Chris Steven, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday, praised the gallantry roles of the Nigerian armed forces in curbing the menance of terrorism in the country.
Buhari who was joined by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other top military personnel in laying wreaths in honour of fallen heroes,said the armed forces have distinguished themselves in no small measure and Nigerians would eternally remain grateful for this feat.
He said this in commemoration of the 2017 Armed Forces Remembrance day,when he spoke via video conferencing to Major General Victor Ezugwu, Acting GOC, 7 Division, Nigerian Army (Sambisa Forest).
He said,”You have done Nigeria a great pride. Your success was received spontaneously by all Nigerians. I congratulate you and thank you very much for the honour done to the country and to us. Well done! I wish you and your families well and I hope that you are in touch with your families. I wish you more success and please maintain the standard of discipline and efficiency. Thank you very much indeed”.
The Armed Forces Remembrance day is an annual event observed, every January 15th in honour of dead and surviving uniformed personnel drawn from the Nigerian Army,Navy,Airforce,Police and ex-service men,referred to as Legions.
The wreaths-laying ceremony held at the National Arcade in the Three Arms Zone in Abuja.
Meanwhile, the United Nations have given indications that it would be winding down its operations in Liberia and the last batch of troops deplored for peace keeping in the country would be returning home to their families latest 2018.
The information came to the fore while Buhari was having a separate phone chat with Major General Salihu Uba, Force Commander for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
Buhari who was astonished for the seamless communication with the troops,said the military has kept the flag flying on behalf of the United Nations.
“We thank God and we thank technology. I can see you and I can hear you. I am impressed with the turnout of your men and I thank you for keeping the flag flying on the performance of Nigerian military in the United Nations peacekeeping operations. God willing as you briefed us, in 2018, the last contingent of Nigeria troops in Liberia will come back. I sincerely wish them a successful operation and I wish the General the best of luck,”he said.
The 2017 commemorative activity marked the second time President Buhari as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces would be laying wreath in honour of the fallen heroes in a democratic setting.
Prior to the event,the sales of emblem and launch of an appeal fund had been done by the Vice President.
The brief ceremony started at 10.00 a.m. with Buhari first inspecting the guard of honour.
Christian and Muslim prayers were offered for the departed souls,including peace and sustenance of the country.
Gun salute from the guards brigade then followed the wreath-laying ceremony.
President Buhari then signed the register and led the dignitaries to release white pigeons to symbolize peace and liberation of the country.
Among those that laid wreaths, includes the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, Minister of Defence, Dan Ali Mansur and Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai.
Others were Chief of Naval Staff,Ibok Ekwe Ibas,Chief of Air Staff,Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar,Inspector General of Police,Ibrahim Idris and National Chairman of the Nigerian Legion, Col Micah Gaya (Rtd).
Top politicians who graced the occassion but did not lay wreaths, included the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress(APC) John Odigie-Oyegun,Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Mohammed Bello,Minister of Budget and National Planning,Sen Udoma Udo Udoma,Minister of Solid Minerals,Kayode Fayemi,Minister of Transport,Rotimi Amaechi,Senate Minority Leader,Godswill Akpabio,former Governor of Benue State,George Akume among others were in attendance.
In a related development,the wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has offered prayers for families of troops who have died in the line of duty.
In her prayers,she said the labour, love and sacrifices of the fallen heroes would never be in vain.
Mrs Buhari’s prayers were conveyed in a message through her face book page in Abuja on Sunday,where she expressed optimism that the time had come when Nigeria would be free from terrorism.
“As we remember our fallen heroes today, I pray for those they left behind; our heroes will never be forgotten.
“Their labours and sacrifices will not be in vain.
“I pray that the time has come when there will be zero terrorism and insurgency in our land.
“To our gallant troops who had fought and still fighting to restore peace, I say thank you,” she prayed.