By Revd. Dr. Idowu Ibitoye
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name, make known among the nations what the Lord has done”, Ps. 105:1, it is a good thing to always praise the Lord of hosts. It is exactly a year when we gathered at St Joseph Catholic Cathedral in 2020 to remember and pray for the families of our fallen heroes.
Mahatma Gandhi asserted that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. These words best describe the Nigerian Military men &women who daily sacrifice themselves for the peace of our country.
We are aware that peace is a very crucial and fundamental asset in community building, family and personal growth, as well as for the very survival of the planet. With peace in place there will be enhanced productivity, meaningful progress and sustainable societies; the military plays a crucial role in achieving this.
Nigeria’ Military Operations
Nigeria’s military had played major roles in sustaining, achieving and restoring peace both at home and in other countries. Likewise, through her military operations, developments and progress had been recorded in many areas, most especially in counterinsurgency operations and combat against militancy, cattle rustling, kidnapping, armed robbery and religious extremism. Through the efforts of the military, most of these evil vices have been pushed back thereby restoring peace to our society.
Military Operations during Covid-19 and End-SARS Protest
Year 2020 was characterised with multiple challenges that bedeviled our nation, ranging from global outbreak of COVID-19 that spread like wild fire across all continents of the world, claiming several lives. In curtailing the spread of this deadly virus, government had to enforce curfew, stay at home order and total lockdown that lasted for several weeks.
The military played a vital role in enforcing this order/policy so as to curtail/minimize the spread of Coronavirus. Many military men and women were saddled with the responsibility of protecting COVID-19 isolation centres spread across the states of the federation, while many keep watch over some COVID-19 sensitive materials. Also, many were on the roads to ensure total lockdown policy were observed. In discharging these duties, many security officers were infected with the deadly virus and some lost their lives in the process.
The recent END-SARS protest that was eventually hijacked by hoodlums is very disheartening and pathetic, it eventually led to the vandilisation of critical public assets, many police stations/post, and correctional centers were destroyed. Both public and private assets were not left out in the process of this heinous act. Many military men who were on their lawful duties were mobbed, victimized and many lost their lives in the process. It was also the military that eventually restored peace and normalcy in the society, after the unfortunate protest.
The Nigerian church stand with the Armed forces, and we shall continue to render our unflinching support to the military, and earnestly praying that such evil acts that occurred in 2020 will never repeat itself again.
Sacrifice of the Nigerian Military
It is noteworthy to mention that Nigerian security agents’ sacrifice a lot to ensure that absolute peace is achieved in our nation. God who is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him, notice your sacrifice and He shall reward you accordingly in this world and the world to come.
In the words of Gen. Tukur Buratai on 15th Jan. 2019, during the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, he said “every man is born a hero. It takes a hero to be a soldier, soldiers live forever, their memories never die, their valour and sacrifice makes a nation”.In the same spirit with the Chief of Army Staff, and in commemorating the amazing selflessness of our fallen heroes who have paid the supreme price at ensuring that our country remains indivisible, we give kudos to the Nigerian security forces.
The Military and the Church, Collaborating for Peaceful Society
As we all know that the church controls the larger percentage of the nation’s population and every week the clergy speak to his congregants, his words carry authority to his parishioners. We assure you that Nigerian church will continue to preach peace and peaceful coexistence. The Church is always available in promoting peace anytime she is called upon.
We want to appreciate the commands and barracks that has established chaplaincy for the spiritual developments of our gallant officers. The ecumenical body is ever ready in partnering with all our chaplaincies at ensuring that the sanctity of the church is maintained and the message of Jesus Christ is constantly preached.
We are here today to remember the fallen heroes, those that have paid the supreme price for us to live in peace, praying that God will uphold the families they left behind. On behalf of our National and State leadership we welcome all of you to this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Sunday.
*Being a welcome address delivered by Rev. Dr. R.I. Ibitoye Amb-P, Secretary, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kwara State Chapter at the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Sunday held at 12th Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Ilorin on 10th January, 2021.
By Revd. Dr. Idowu Ibitoye