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We Are in Nigeria to Lift Morale of Injured Soldiers, Say Prince Harry, Megan 

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan engaged with military families, emphasising support for wounded soldiers during their three-day Nigeria visit.

Members of the British Royal Family, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, on Friday, met with the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Christopher Musa at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja.

Also on Friday, at a reception by Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State for Harry at the Government House in Kaduna, the Prince said he and his wife were in Nigeria to put smile back on faces of wounded soldiers and lift their sprits.

In his remarks at Kaduna, Harry said, the focused of his trip was on the wounded Nigerian soldiers.

He said his wife Meghan couldn’t accompany him to Kaduna because she was holding series of meetings in Abuja.

“Thank you for everything that you do as  service to this community.

“Focus of this trip is obviously the wounded Nigerian forces, men and women who served in the Nigerian forces to keep people safe and having founded  the Invictus games over 10 years ago, Nigeria was the first African nation to join last year in Germany with 10 fantastic human beings.

“And as we had a conversation with the chief of defence staff a few hours earlier, he acknowledged the smiles on their faces and the fact that opportunity,  that moment of being part of the Invictus community put  a smile back on their faces.

“So when you talk about lifting the spirit,  that is what we are here to do.

“We will build on that morale that anyone that is put in the line of fire with their lives despite injury is not over, he said.

Earlier, the Kaduna State Governor said the Prince’s pursuit of good causes, aligned with his life’s long activism for improvement in the condition of the poor.

Sani said: “I am extremely delighted to welcome Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, to Kaduna State, the heartbeat of Northern Nigeria and Nigeria’s Centre of Learning.

“Your visit reminds us of another happy event 68 years ago, when Queen Elizabeth II, your grandmother, was welcomed to Kaduna on 2nd February, 1956, by our revered leader, the Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello (of blessed memory)”, the governor said.

The governor described the Prince as, “a symbol of courage, perseverance, compassion, and the oneness of humanity” and commended him for his selfless service to the United Kingdom and humanity.

“You made your mark in the United Kingdom’s Airforce, attaining the rank of Captain.

“Despite your privileged upbringing and position in the Royal Family, you opted to go to the battlefield in the service of your country.

“You are an inspiration to the youths and an epitome of patriotism.”

He also lauded the Prince for his exemplary activism in the area of wildlife conservation,  especially in Africa.

“You also helped found a Charity for children in Lesotho. In sports, you founded the Invictus Games, an international sporting competition for injured and sick veterans and service people.

“Your life-long pursuit of good causes aligns with my own life – long activism for improvement in the conditions of the poor, vulnerable and underserved in our society.

“As governor, I have committed myself to bringing hope to the weak and vulnerable”, Sani said.

He said Nigeria and the United Kingdom have had long-standing relationship.

He said,  “In the forging of Nigeria – British relations, Kaduna hosted some of the most prominent political and administrative officers from colonial times to the attainment of Nigeria’s independence in 1960.”

The governor  noted that the first British Governor of Northern Nigeria, Sir Frederick Lugard, chose to operate from Kaduna due to its proximity to the Lagos – Kano Railway.

He said Kaduna became the capital of the defunct Northern Nigeria in 1917 adding that “to date, Kaduna remains the political and cultural capital of Northern Nigeria”.

The governor added that Kaduna is home to many military formations, including the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) and the Command and Staff College, Jaji, among many others.

Earlier, at Abuja, at the meeting with the CDS, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were accorded a warm reception.

They were received by the wife of the Chief of Defence Staff, Oghogho Musa and wife of the Chief of Army Staff, Mrs. Taoreed Lagbaja.

The duo and their entourage arrived the Defence Headquarters at 12 noon where the Duke inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Defence Headquarters.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan were also entertained by cultural dance troupes.

The visitors later proceeded to a private meeting with the Chief of Defence Staff.

After 30 minutes, they were later seen off by the Chief of Defence Staff.

The royal couple’s visit coincided with the 10th Anniversary of the Invictus Games, a sporting event championed by Prince Harry to support injured servicemen and women.

Prince Harry, who served in Afghanistan, founded the Invictus Games in 2014.

The games offer wounded veterans and service members the opportunity to compete in sports events, notably, paralympics, promoting physical and mental recovery.

During their three-day stay, the royal couple would engage with wounded soldiers and their families, stressing the importance of ongoing support for military personnel.

Nigeria’s participation in last year’s edition of the Invictus Games underlined the nation’s commitment to the well-being of its armed forces.

The schedule of the royal couple’s   second day in Nigeria includes a training session to be conducted by a Nigerian non-profit that works closely with the Invictus Games Foundation and a reception hosted by the Chief of Defence Staff in honor of military families. 

There would also be an exhibition of sitting volleyball match where the CDS will lead one team and Prince Harry will lead another.

In the afternoon, the Duchess of Sussex would co-host an event with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organisation, about women in leadership.

Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja on Thursday, the Director of Defence Sports, Air Vice Marshal Marquis Abidemi, had said the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was on the invitation extended to the royals by Musa.

“Nigeria is now a member of the Invictus community, so their coming will give credence to the fact that as a new part of the community, Nigeria needs to be accepted.

“That Nigeria is also looking forward to hosting an Invictus Games,” he had said.

Kingsley Nwezeh and John Shiklam

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