- General Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) has urged Nigerians to embrace peace
- IBB's charge comes as Nigeria marks another armed forces day
- About 8000 soldiers who fought in the Biafran war have cried out, seeking that the Federal Government gives them due attention
Elder statesman and military president, General Ibrahim BaBabangida, has called for national unity, noting that “in our collective and individual resolves, we should keep Nigeria’s unity, irrespective of sectional, religious and cultural leanings”.
Speaking on the occasion of the 2017 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebrations, Babangida expressed joy that this year’s celebration is coming at a time our armed forces are gaining more ground in the fight against insurgency.
In a statement by his media office, IBB said: “As we celebrate the Armed forces remembrance day, we should take a stock of our uniqueness and sacrifices by our men and women of the armed forces especially the fallen heroes that paid the supreme sacrifices of maintaining peace not only in our country but beyond the shores of Nigeria”.
Commending the military for containing Boko Haram terrorists, Babangida posited that recent events across the country on general insecurity and economic sabotage are a source of concern to every well-meaning Nigerian.
Meanwhile, Niger state Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has expressed displeasure over the way and manner soldiers who fought for the peace, unity and progress of the country are neglected and pleaded for a special attention and support for them.
He made the passionate plea during the launching of the 2017 official launch/ sale of poppy to mark the Armed Forces Remembrance Appeal Week, held at Government House, Minna.
Announcing a cash donation of N6million, on behalf of the state government and a personal donation of N250, 000, the governor directed all local government councils in the state to support legionnaires.
As Nigeria celebrates the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, more than 8,000 soldiers who fought in the Civil War called on the Federal Government to come to their aid, claiming they have not been paid pension since 1978 when they disengaged from the Nigerian Army.
The national coordinator of a group of soldiers, Sergeant Kasali Busari (retd.), told newsmen in Ibadan that after being paid gratuity in 1978, he and other disengaged soldiers had waited for their pension in vain.
“I joined the Nigerian Army in 1967 like many of my colleagues and soon after our training and confirmation as regiment soldiers, we were drafted to the war front.
I was under the late Murtala Muhammed in Ore and Benin. I retired voluntarily in 1978 like many of my colleagues and our gratuities were paid. I got around N2,000 but to date, we have not received monthly pension.
“In 2002, I visited the Military Pension Board in Ikoyi, Lagos on behalf of others but I was told that a circular that was released in 1992 when Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.) cut our group out of the pension scheme. We were told that it affected all First Republic intakes.”
Busari added that letters were written in 2002 appealing to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, then Senate President Pius Anyim and then Minister of Defence, Gen Theophilus Danjuma, to come to their rescue.
“Only Anyim replied through his Chief of Staff, Steve Ahaneku,” the ex-soldier said.
Busari told Sunday Punch that the Chairman of the Military Pension Board, Mohammed Dabo, invited the group for a meeting, after the innauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
“AVM Mohammed Dabo said we should be listed for possible placement on payroll. We have been told that the (Nigerian) Constitution recognises us as genuine military retirees that are entitled to pension but we are still waiting (to be paid),” he said.
Busari said the retirees were however hopeful under Buhari after studying the 2017 pension provision for military retirees.