The Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle, says Nigeria still needs the expertise and wealth of experience of the retired military officers in confronting the security challenges of the nation.
Matawalle said this at a dinner in honour of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Christopher Musa, organised by members of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) 38 Regular Course Welfare Association on Saturday in Abuja.
He said the experience garnered over the years as military officers would remain relevant even as they embarked on another phase of life.
He added that the nation needed them as professionals and experts to bring to bear their expertise and experience in proffering solutions to the myriads of challenges bedevilling the country.
According to him, it is expected that they now have a special time to recollect and bring forward ideas to address the problems without any hindrance.
“I encourage you to, from time to time, critically brainstorm on the challenges confronting the country with a view to providing workable solutions.
“I want to assure you that the Ministry of Defence is ever ready to receive you as a group of expert thinkers to dialogue on issues of defence and security concerns in our country.
“In view of the immense training and experience of these eminent gentlemen and highly exposed security professionals, we will ensure that your time in retirement is pleasant and we will continue to take your welfare as a priority at the Ministry of Defence,” he said.
The minister said the efforts to move the nation forward were a collective responsibility of all, adding that God had already blessed Nigeria with enormous talented military officers.
He commended the association for honouring their member who was appointed as defence chief and their continuous efforts towards the welfare of the members and the society at large.
The CDS, Gen. Musa, thanked the association for celebrating and honouring him and for their unwavering support and commitment to seeing him succeed as defence chief.
Musa said the event also signified the acknowledgement of the collective achievements and sacrifice of the nation’s armed forces through the unwavering dedication of the brave men and women in uniform who had been able to safeguard Nigeria’s peace and unity.
According to him, their selfless courage and professionalism are the pillars upon which our defence forces stand today.
He said the collaboration with the nation’s allies had become vital in addressing the complex challenges that it currently faces.
The CDS said their training, intelligence sharing and military cooperation had played a key role in enhancing the capabilities of the Nigerian military and strengthening the national defence.
“Our nation has encountered various threats to security and stability, but through unity and perseverance, we have prevailed.
“The commitment and dedication of our armed forces, coupled with the support of Nigerian people, have been instrumental in ensuring that our nation remains strong and secure.
“I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the Nigerian people for their unwavering support and trust in our armed forces.
“Your belief in our capabilities and your recognition of the services made by our men and women in uniform are a constant source of inspiration,” he said.
The CDS said the effort of the 38RC Welfare Association had remained committed to the welfare and well-being of the society, adding that such initiatives had remained vital in fostering a strong bond between the military and civilian communities.
He said the association had, through their generosity and compassion, touched the lives of many service members and their families.
The President, RC38 Welfare Association, Maj. -Gen. Solomon Uduonwa said the event was organised to celebrate their journey in the military, which began on Sept. 21, 1986.
According to him, that journey has seen erstwhile cadets transform into accomplished generals, captains of industry, top politicians and prominent traditional rulers.
He described the CDS as an accomplished general who had held all available command, instruction and staff appointments and had continued to make the nation proud as a military chief.
“As part of our 37th anniversary, we are gathered tonight to honour one of our most accomplished generals from 38 regular courses, our own chief of defence staff, who was appointed on June 19, to save our country’s Armed Forces as the CDS.
“General Musa is someone we have come to share very strong bonds of friendship over the last 37 years.
“In our course, we recognised and acknowledged him as a forerunner and the first among equals in the Nigerian Defence Academy.
“He dazzled a lot of us with his sportsman capabilities. He was a very prolific striker in football. He was also a basketball player. He played volleyball and somebody said he also played hockey.
“It is therefore no surprise that he was chosen by the President, Commander in Chief, to lead our armed forces at this very challenging time.
“We are here to celebrate a distinguished gentleman, somebody who has accomplished everything that there is in the military but still has a lot to offer Nigeria and our armed forces,” he said.
Uduonwa said that 38RC had lost 34 of their members who started the journey with them 37 years ago, the last lost one being the former Director of Defence Media Operations, late Bernard Onyeuko, a retired Major General who passed on in August.