Significance of Armed Forces Remembrance Day in Nigeria
The Armed Forces Remembrance Day is an annual event organised to honour members of the Nigerian Armed Forces. The anniversary is used to remember members of the Nigerian military who fought in the First and Second World War, the Nigerian civil war and those who have served and are serving in various peacekeeping missions worldwide.
President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo exchange pleasantries at the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
On this day, military personnel like the Army, the Navy, the Air force and the Nigerian legion converge in different places across the country to give honour to the fallen heroes who risked their lives for the safety of the country. They also to honour those who are still on the front lines fighting for the survival of the country.
It was formerly celebrated on 11 November, to coincide with the Remembrance Day (Poppy Day) for World War II veterans in the British Commonwealth of Nations. It was however changed to 15th January in Nigeria in commemoration of the surrender of Biafran troops to the Federal troops on 15th January 1970, which brought an end to the Nigerian civil war.
There is usually a Remembrance Day Parade where pigeons are released to symbolise peace, placing of wreaths on cenotaphs, shooting of guns and other activities to symbolise this day. The event also witnesses religious activities in churches and mosques nationwide. Also, an emblem is usually worn by the President, top government officials, members of the Armed forces and private individuals who wish to buy one. This is to help raise money for the Nigerian legion.
President Buhari releases pigeons at the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day
Although the Armed Forces Remembrance Day has been observed annually, it is still of no significance to a lot of Nigerian citizens. This is not really a deliberate measure on their part but it is the lack of publicity by the government and the fact that most ceremonies are limited to a select few.
It will, therefore, be better if the Armed Forces Remembrance Day is observed as a public holiday to honour the gallant soldiers of the Armed Forces. The Day should, therefore, become a major part of modern Nigerian life, culture and heritage. A day when various public, private, formal and informal events take place to honour the Armed Forces Nationwide.
Publicity for the Armed Forces Remembrance emblem should also be done in a way that it can be made available to more citizens. This will help promote a sense of belonging and support among the citizens. Members of the Armed Forces would also feel encouraged that we the citizens appreciate what they are doing and have chosen to wear the emblem as a sign of appreciation. Presently, the emblem is worn majorly by government officials, members of the Armed Forces and a few citizens. People that choose to wear the emblem can also play a part in helping raise money for the Nigerian legion thereby taking some of the burden away from the government.
A 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day emblem
Literature and visual documentaries are also needed at this time to help tell the Nigerian story. Some of the members of the Nigerian legion served during the civil war and others attended various peace-keeping missions in countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone and many other African Countries. They all have wonderful stories to tell that can add value to our history as a Nation and it would be good if such stories are documented before we lose major parts of our history.
War memorials also need to be set up in different parts of the country to show respect to our fallen heroes. They can take different forms such as cenotaphs, plaques, museums or gardens. Major parts of the civil war took place in the Eastern Region of Nigeria so it would be good if most memorials are situated there. A National memorial can also be built with the names of every gallant soldier that has fallen at the battlefront. This may be the least we can do to show we appreciate their service to the Nation.
A ceremony can also be held where veterans of the Nigerian Army are presented with medals of honour for their service to the Nation. Records can be checked to see those who were not duly honoured and necessary arrangements should be made to honour them.
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State at the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day in the state
Another major issue that needs to be checked is the welfare of soldiers, especially those deployed to the battle front. In virtually all the areas where soldiers are battling the Boko Haram insurgency, the main complaints have been the lack of adequate welfare packages, obsolete weaponry, weak tactics and strategy, amongst others. This in turn has led to low morale among troops, especially the notorious Boko Haram sect, who now invade military bases and units.Sadly, in most attacks on military bases, these terrorists often make away with military equipment and even weapons to boost their armoury.
All that has been said above, may be a dream that we keep hoping morphs into reality but members of the Nigerian Army deserve a lot of accolades for their service to the Nation. It is my desire that as we celebrate Armed Forces Remembrance Day, we also take time out to remember our fallen heroes and those still fighting to protect the territorial integrity of our dear country Nigeria.
Once again HAPPY ARMED FORCES REMEMBRANCE DAY!!!