This Day (Lagos)

15 January 2013

Nigeria: Ashiru Seeks Improved Welfare for Veteran Soldiers

As the nation marks the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, has called on Nigerians to acknowledge the contributions made by members of the armed forces through joint and individual efforts, and improve the welfare of the veterans and their families.

He made the call Monday call in Abuja when he launched the Armed Forces Remembrance Day Emblem at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where he noted that Nigeria's contribution to peacekeeping missions in Africa, Asia and Europe has been globally acknowledged and applauded.

Their efforts, he added have contributed to the development and peace of the countries where they have been involved.

"Some have paid the ultimate sacrifice and it is important that the people they left behind are well taken care of. These include their widows, children and dependants," he said.

Director of Veteran Affairs in the Ministry of Defence, General Salihu Uba, speaking with journalists after the launch, said the welfare of veterans in Nigeria have been improved such that they no longer undergo hardships to be able to access their remunerations and benefits.

He added that there are at least 75,000 registered Nigerian veterans, noting that the Department of Pensions would be in a better position to provide an exact number of existing veterans.

The emblem is made up of the Poppy flower, a heart and the Nigerian flag.

Describing the symbolism behind the icons on the emblems, Uba said the poppy flower represents the resilience of the members of the armed forces.

The poppy flower was adopted by the Commonwealth of Nations after it was discovered to be the only plant that thrived in the devastation of the Second World War II.

It has now been adopted by Nigeria to represent the heart of the brave Nigerians who laid down their lives for the country.

"The emblem wouldn't be complete without the Nigerian flag which is the symbol of our country as a nation," Uba said.

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