Today, January 15 is a significant day in Nigeria. The day is observed as the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, an annual event organised to honour members of the country’s armed forces who fought in the First and Second World Wars, as well as the Civil War and those who served or are still serving in various peace operations worldwide .
The day is to commemorate the war veterans and those currently engaged in the insurgency war in the northeast. It is to also create awareness and to celebrate both the living and the dead officers and men including those who suffered various disabilities in their service to their fatherland.
The day was initially marked on the eleventh of November every year to coincide with the Remembrance Day popularly known as “Poppy Day” or “11 – 11” for the First and Second World War veterans previously in all commonwealth countries. However, in Nigeria, as a result of some significant historical developments, it is celebrated on January 15 every year. January 15 1966 was when the country witnessed its first coup d’etat while another January 15, this time in 1970 was the day the Biafrans officially surrendered to Federal troops , thus signaling the end of the Nigerian Civil War.
From 1970 in particular , the day has become a national event when on every January 15 , military personnel including the Army, the Navy, the Air force and the Nigerian Legion converge in different centres across the nation to celebrate the day and give honour to the fallen and living heroes who put their lives at stake and continue to do so, for the territorial integrity of the nation, and for peace to reign globally. The event is held at the federal, state and local levels.
Beside parades, placing of wreaths and releasing of pigeons, the event also witnesses religious services in churches and mosques nationwide. At the launch of appeal fund for the 2020 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Fund, late last year, President Muhammadu Buhari enjoined Nigerians to continue to give their support to the military in their sacrifices to keep the nation united. The nation’s leader said the peace and security of Nigeria was non-negotiable and the security agencies must continue to do their work diligently. He promised that the Federal Government will continue to provide necessary logistical support to ensure that the nation’s armed forces operate with the best modern warfare equipment, while at the same time adequately addressing the issues of their welfare. “Likewise, government will remain steadfast in developing our alliances with neighbours and friends in the international community for the total defeat of the insurgents. The task of resettling and rehabilitating our citizens as well as the reconstruction of territories affected by the war will continue to be one of the priorities of this administration” the President noted.
Similarly Vice President Yemi Osinbajo commended the military for keeping the country safe and preserving it for future generation. Speaking at the 2020 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Church Service at the National Christian Centre in Abuja last Sunday, the VP said, “Their labour[of the nation’s armed forces] will never be in vain.”
While noting that the nation had not been fair to its legioners, Osinbajo said the government was determined to improve the lives of the military personnel.
He expressed the determination of the government to better the lives of the military men and officers by improving the budget of the armed forces.
Similarly the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, said armed forces men who died in active service should be regarded as martyrs, while their families should be given recognition.
Abiodun also spoke at the special church service to mark the 2020 Armed Forces Remembrance Day at the Cathedral Church of St. Peters, Ake, Abeokuta said the military martyrs paid the supreme sacrifice for Nigeria to remain one and for us to sleep with our two eyes closed.
He urged Nigerians to look around us, for widows , widowers and orphans of fallen soldiers with a view to supporting them. Meanwhile, Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State urged Nigerians to show love, support and pray for the wives and children of the military men who died during the service to their father land. Bayelsa state governor, Mr Seriake Dickson, last Sunday called on government at all levels to increase support to the armed forces and other security agencies to enable them perform their statutory duties effectively in the country.
Gov. Dickson noted that Nigeria would not be able to make appreciable progress in the fight against oil bunkering and other crimes if its armed forces were not well funded, equipped and trained.Governor Okezie Ikpeazu commended the armed forces for helping Nigeria to move forward. The governor, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Chris Ezem, said Abia State had remained peaceful and secured.He prayed to God to grant the family of the fallen heroes the fortitude to bear the loss of their relatives as they forge ahead.
We wish to join the rest of the country to salute our fallen heroes on this special day dedicated to their remembrance. The armed forces have no doubt remained the greatest vehicle for national unity and cohesion as a result of their gallantry and patriotism in various wars and conflicts. Nigerians should really use this day to give them due respect and support, worthy of deserving patriots and heroes, that they are.