This Day (Lagos)

4 October 2012

Nigeria: Jonathan Vows to Strengthen the Armed Forces

President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed to make continuous strengthening of the Nigerian Armed forces as one of the top priority of his administration, saying that the strength of any nation lies with its military.

Jonathan made this remarks Wednesday at the inauguration of the first phase of the newly created 176 Guards Battalion, Kuje Barracks.

He stated the welfare of the military was of utmost importance in the affairs of any nation and assured that the Federal Government would work closely with all the security services to strengthen the armed forces.

He said: "Let me assure the armed forces that this present administration will work with them because one thing I believe is that the strength of any nation depends on the strengthen of your security.

"It does not depend on how powerful the politicians are but depends on the strength of your security and this is even from history for a king to defend his kingdom or emir to defend his emirate he must have very strong security."

The President also said the military's strength added to the prestige of a nation and vowed not to allow the reputation of Nigeria as a great military power to wane amongst the committee of nations.

"Even in modern times people respect nations not because they have top politicians who can always talk but because they have strong security," he said.

Jonathan, who commended the on-going projects and initiatives of the armed forces towards modernisation including recent innovations by the Army, Navy and Air Force, promised to increase their funding.

He disclosed that he had set up a committee headed by the Vice-President Namadi Sambo to look at areas to fund some of the activities of armed force s outside line budgeting .

He said the committee would look at areas that have to do with innovations and modernisation of the armed forces, while stressing the need to encourage the defence industry by not only funding Defence Industries Cooperation (DICON) but to review the whole process.

He said: "As a nation, we are not doing too well in terms of improving our competences in building our own capacity. We have very fine officers and we must encourage them and one of the things we want to do is to make sure that , the army, navy and air force have well established institutions that even when competent officers retire , they should have a place where they can work for some time."

Jonathan further stated that the services only required more funding to improve on the excellent work they were doing and assured them of funding.

The President also expressed satisfaction with the barrack, which will house the soldiers and officers of the Third Battalion of Brigade of Guards, adding that the welfare of military personnel must be at the heart of government.

"This is because nobody that will live in a place that is deplorable that would behave as a decent human being. If you treat them like a pig, they will behave like a pig. We must make sure that we provide for our security services, these are the people who stay awake for us to sleep and these are the people that bring reputation to our nation," he added.

Earlier, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, said in line with the president agenda, the army had since realised that one of the best way to develop was to look inwards in order to maximise their potentials and augment government's effort through direct labour.

Ihejirika said the direct labour approach was not limited to buildings and infrastructure, but also reminded that the army had refurbish several armoured fighting vehicles and artillery weapons and communication equipment.

"Apart from the army enriching their experience through direct labour, they appreciate and hope that their engagement would attract more support and encouragement at both federal and state levels," he said.

COAS also expressed gratitude to the President for the support he gave the Army and for approving the project, which said the first phase that was being commissioned was built within period of four months.

He noted that Jonathan's support was vital as this is the first time a new battalion has been created since the seat of power was transferred from Lagos to Abuja bring the Guards Battalion to three in the nation's capital.

"I wish to thank the president for fulfilling his promise to provide the army with the necessary support for the fulfilment of its assigned task and the encouragement in the use of direct labour in tackling our logistic problems," he noted.

Also speaking, Corp Commander Army Engineers, Maj-Gen Adebayor Olaniyi, said the choice of the barracks in kuje was borne out of the prevailing security situation in the country and the importance of the FCT being the seat of power.

Olaniyi said it was also envisioned that the strategic location of the barrack would benefit the people of Kuje environs, Gwagwalada , Suleja and as far as Kogi and Niger States as it will enhance robust patrol.

"Therefore was therefore a need to brief up the existing troops accommodation so as to achieve a comprehensively secured environment," he said.

The first phase of the 176 Guards Battalion, Kuje consists of 21 Corporal blocks two Bedroom Flats and eight Officers blocks of three bedroom flats.

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