The Nigerian Military Veterans have resolved to come together under a proposed umbrella body to be named Veterans Federation of Nigeria (VFN) to replace the existing Nigerian Legion. This unification was part of the communiqué reached at the end of a three-day workshop organized by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) for military retirees held in Abuja from 21-23 May 2018.
The workshop tagged, “Unification of Veterans’ Association in Nigeria: A Panacea for Building a Vibrant Veterans Association,’’ was well attended by the leaderships of the various affiliated veterans’ associations across the country. The workshop was the first of its kind and an initiative of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), which addressed the issue of effective veterans’ management and administration system and the welfare of military retirees.
Speaking at the workshop, CDS, General Gabriel Olonisakin who was the Special Guest of Honour, said the idea behind the workshop is to promote the unity and welfare of veterans while in retirement. He explained that the proliferation of veteran associations in the country has hampered the progress of military retirees.
According to the CDS, “it is our desire to see the emergence of a single unified body for effective management and administration of all our military veterans.”He added that the proposed veteran system would be a legacy that will not only benefit the military retirees but also those still in active service as government would seek to adequately address issues of veterans welfare.
The CDS recalled that the quest to seek a robust veteran administration was mooted last year. “Thus, as part of our efforts to improve the administration of our veterans, I approved a team to visit Egypt in December 2017 to study the Egyptian model of veteran administration. He said while the Team recommendations are being considered, “the DHQ organized the workshop to fashion out an appropriate veteran administration model in Nigeria.’’
General Olonisakin, described the Nigerian Armed Forces as “the pride of the nation,” adding that the military have been the stronghold of the nation despite contentious trends that often threaten the unity of the country. He said aside from defending the territorial integrity of the nation, support to civil authority as well as maintenance of international peace and security, the Armed Forces is an embodiment of qualified personnel who can also contribute to national development.
The CDS also congratulated the participants for a successful deliberation, noting that “the outcome of the workshop will certainly be the basis of future engagements on the way forward for military veteran association which is the proposed Veteran Federation of Nigeria.”
Earlier, the Director of Veteran Affairs Division, Major General Edward Obi while welcoming the participants to the workshop, appreciated the country’s patriots, especially the Civil War veterans for what he described as “greatest sacrifice of self for the peace, security and development of the country.” He further stated that their sense of patriotism is never in doubt and does not end with the termination of active service.
Major General Obi who commended the CDS for initiating the workshop, explained that it is expected to form the nucleus for the attainment of the standards that is obtainable in countries where veterans are highly respected and accorded privileges.
A paper on the “Imperative for Unification of Veterans’ Association in Nigeria was delivered by Major General SD Aliyu Retired. While two other papers titled: “Veterans’ Administration in the 21st Century: The United Kingdom and the Egypt Experience,” were delivered by Brigadier General Charlie Calber, the British Defence Attaché to Nigeria and Major General Umar Retired.