By Augustine Ehikioya
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, on Wednesday insisted that the annual Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) is a critical ingredient for national security, peace and unity.
The 2022 celebration, themed “Repositioning the NA in the Joint Operations Environment: A Panacea for Success in Addressing Contemporary Security Challenges”, is scheduled to hold in Imo State from 1st to 6th of July.
Kick starting the ceremony with press briefing in Abuja, the COAS noted that the 2022 celebration marks the 159th years of Nigerian Army’s existence since its formation.
The Army Chief, who was represented at the briefing by the Chief of Policy and Plan, Major General Anthony Omozoje, disclosed that the celebration is held on 6th July every year to commemorate the day the unfortunate Nigerian Civil War broke out.
He said “The date is set aside by the Nigerian Army to remind us about our past and the need to employ tactful and mediatory conflict resolution approaches rather than resorting to armed conflict.
“It also reminds us of the ‘No victor, no vanquished’ slogan at the end of the civil war underscoring the need to promote national unity, peace and cohesion strengthened by our diversities.
“The week-long NADCEL is therefore, an important annual event in the calendar of the Nigerian Army due to its significance to National security, peace and unity of our country.
“It also offers the Nigerian Army an opportunity to take stock, assess its performance, interface with the public, and set goals for the succeeding year with a view to maintaining a highly professional Army, well trained, combat ready and effectively positioned to perform its constitutional roles,” he said
He added “The celebration is scheduled to hold from 1st – 6th July, 2022 and it is intended to celebrate the Nigerian Army’s achievements and also showcase the Army’s operational activities, as well as its transformational strides in innovation, development, civil-military cooperation, research and technological advancement.
“The celebration is also aimed at projecting the Army as a development instrument of national unity, integration and as well as highlighting the achievements, capabilities and positive corporate image and reputation of the Nigerian Army.”
The Army Chief listed the activities of the 2022 celebration to include Press Briefing on Wednesday 29th June, Special Jumma’at Prayers on Friday 1st July, 2022 in all NA Formations and units, a Golf Tournament at Arsenal Golf Club, Owerri on Saturday 2nd July 2022, an Interdenominational Service across NA formations and units on Sunday 3rd July, 2022.
Also, he said, there would be courtesy call on the Governor of Imo State, His Excellency Senator Hope Uzodimma and the Eze UDO II of Amaifeke Ancient Kingdom, and the Chairman, Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM EZE, Dr EC Okeke, on Monday 4th July, 2022.
On the same day, he said there will be commissioning of Civil-Military Cooperation projects at Obinze Community and barracks in Imo State.
These CIMIC activities, he pointed out, are aimed at addressing the developmental needs of the communities.
After the commissioning ceremony, the Army Chief said there will be a display of Post Housing Development Limited (PHDL) Prototype Housing Units at PHDL Estate, Owerri, which will be followed by his interaction with Media Executives at Landmark Centre in Owerri.
On Tuesday 5th July, 2022, he said, there will be NA Free Medical Outreach in all NA formations which “will provide medical care and succor to the less privileged domiciled in carefully selected communities.”
According to him, a lecture to further deepen the commemoration of NADCEL 2022, will be held at Landmark Centre Owerri the same day.
“The event would be wrapped up with a Grand Finale, on Wednesday 6th July, 2022 at Heroes Square, Owerri. The Grand Finale will feature the exhibition of Nigerian Army Research and Development Projects, presentation of COAS Commendation Awards to deserving officers and soldiers and regimental military parades, static display and combat equipment march past.
“Additionally, throughout the celebration period, there would be broadcasts of goodwill messages on National TVs from troops at the various frontlines to their families and Nigerians in general, as well as airing of an Nigerian Army audio-visual documentary.”
The COAS, had earlier in the briefing, traced the history of the Nigerian Army back to 1863, when Lieutenant Glover of the Royal Navy organized 18 indigenes of Northern Nigeria into a local force known as the “Glover Hausas”.
“This local force went through several stages of metamorphosis and eventually became part of a larger Military body established by Lord Fredrick Lugard in 1900 known as the West African Frontier Force (WAFF).
“Since then, the force went through several transformational stages with consequent changes in nomenclature namely the Nigerian Regiment, Queen’s Own Nigerian Regiment, and Nigerian Military Force, before adopting its current name, the Nigerian Army. It is worthy of note that the first NADCEL was celebrated in Lagos in 1978,” he stated.
Despite the spate of insecurity in the South East, the Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, during interactive session, assured that there is no cause for alarm for the Army to hold the 2022 celebration in Owerri, Imo State.
Stressing that Imo state is very conducive for the Army Day celebration, he noted that the 2017 celebration was held in Borno State in the heat of insurgency.