No fewer than five local government councils in Rivers State have honoured the sacrifices of fallen military heroes and raised the hopes of their widows and surviving family members of better days ahead.
The LGAs include Ikwerre, Degema, Akuku-Toru, Tai, and Andoni where tangible commitments were made to the families of fallen heroes and members of the Legionnaires.
In Ikwerre Local Government Area, the Chairman, Engr. Samuel Nwanosike declared war against oil thieves and vandals over worsening situation of soot in Ikwerre LGA.
Nwanosike declared the war, last Saturday while speaking during the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration at the Ikwerre Council Secretariat, Isiokpo.
According to him, “When I say that we are in a war situation, you know we are in a war against oil thieves and vandals.
“So, if you don’t know as a government official, know that Rivers State Government and Ikwerre Local Government are at war with oil thieves and vandals because they are the enemies that are eating us up now”.
Nwanosike called on the entire people of the LGA to join in the fight against oil thieves and vandals, urging them not to trivialise the efforts of the state and local governments over the fight.
He lampooned the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government for failing to keep to its promises to Nigerians.
The Ikwerre Council chairman said, “And they are also aware that the Federal Government, through the Vice President of this nation, visited the Niger Delta severally, even in the first term and part of their second term, to promise the people of Niger Delta that they are bringing a technology called modular refinery that will end the issue of vandalisation of oil installations that has taken over our environment. Since the Federal Government has failed, like they have failed all the promises they had made to Nigerians that brought them to power.
“They have failed on the issue of restructuring. They have failed on the issue of infrastructure. They have failed on fighting insecurity. They have failed on fight against corruption. They have failed in making our lives and our properties safe. They have failed in improving our welfare.
“So, since they have been failing, and we have been calling on them all these while to come to fulfil the promises they made to the people of Niger Delta over modular refinery, the Government of Rivers State, led by the people’s face of democracy, Chief Nyesom Wike, declared the fight to save the people of Rivers State, those who live and do business here. Because this air that we breathe, you have no equipment to stop the air from coming”.
He attributed the recent mysterious deaths in the various communities of the LGA to soot due to illegal oil refining.
Nwanosike vowed to battle with those responsible for the soot, saying that, “We hear all the threats they have been making. We have their names, we know their houses, their relatives, and we know those that even buy their products from them”.
He stated that the security agents would continue to declare them wanted, and advised them to make themselves available to the state government or security agencies so as to prove their innocence.
“Nobody, no matter how highly placed is exempted from this fight. If you like, be the chairman of our party in the state or the chairman of our party in this local government or the chairman of our party in the ward or anybody, whether you are a security agent, you are a traditional ruler, as long as we identify that you have link to these activities, you will be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the laws of Nigeria.
“We are not going to leave any stone unturned to see that we restore our environment”, the Nwanosike assured.
He commended Governor Nyesom Wike for the bold step he has taken in the fight against oil bunkering activities, saying that the people of Ikwerre LGA would support him.
Nwanosike assured the living and dead military heroes and their families that Ikwerre LGA would not forget their sacrifices, and continue to do its best to support them by improving their lives and welfare.
He noted that the council has redeemed its N1million pledge to the legionnaires, and promised the Ikwerre LGA Chapter another N1million to be used in running its offices and activities.
The Ikwerre Council boss also magnanimously gave 13 Back-to-School programme slots for WAEC and JAMB registration to the children of the fallen heroes across the 13 Wards of the LGA.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of Nigerian Legion, Ikwerre LGA Chapter, Major Anthony Ichem (rtd), commended Nwanosike for his magnanimity towards the legionnaires and fulfilment of all his promises to them, while assuring of their contributions in making the LGA more safe and habitable.
He, however, urged the council chairman to furnish the office he provided for them at the Ikwerre LGA Secretariat.
Highlights of the event include the laying of wreaths and parades.
Similarly, the Chairman of Degema Local Government Area, Hon. Michael Williams, has appealed to public spirited individuals in the society to support the welfare of serving, retired and fallen military heroes in the country.
Speaking at the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration, which took place at the council headquarters in Degema, the chairman stated that by remembering the sacrifices of men of the Armed Forces, it would motivate those in active service to know that their efforts were well acknowledged, and would also encourage families of fallen heroes to know that the nation honours and remembers their loved ones.
“The Armed Forces Remembrance Day is a special day set aside to celebrate, honour and remember our heroes that risked their lives for us to be safe.
“Although some of them have passed on, yet some others are still here with us, either on retirement or in active service to the nation.
“Occasions like this therefore gives us an opportunity to remember and appreciate their gallantry and selfless sacrifice, and for those fallen heroes, it is incumbent on us to remember their widows, children and loved ones they left behind, and give them the little support we can, to encourage them, as well as motivate those still in service,” he said.
The council boss, who donated the sum of N1million to the Legionnaires in Degema LGA, also motivated other principal officers of his administration, councillors and other stakeholders to make compassionate donations towards the welfare of the ex-servicemen in the LGA.
He encouraged the Legionnaires to continue to believe in the country they sacrificed to keep united and make judicious use of whatever is given to them, adding that their sacrifices would not go in vain.
He added that his administration, just like that of Governor Nyesom Wike, believes in the unity of Nigeria, and would continue to support the security operatives, who put their lives in the line to secure the territorial integrity of the country.
Earlier, Chairman of the Legionnaires in DELGA, Soye Duke, had in his address, commended the council chairman for his massive support to the Legionnaires, both at the state and LGA levels.
Duke, who is also the chief security officer (CSO) to the council chairman, also thanked Williams for his compassionate disposition towards the Legion, adding that they had never been so cared for in the past.
He bemoaned the lackadaisical and non-chalant attitude of Nigeria towards men of the Armed Forces, who sacrificed their all for the peace and security of the nation, calling for an attitudinal change in that regard.
“To tell ourselves the bitter truth, it does appear that this is the only period we talk about the sacrifice made by these fallen heroes, who laid down their lives for all of us.
“It is rather unfortunate that these great heroes, being referred to as fallen heroes and the veterans; these gentlemen who actually paid the ultimate price, are not genuinely respected and appreciated.
“It is sad and painful that the same society they died for have suddenly turned against them at a time like this.
“It is with this regret in our hearts that we are appealing to the general public to change their perception about the veterans, fallen heroes and their dependents, because these groups of gentlemen need your care, love and support,” Duke stated.
Highpoint of the ceremony was laying of wreath by the council chairman, alongside heads of other military and paramilitary agencies in the LGA.
The event was well attended by dignitaries and stakeholders, Commander of 103 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Major Ayuba; Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, CP Friday Eboka; represented by the Police Area Commander, ACP Lawal Adamu Shinkafi; and the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Degema, SP Hamza.
Others include; representatives from the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS); Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS); Department of State Services (DSS); Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC); Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC); Nigeria Customs Service (NCS); National Youth Service Corps (NYSC); Legionnaires, as well as widows of ex-servicemen.
The rest were, Head of Local Government Administration (HLGA) in DELGA, directors in the various ministries/departments and traditional rulers and chiefs of the Degema Traditional Rulers Council.
Also in attendance were, the Vice Chairman of DELGA, Mrs. Maureen Harry; Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in DELGA, Disciple Peter Abbey, as well as top functionaries and other appointees of the administration.
In the same vein, the Akuku-Toru Local Government Area Chairman, Hon Rowland Sekibo expressed solidarity and appreciation for the meritorious services and sacrifices made by the Nigerian military and the nation’s fallen heroes who paid the supreme price so that the country may remain united.
Sekibo honoured the fallen heroes when he performed the wreath-laying ceremony at the cenotaph, with a 21 gun salute in commemoration of this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in the council secretariat, Abonnema.
While acknowledging the sacrifices made by members of the military in defence of the nation, Sekibo decried the deplorable condition of servicemen across the nation.
The council boss reiterated his administration’s commitment to the welfare of security personnel serving in the LGA, and pledged to support the Legion with monthly stipends for 30 legionnaires.
He also promised to provide prosthetics for the disabled ex-servicemen as part of the council’s contribution and appreciation for the selfless services rendered to the nation.
“There’s nothing one can give that can measure up to the sacrifices made by our military in the service of humanity and the nation. We are, therefore, inclined to partner with the Nigerian Legion, AKULGA chapter in alleviating the miserable condition ex-servicemen find themselves after giving so much in the service of the nation”, he said.
It would be recalled that the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration is a day of sober reflection held annually on January 15 in honour of members of the Armed Forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the nation.
Also, the Chairman of Tai Local Government Council, Sir Mbakpone Okpe donated the sum of N1million for the welfare development of retired officers of the Nigeria military in the LGA.
The chairman made the donation while performing the wreaths laying in remembrance of the fallen Nigeria Armed Forces officers in Saakpenwa, the Tai Local Government Headquarters, last Saturday.
Okpe explained that his administration was providing monthly stipends to members of the Nigeria Legion in the LGA because their tremendous contribution to the security of the country cannot be underestimated.
The chairman also asked that the data of the wives of the fallen heroes (widows) be collated so that the council can also provide little stipends to support their monthly welfare needs.
Okpe used the medium to announce a bounty of N1million to any individual who can provide useful information on sites where crude oil was illegally refined within the LGA.
The Tai Council boss explained that his administration has carried out surveillance on every nook and crannies of the LGA but could not find any forest where crude oil was illegally refined.
He said that to satisfy his curiosity, he has directed that anyone who can identify persons, communities and forests where such illegal activities were going on should report to his office at Saakpenwa and claim the N1million bounty.
However, the chairman warned that people who want to present or have such sensitive information should ensure that it was true and verifiable, and not aimed at getting back at individuals who may not be in good terms with them.
In the same token, the Chairman of Andoni Local Government Area, Barrister Erastus Awortu, has assured the Legionnaires and families of fallen military heroes of the council’s support at all times as their supreme sacrifices for the unity and survival of the nation will not be in vain.
Awortu also assured the Legionnaires that his administration would ensure their inclusion in the council policies and programmes, especially as it concerns the security architecture of the LGA, where their wealth of experience and expertise would be much needed.
The chairman made the pledge, last Saturday, during the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration at Ngo, headquarters of the LGA.
He said the services off the Legionnaires were needed now more than ever before because of the daunting security challenges facing the area, especially as it relates to the activities of artisanal refinery operators, and charged them to work in concert with the council authorities to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators of the crime.
In his speech, the chairman of Nigeria Legion, Andoni Chapter, Andoni LGA, called on all to reflect on the essence of the day and their responsibilities to honour and remember the nation’s gallant fallen heroes who died in active service so that we may live.
He further called on all government agencies, captains of industry and corporate bodies to remember the families of military fallen heroes and veterans living in these harsh economic times.
To this end, he pleaded with the Andoni council boss, to consider the welfare of Legionnaires and their loved ones.
The programme came to a climax with the inspection of the guard of honour for the 2022 the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration and the laying of wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the council Chairman, Barrister Erastus Awortu.
By: Nelson Chukwudi