Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, has called for increased collaboration among security agencies to adequately tackle the insecurity in the country.
He made the call on Monday when he received the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya, at the Government House in Owerri, the state capital.
The governor also stressed the importance of a cordial civil-military relationship, especially in the South East which has witnessed a series of attacks by armed men in recent times.
General Yahaya, on his part, paid a courtesy call on the governor as part of activities lined up for the 2022 Army Day Celebration holding in Owerri.
He reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian Army to ensuring that there was peace and stability in the county.
The army chief also thanked the people and government of Imo State for their hospitality as army personnel converge on the state capital from all over the country for the celebration.
Meanwhile, Governor Uzodimma was at the venue of the celebration where he commended the army for its service and sacrifice to the nation.
Read the full text of the governor’s remarks at the event below:
On behalf of the State Executive Council and the good people of Imo State, may I, most warmly, welcome the officers and men of the Nigerian Army to Owerri, Imo State, on this historic occasion of the 46th edition of the annual Army Day Celebration.
I have reserved the warmest welcome for the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya, and all those who played a role in choosing Owerri as the venue for this year’s celebration. I may not know what informed this wise choice but let me hazard the guess that you leveraged on the enduring relationship between 34 Artillery Brigade, Obinze, and the government and people of the state.
For decades now, Imo State has been the proud and worthy host to this Brigade, and we can all attest to the fact that the relationship between us has been quite cordial and mutually beneficial. Let me also guess that the military hierarchy – the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and his top commanders – must have heard of the famed hospitality of the Imo people, particularly our capital city, Owerri, which is the hub of tourism in eastern Nigeria.
Whatever informed this choice, I am delighted to have you in our state for this celebration. This is because I hold the military in the highest esteem and I strongly believe our military deserves to be honoured, appreciated, and celebrated.
This is only natural, after all the freedom and liberty we enjoy today has been made possible by your bravery in, and dedication to, the defence of our country. As George Patton said, ‘the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country”. So, I say a very warm welcome to Imo State – the Eastern Heartland.
I am aware that the Armed Forces Celebration Day was initiated at the end of the civil war to reconcile and reunite the different parts of the country. It is commendable, therefore, that the army has sustained this worthwhile initiative for the past 45 years.
Over the years, the celebration has evolved to also serve as a noble way of showcasing the commitment of the Army as a professional responsive force that acknowledges the contributions of its members, including the living and the dead, to national unity and peace.
The theme of this year’s celebration, which is “REPOSITIONING THE NIGERIAN ARMY IN A JOINT OPERATIONS ENVIRONMENT: A PANACEA FOR SUCCESS IN ADDRESSING CONTEMPORARY SECURITY CHALLENGES” is therefore quite apt and topical. Put differently, the theme is truly reflective of the mood of the nation at this point in time.
As a matter of fact, the need to develop a framework within which all the security agencies will work jointly and in synergy to confront the current security challenges cannot be overemphasized. I am positive that one of the fallouts from this year’s celebration would be a renewed desire to reposition the Nigerian army along this line.
I am confident that when this is achieved, our security agencies would be in a better and stronger position to overcome the various security challenges which we face currently in different parts of the country. Let me, therefore, use this platform to join other well-meaning compatriots to appeal to our security agencies to put aside whatever inter-agency rivalries that may exist between them, and continue to share vital intelligence for the overall security of our nation.
I am aware and mindful of the sacrifices that the officers and men of the Nigerian Army continue to make for our freedom and for the protection of the territorial integrity of the nation. These sacrifices have often involved paying the supreme price for the love of the country. In truth, no sacrifice can be higher than this.
From the first and second world wars to the continental peace-keeping missions, and from the civil war to the recent security challenges in the country, many officers and men have lost their lives fighting to secure our nation so we can live in freedom and dignity. Many more have been maimed and traumatised for life.
These sacrifices would never be in vain. The memories of our fallen soldiers always come alive in me whenever I recall, or listen to, some of the inspiring and soothing lines in our national anthem: “…. the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain; To serve with heart and mind, one nation bound in freedom, peace, and unity”.
That is partly why my administration takes the annual armed forces remembrance day seriously. I am committed not only to the welfare of the veterans and widows of fallen troops but also to the needs of those who are still serving.
I encourage our troops to serve with pride and renewed vigour because we will always stand by them. While defence remains the exclusive charge of the federal government, it is heart-warming to know that many states have continued to support the armed forces in different ways.
Yet, I believe we can do a bit more, particularly in the area of the welfare of veterans and their families. Such a renewed commitment to the welfare of our armed forces – serving or fallen – is one way we can encourage them and reciprocate the undying patriotic zeal with which they serve our homeland.
I understand that the civil-military cooperation impact project would be commissioned as part of this year’s Army Day Celebration in the state. Such laudable gestures are in line with modern practices and will go a long way towards building a healthier relationship between the military and the civilian population. There is no doubt that the Nigerian Army has greatly improved its relationship with the civil populace.
But there is some room for improvement, particularly in the South-East and Imo State, in particular. Therefore, I urge the military to seek not just to overpower the insurgents, terrorists, or rebels, as the case may be, but also seek to win the hearts and minds of the people they want to protect. This will go a long way towards building trust and erasing the mutual suspicion that exists between the civilians and the military.
I recall with gratitude that when violence erupted in Imo State and insecurity flourished, the military responded promptly and helped us to contain the situation. While many well-meaning citizens applauded the military for their timely intervention, some disgruntled politicians went to town with the unpatriotic propaganda that the government had invited the army to kill the citizens of the state.
Sadly, the gullible ones, many of whom are still burdened by the horror and unpleasant scars of the civil war, believed the stories. This is why there is a need to further deepen military-civilian cooperation, especially in this part of the country. In addition to other forms of public relations efforts, joint military-civilian social impact projects, such as this one, will help to achieve this.
I commend you, therefore, for your determination to smoothen the lines of suspicion between the military and civil society. You can be assured of the willingness of my government to collaborate with you in this regard.
For us in Imo State, having lived harmoniously with the military for so long I can confirm that there has been a kind of integration that has led to a mutual understanding and respect for each other. We have benefitted immensely from this collaboration in the fight against insecurity in the state. At this point, let me reiterate my gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his support and commitment to our safety.
Let me also thank the military high command for availing us with troops which led to the containment of the security challenges we faced in the past. My government will continue to appreciate the sacrifices you make for our safety, peace, and freedom.
We have responded with compassion to the families of those who lost their lives in their attempt to protect and keep us safe in Imo State. And we shall continue to assist and support our forces as they discharge their patriotic duties to the nation.
Once again, I welcome you to Owerri. We have a saying here that my home is your home or “the house belongs to both of us”. So, please feel at home and enjoy your stay in Imo State. Even with your busy schedule, try and make out time to explore the beauty of the state. Thereafter, I am sure that it won’t be long before you will crave to return on another visit either in groups or as individuals.
Finally, I wish you a very rewarding and successful Army Day celebration.
God bless the Nigerian Army
God bless Imo state
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Senator Hope Uzodimma
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