GOVERNOR Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State on Thursday, January 7, said the Nigerian society must device means to reward and support war veterans for their roles in keeping the nation together always, and not annually.
Aregbesola, while launching the emblem to commemorate year 2016 Armed Forces remembrance Day at the banquet hall of the Government House, Oshogbo, capital of Osun State, stated that veterans should not be made to regret serving their fatherland.
He noted that the least that Nigerians and government could do was to keep the memory of the soldiers alive, supporting those that were still active and taking adequate care of the families of the departed ones.
The Governor said: “They must be well supported, they took up soldering as a divine call, or else they could have taken to other more lucrative and less tasking vocations. They should not be made to regret serving their fatherland in its defence.
“In other lands, stores give them special discounts; those returning to school have their tuition fees slashed while veterans are given free passes to gated events. In several instances, they enjoy free medical care and other social services.”
He lamented the engagement of veterans for sentry duties, saying it was not enough and in many cases could amount to under utilisation of resources.
Aregbesola said some of them could be engaged productively and maximally as most of them had acquired advanced skills in many vocations that could be deployed into nation building and development.
“Those of them with combat experience can be re-programmed and put in a special police units needed to engage armed bandits and other violent criminals in our urban centres. They will be glad to resume their defence duties in civilian capacities,” he said.
The governor said that the emblem being launched was a reminder of their service and sacrifice, hence an obligation on Nigerians to support them.
He enjoined all to encourage the effort by wearing the emblem with pride during the week of remembrance, saying President Muhammadu Buhari had urged Nigerians and visitors to wear the emblem throughout this week.
Earlier, Alimi Samotu, a retired colonel and deputy commandant-general, who also doubles as chairman, Nigerian Legion Osun, commended Governor Aregbesola for his fatherly assistance towards the plights of the legion since inception of his administration.
Samotu, while speaking on the significance and plight of ex-servicemen, said that the Armed Forces Remembrance Day Appeal Week had become a familiar event set aside by Nigeria to express concern and appreciation for the fallen heroes.
He said the fallen heroes must be forever remembered because of the supreme sacrifice they made particularly during the Nigerian Civil War.
“The gallant fighters lost their lives on the battle field without a farewell to their families and other dependants and many who did not die became maimed. They suffered from mental degradation and all other forms of evils of war.
“While remembering the Fallen Heroes today, we must as a matter of responsibility, remember their dependants, their children, the aged and those Ex-servicemen who had been maimed in the course of defending their fatherland,” Samotu said.
— Jan 18, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT