1. It is a great honour and privilege for me to, on behalf of officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army heartily welcome our Special Guest of Honour, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senate President, Speaker House of Representatives and other Distinguished members of the National Assembly, Honourable Ministers of Defence and FCT. I am particularly delighted and honoured to have 7 past Service Chiefs here present at the Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) 2021 taking place at the Command Officers’ Mess 1, Abuja. Indeed, your kind presence has added colour, glamour and pride to our celebration.
2. This day, 6 July is of great significance in the history of the NA and indeed Nigeria. It was on this date in 1967 that the first shot was fired at Garkem, a border town in present day Cross River State, in what turned out to be the unfortunate 30-months Nigerian Civil War. In view of the significant role the NA played in the resolution of the crisis, this date was chosen and set aside not only to keep her history alive, but also to project and educate members of the public on the activities of the NA. It also affords us the opportunity to showcase our contributions to the socio-economic and political developments of Nigeria. This celebration is also important because of its role as a constant reminder of the sacrifices the NA has continued to make to keep Nigeria a united and indivisible nation. Additionally, while reflecting on the past, NADCEL presents opportunity for the NA to also deliberate on its future by fine tuning and redirecting its efforts to remain in perfect harmony with its constitutional responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria and its Constitution. It is against this background and in line with my vision for the NA, that the theme for this year’s celebration “A PROFESSIONAL AND READY ARMY: A PRE-REQUISITE FOR SUCCESSFUL OPERATIONS IN A JOINT ENVIRONMENT” was chosen. This year’s celebration is low key, due to the unfortunate and sad development that led to the death of my predecessor, the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 others in a plane mishap on Friday 21 May 2021 in Kaduna. May their souls continue to rest in perfect peace, Amen.
3. Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate your esteemed presence at this event, which is the climax of a week-long activities marking NADCEL 2021. Within the past 4 days, we were busy with other activities such as COAS Press Briefing, Jumaat Prayers and Interdenominational Church Service. Others include Nigerian Army Officers’ Wives Association Humanitarian Outreach and Nigerian Army Free Medical Outreach held across all Formation and units across the country. Today being the Grand Finale of NADCEL 2021, our lined up activities include Lectures to be presented by carefully selected erudite scholars, as well as the Chief of Army Staff Honours and Awards ceremony. Given the solemn mood we are in, this honors and awards ceremony is necessitated by the need for us to encourage our officers and soldiers who are exemplary.
4. I am glad to inform you that the Nigerian Army has come a long way and living up to its assigned constitutional duties, especially as regards to contribution to global security through peacekeeping and internal security operations. For the past one month or thereabout, the Nigerian Army has been repositioning itself, as an Army ready to accomplish assigned missions within a joint environment in the defence of our dear nation. It is through our concerted efforts that the activities of insurgents, terrorists secessionist and other violent criminal elements that threatened the very corporate existence of this country have been greatly reduced.
5. Distinguished invited guest, as we celebrate NADCEL today, permit me to state that, the Nigerian Army has also made tremendous progress in the areas of professionalism, administration and cooperation among the sister Services and other security agencies. In order to sustain this drive, I will ensure that we continue to embrace military regimentation so as to strengthen our cohesion and Service discipline. It is therefore my resolve to focus among others, on the custodians of unit regimentation, customs and traditions which laid in the roles played by the Regimental Sergeant Majors in the NA. In recognition of this fact, I intend to provide for them all necessary requirements that will enhance their confidence and competence in order to return them fully to the once prestigious roles and positions they occupy in military hierarchy. As a first step today therefore, I will be providing staff cars for the AHQ and AHQ Gar RSMs as a mark of more to come towards recognizing and exalting their offices. I will follow up with a similar gesture to the Divisions and Corps RSMs. It is my intent to cascade down in similar manner to Bdes and Units RSMs. My aim is to return glory and fame to the erstwhile revered and exalted position of the RSMs and SNCOs in the Nigerian Army as essential, invaluable bridge between officers and soldiers. The overall objective is to further develop and recognize the individual Nigerian Army soldier.
6. It may also recall that on my assumption of command, while addressing principal staff officers and field commanders, I promised to promote merit, celebrate gallantry and honour our heroes. I also stated that the Nigerian Army will continue to recognize the sacrifices of such exceptional individuals. Therefore today, we will be honouring some of our officers and soldiers who have been outstanding in the line of duty by presenting them with the COAS Commendation Award.
7. I therefore wish to congratulate these recipients of this year 2021 honours and awards. I must say that they were singled out for recognition through a rigorous and transparent process. It is therefore my hope that they will justify this rare recognition by sustaining the hard work and indeed even improving on it. To those who did not win any award today, I wish to acknowledge the efforts they have put in towards the development and upliftment of the Nigerian Army. I implore us to work harder and explore the numerous opportunities for the upliftment of the Army.
8. On this note, let me heartily thank and appreciate all the distinguished personalities here today who honoured us with their eminence presence. I wish to appreciate all retired senior officers and particularly my predecessors, the past Service Chiefs who have always shown care and concern on the affairs of the Nigerian Army. They always call me for advice and guidance and availed me their invaluable inputs and views towards enhancing our operations and activities. This I very much cherish and appreciate and request them to please continue with their magnanimity of allowing to drink from their fountain of knowledge and wealth of experience. I Indeed appreciate them and their keen interest in the affairs and well being of the Nigerian Army. I also appreciate all other senior officers both serving and retired who continue to make inputs for the development of the Nigerian Army.
9. I wish to particularly thank and appreciate the Honourable Minister of Defence, Maj Gen Bashir Salihi Magashi for his continuous support and guidance at all times. I also thank the Senate President, Speaker House of Representatives, members of the National Assembly, the Honourable Minister for FCT and indeed all Nigerians for their kind support, encouragement and understanding. I equally appreciate the Chief of Defence Staff Gen LEO Irabor for the leadership and guidance and the other Service Chiefs for their support and cooperation. I also appreciate the IGP as well as all other security agencies, services and stakeholders for their support and cooperation. We are already seeing and reaping from the benefits and our synergy and cooperation.
10. Finally, I want to seize this opportunity to convey our sincere gratitude to Mr. President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for his confidence in the Nigerian Army and his untiring support and motivation. I wish to use this platform to reiterate our unalloyed loyalty to the Commander-in-Chief and to assure all Nigerians of our continuous support to democratic governance in this country.
11. Thank you all and God bless.