Publicity Secretary, Retired Army, Navy and Air Force Officers Association of Nigeria (RANAD), Captain Yusuf Abdulmalik (rtd) has described the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration as a cosmetic display of affection by the present government, insisting that the administration has failed to address the plights of ex- military officers in Nigeria.
In an interview, Abdulmalik explained that while the various arms of government took advantage of the occasion to mislead the public about their concern for the veterans and their families, the truth remained that very little attention or care, in policy terms, was extended to them for the rest of the year.
Abdulmalik, who said he had stopped attending the Remembrance Day ceremonies, held that the occasion had totally failed to address the concrete issues affecting ex-service men in Nigeria or to lift them out of their present precarious financial condition.
He accused the Federal Government of neglecting the needs of ex-service men, poor implementation of the various approved wage increments, unpaid arrears and other forms of policy insensitivity, lamenting that though President Muhammad Buhari and the Minister of Defence, Major-General Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd) were both ex- service officers, the benefits of their exalted positions had not been felt by their colleagues.
Lamenting that several efforts made to secure their intervention had been fruitful, Abdulmalik recalled the recent protest by military veterans to press home their demands, pointing out the protest was informed by deplorable living conditions in which the veterans had found themselves.
Talking about the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration, he said: “Every year, they assemble at different locations for the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, they make fine speeches, they make donations, they launch the emblems and that is where it all ends. And after that, the veterans continue with their sufferings. Even the money realized from the donations, nobody knows where it ends.”
According to him, the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day should, therefore, be an opportunity for the Administration and its key actors to resolve to make up for the past misdeeds and improve the welfare of “these gallant retirees.”
“This is a moment for them to search their conscience, to ask the right questions, ensure effective implementation of approved payments to the living retirees. That way, even those of us who are gone to the other side, would have genuine reasons to celebrate with them on the occasion of the Remembrance Day,” Abdulmalik stated.