As Nigerians mark the 2023 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, the governor of Cross River State in southern Nigeria, Professor Ben Ayade has advocated for improved retirement benefits for former military personnel and families of slain soldiers.

Governor Ayade made the call after he led service commanders and other dignitaries to lay wreaths at the cenotaph erected in memory of soldiers that paid the ultimate price for world, national and regional peace during the 1st and 2nd World Wars, the Nigerian Civil and internal security operations.

Reflect on sacrifices

In a brief remark, Ayade urged Nigerians including government at the local, state and federal levels to reflect on the gallantry and sacrifices of the slain heroes, the survivors of war needing different medical care and the families left behind.

He lamented the challenges of sustainable livelihoods for war survivors and families of fallen soldiers, noting “today is an opportunity for government at all levels to reflect on the pains, agony and melancholy of those alive. Some members of the armed forces, who sacrificed their lives have their loved ones still with us today experiencing the challenges of sustainable livelihoods.

“Therefore, this is a call on government at all levels to reflect on the sacrifices those fallen heroes made for the unity of our country, Nigeria. Let me use this ceremony to call attention to all pensioners that as we celebrate those, who are dead, we should celebrate those, who are living,” he said.

“Let it be that this government showed sensitivity to those, who have aspired and served this nation whether as unarmed or armed forces. As a collective people, our responsibility is to cater to the need of those, who depend on us. I, therefore, pledge to ensure that the incoming government remains sensitive by sustaining and creating opportunities for the people earn a decent living.

“In other to sustain a decent and caring society salaries, pensions, employments and job creation opportunities are cardinal factors, which show how sensitive a government is to its citizens.”

Supporting families

Speaking with some journalists, the Chairman of the Nigerian Legion, Cross River State, Mr. Bassey Edet urged the government to pay benefits and allowances due to widows of the fallen soldiers to enable them cater to the needs of their families.

He commended Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor for measure taken to commence the payment of approved allowances to pensioners and families of fallen soldiers.

In a separate interview, the coordinator of Military Widows Association, Cross River State chapter, Mrs. Arit Nse said the association in Cross River State has more than 200 members comprising wives of fallen soldiers across the army, navy and air force and urged the government to support the families left behind.

The gathering observed a 21 gun salute after a minute silence for those departed, while the flags were lowered in honour of the slain.

The event climaxed with the release of white doves symbolizing peace and love as well as a final farewell to the departed souls of the soldiers, who were at various peacekeeping missions in Tanzania, Liberia, Darfur (Sudan), the Congo, Guinea Bissau and Mali besides the ECOWAS peacekeeping ECOMOG and the two World Wars as well as the Nigerian Civil War.

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