President Muhammadu Buhari led Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the leadership of the National Assembly and the judiciary to lay wreaths at the National Memorial Arcade in Abuja yesterday.
The event, which marked the climax of the 2019 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration, started immediately after the arrival of Buhari at about 11:00 a.m.
It featured a parade by officers and men of the Armed Forces and the Nigerian Legion, inspected by the president. The ‘‘Last Post’’ followed, a symbolic aspect of the ceremony that reminds veterans of their departed colleagues.The director, Army Chaplaincy Services, Brig-Gen. Charles Chidibere Iregu, and Navy Commander Toafeek Gidado offered Christian and Muslim prayers.
After a one-minute silence for the fallen heroes, Buhari and Osinbajo laid wreaths at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
In a departure from past tradition, the Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara laid wreaths at the same time, followed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen.
During the ceremony in Imo State, Governor Rochas Okorocha donated N200,000 to a soldier who fainted. He also gave N5 million to the state chapter of Nigeria Legion.
He remarked: “We are here to salute courage and patriotic devotion. We are here to celebrate heroes who decided to give up their lives that their nation might be honoured. We are here to encourage heroism in our nation.
Today, we are gathered, not because these gallant men and women have fallen, not because they joined the army or armed forces, we are here because at the end of their sojourn on earth, they became heroes worthy of celebration. They gave up their lives to protect the integrity and peace of our nation.”
Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, pledged to boost the welfare of ex-service men, if he is elected. “They deserve the best. But for them, the peace and unity we are enjoying, as Nigerians, won’t be there. We owe them a lot, and their sweat should not be allowed to go unrewarded,” he said during a special prayer session to mark the Day in Akure, Ondo State.