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GOC CHARGES SOLDIERS ON CORDIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH CIVILIANS

By NBF News
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Officers and men of the 302 Artillery Regiment (General Support) and 14 Field Engineering Regiment, Onitsha Military cantonment, Anambra State have been charged to maintain the existing cordial relationship between the soldiers and their landlords.

The General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu, Major-General Mohammed Isah who gave the charge at the cantonment in Onitsha during the 2009 annual West African Social Activities (WASA), said the need for such a cordial relationship between the military and the civilains cannot be over-emphasized.

Isah who was accompanied by some senior military officers, maintained that the era of misunderstanding between soldiers and the civil populace had since become a thing of the past, particularly now that we are in a democracy.

The GOC, therefore, expressed satisfaction with the professional conduct of officers and men of the artillery and Army engineers, which he said was responsible for the good rapport between the soldiers and their Onitsha and Obosi landlords on the one hand, the soldiers and the state government on the other.

Earlier, the Commander of the Onitsha Military Cantonment, Col. P.A. Miri had explained that the history of WASA dated back to the days of the Colonial West African Frontier Forces (WAFF) during which a significant number of local persons from various background with diverse cultural heritage and traditional practices who were adjudged fit for military duties were recruited into the Army.

Miri further explained that during the beginning of planting seasons or harvests, sacrifices were usually offered to their respective gods and ancestors for bounty harvests or for peaceful and progressive new year. He said during the occasion, authority for the release of soldiers from their various units was usually sought by the traditional rulers and village heads, adding that instead of releasing soldiers yearly to perform these rituals, the military authority decided to incorporate the practice into the Army activities and christened it WASA.

According to the commander, 'today, as the Nigerian Army undergoes series of transformation, this tradition is still upheld in order to foster espirit-de-corps, enjoy the confidence of soldiers and bring together families of officers and soldiers at the end of every year, adding, it is customary in the Nigerian Armed Forces to take yearly stock of events and activities whenever the year is over.'

He said it was in that regard that the Nigerian Army is no exception in this annual stock taking, hence the military cantonment, Onitsha, housing the Gunners and Sappers, gathered and invited friends, well-wishers and colleagues to celebrate the stock taking in a grand style in commemoration of WASA 2009.