Operations. The Federal Government has consistently ensured that their training equipment and facilities are upgraded to international standards. It is in this vein that Mr. President approved funds for the upgrading of the Central Medical Stores Complex in Myhoung Barracks, Yaba, to United Nations level two stores standards.'

The minister also explained that efforts were on to procure new platforms such as modern troops carrying vehicles, helicopters and warships for the Army, Navy and Air Force, adding that improved welfare package was also being planned for the military. He declined to go into details but added that, 'our objective now is to transform our Armed Forces into a relatively compact, better skilled, more efficient and value- oriented one.'

Earlier, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Dambazau revealed that the construction of the new Medical Store was the first phase of the reconstruction of the Army Base Hospital, Yaba, to an ultramodern hospital, explaining that the plan was to ensure that the hospital was upgraded to level four United Nations standards similar to what was done at the force's hospital in Kaduna.

He commended the Nigerian Army Engineers for supporting the reconstruction process through its direct labour initiative saying the Ministry of Defence was working towards expanding the scope of the Army Engineers to include the reconstruction of war-ravaged countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone.