Nigeria’s general elections scheduled for the first quarter of 2023 should be crisis free if the assurance given by the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, is anything to go by.
The CDS on Sunday declared that the Nigerian military was ready to give necessary back up support to the Nigerian Police and other internal security agencies to ensure a smooth electoral process in the country this year.
Speaking after laying the wreath at the National Arcade, Abuja to mark the 2023 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration, the four-star General told Nigerians “be rest assured that the armed forces will remain solidly behind the police to give them all the support as required for the 2023 general elections”.
Fielding questions from newsmen about the military’s readiness for the forthcoming polls, the CDS said although the police will remain the frontline security outfit during the election, the armed forces will support it from the rear.
His words: “I’m sure you know, that the police are on the lead. I have been discussing with the IG (Inspector-General of Police) and of course, we’ve also made contingencies should we be required to give support to the police as the election is conducted?
“I think for Nigerians, be rest assured that the armed forces remain solidly behind the police to be able to give them all the support as required”.
He also assured Nigerians that the country’s democracy faces no threat from a military coup as witnessed recently in some West African states.
“Democracy has come to stay. Government of the people, by the people and for the people in Nigeria has come to stay. That is an assurance.”
The Defense Chief also described the ceremony as an occasion of gratitude that some Nigerians deemed their country was worth dying for.
According to him, the annual occasion emboldens members of the Armed Forces to play their part in defending their country.
He said: “Remembrance Day celebration is not a day of mourning. It is the day that we need to give thanks to God; that men and women of this great nation once served, are serving and will continue to serve this country.
“That we have that level of love for country that men and women have committed to and, if need be, sacrifice their lives so that the rest of us can be alive. I think it’s a worthy thing.
“The fact that one has been appreciated, motivates. And I think that is the message that has gone across the length and breadth of the members of the armed forces. So, we’re more motivated to continue to play our part”.
Widow of a fallen soldier, Cynthia Ubah, also on Sunday called for speedy processing of the life insurance benefits and other entitlements due their grieving families.
Cynthia, who is the widow of Nigerian Air Force Squadron Leader Victor Ubah who was killed in an ambush during a joint operation in Kebbi Stateon July 7 2021, emphasized that though she received her late husband’s benefits within one month of his demise, other late military personnel’s families have not been so fortunate.
She said: “It has started taking a longer time to compensate the families. Before, it used to take a shorter while. Now? Families have to wait, keep waiting and keep calling.
“Mine didn’t take time thankfully. But I have seen others in this situation and they’ve been complaining that it has taken them a very long time. Mine was between a month or two.
“But for some, it’s stretching to nine months to a year now. Which is really not telling good on them. But I believe they (the military) are doing their best. Hopefully they get to settle these people.”
Cynthia said the remembrace ceremony is a message to her and the families of other slain soldiers that their loved ones did not die in vain.
Earlier on Sunday, President Muhammadu Buhari reviewed the last Armed Forces Remembrance Day as Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces as his eight-year tenure as President ends on May 29, 2023.
He led senior government officials at the wreath-laying ceremony to mark the finale of this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration.
President Buhari who arrived at the National Arcade at about 10:05 am was immediately ushered into the saluting dais for the National Salute.
He also inspected the Guards of Honour, accompanied by the Commander, Brigade of Guards, Major General Muhammad Usman, after which he proceeded to the Cenotaph for the wreath-laying Ceremony.
Prayers were offered for the departed and their families by the Director Nigerian Navy Religious Affairs, Commander Robert Oparaji, Director of Islamic Affairs, Nigerian Airforce, Air Commodore Luqman Abiodun and acting Director Chaplain Services, Nigerian Army, Lt. Col. Bilson Newton.
During the prayers for the fallen heroes and veterans, the clerics also prayed for peaceful elections and transition of power as well as a United Nigeria.
Other dignitaries who laid wreaths after the President include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola.
Others include the pair of the Ministers of Defense and the Federal Capital Territory, Maj General Bashir Magashi (rtd) and Muhammed Bello, respectively; the Chief of Defense Staff, General Lucky Irabor and the service chiefs and well as the Inspector-General General of Police, Usman Baba; representatives of the Diplomatic Corps; and the pair of the Chairman of the Nigerian Legion and widow of a fallen soldier, Cynthia Ubah.
Also in attendance were members of the Federal Executive Council, including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; the President’s Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari; the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno (rtd); among other top government officials.
President Buhari also performed the symbolic freeing of white doves out of the cage during the event.