Army Chief Honours Retired Soldiers

…says “we count on your experience to end war against insurgency”

By: Okosun Dennis

It was all glamour and jollification at the Command Secondary School (CDSS) Hall, Ikeja Cantonment on Saturday as the Chief of Army Staff, (COAS), Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya poured unlimited ecomium on some retired Senior Non-Commissoned Soldiers of the Nigerian Army for their invaluable contributions to the sustainance of peace and unity of the country.

He noted that there are ongoing efforts to reengage some qualified retired personnel in order to continue to benefit from their wealth of experiences and professionalism garnered over the years, noting “Your experience is relevant to our armed forces in numerous ongoing operations.”

The COAS, who was represented by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division, Major General Umar Thema Musa acknowledged in his Goodwill message that the decision to organize a Valedictory Buffet Luncheon in honour of discharged soldiers from the Nigerian Army in 2021 was to express their joy and appreciation to the soldiers for service to their father land.

According to him, “This is the maiden edition of a Special Buffet Luncheon in honour of retiring soldiers. But due to the precarious security situation which bedeviled our country for over one decade, will not permit it. The event has come to stay and has been codified as a yearly occurrence in all formations.

“In 2021, a dinner was organised for Brigadier Generals and Major Generals to honour them for serving the country meritoriously and honourably. I assure you that Nigerian Army remain grateful for your service rendered in defence of our Fatherland. I urge you not to rest in your oars until this war is brought to an end.

“However, I urge you to shun all forms of misconduct capable of bringing the Army to disrepute in retirement. You are seen as Ambassador of the Nigerian Army. You may be going into retirement but the soldiers in you should never be tired,” Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya reiterated in his Goodwill message to all the retiring soldiers.

Also in his Goodwill message as the Special Guest of Honour, the Commandant, Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre (NAFRC), Air Vice Marshal Idi Gamso Lubo, who was represented by the Deputy Commandant, Maj Gen Sunday Igbinomwanhia applauded the soldiers for their invaluable contributions, support and serving without blemish.

He reminded them that they are now consultants in security matters having done the practical aspects – contributing to security operations in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Yugoslavia.

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“As we are engaged in anti-insurgency operation, the solution may come from you. Your strategies, ideas are welcomed. Take your personal security seriously as all eyes are on you as a retired soldier.”

In an interview with our correspondent, one of the retiring soldier, Master Warrant Officer Edward Onyechieze said he served for 35 years with unblemished and exemplary conduct; describing his military career as “unique, special with lots of professional hazards.”

He reflected on his close romance with death in Liberia when a bullet went into his chest and how he put his fingers into the hole and plucked it out; held it and walked with his legs to the Medical Reception Station (MRS).

“The battle in Liberia, Sierra Leone, the situation in Gambia, down to Sudan, the Afghanistan camp destruction, Bakassi situation were highpoints in my career. There were lots of challenges and I thank God I came out unstratched. We own the glory to the Almighty God even though we lost a lot of my colleagues,” MWO Edward, an Attorney at Law narrated.

To Mrs Zincwari Ayaoba, who represented her husband expressed joy for the honour done the husband and their colleagues by the army authority.

Sharing her experiences as a wife to a soldier, she explained that “When you marry a soldier, whatever you see, you take. There are so many challenges but hold on to God because your husband can be away for over a year in an operation, you must hold the ground and take care of the home and pray for his survival,” she enthused.

While rendering his vote of thanks on behalf of the retired soldiers, Army Warrant Officer Okonkwo Ignatius described the buffet luncheon as “First in history.” He observed that COAS, Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya has “laid a landmark” which they so much appreciated.

“We thank you for given us a sense of belonging and to all your subordinates. We thanked the GOC, Maj Gen Umar Musa; the 9 Brigade Commander, Brig Gen Isang Akpaumontia; the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Abiodun Alabi, the traditional ruler, Oba of Onigbogbon, other officers and soldiers for honouring us.

The well attended luncheon saw the retired soldiers with their family members cladded in different native attires with different embroidery.

Highpoint of the luncheon was the presentation of souvenirs/hononarium to all the retired soldiers from the Nigerian Army in 2021.

Post Author: Friday Ekeoba