Recognition and reward came the way of 37 soldiers and officers of the Nigerian Army for their exceptional gallantry in the war against terror in the northeastern part of the country.
The soldiers are serving in the Operation Lafiya Dole (OPLD). Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, who released the information in a statement in Abuja, said the military personnel had distinguished themselves on the battle-field in the areas of professionalism, profound commitment, exemplary conduct and other sterling qualities in the war against terror to merit the awards.
He said “The rewards are typical of the Nigerian Army’s usual practice of duly recognising unique acts of undeniable gallantry, as well as commitment to the service of our fatherland.
Iliyasu added: “It is meant to inspire their colleagues to always strive for excellence in the discharge of their professional undertakings.
While the distinguished officers are to be given Special Letters of Commendation, the soldiers on the other hand would each be granted special promotions to their next higher ranks.”
The lucky officers and men honoured included Brig.-Gen. Olufemi Oluyede, Commander 27 Task Force Brigade; Brig.-Gen. Ahmadu Mohammed, the immediate past Commander, 26 Task Force Brigade, Gwoza and Col. Mohammed Babayo, Commandant, Army Super Camp, Benisheik.
Others are Lt.-Col. Isah Yusuf, Commanding Officer 158 Task Force Battalion; Lt.-Col. Abayomi Biobaku, Commanding Officer 159 Battalion; Lt.- Col. Jerry Maigari, Commanding Officer 251 Task Force Battalion and Lt.-Col. Tajudeen Lamidi, Commanding Officer 192 Battalion.
Also on the list are Maj. Michael Ndubuisi, Army Headquarters Strike Group; Maj. Abdullahi Muhammad, 212 Battalion and Capt. Emeka Chukwu, Headquarters Theatre Command.
Others are Capt. Audu Kure – 192 Battalion; Capt. Alhassan Abdulkadir – 192 Battalion; Capt. Festus Fatunberu – 212 Battalion and Capt. Haruna Dabai – Headquarters 7 Division. Others are Lt. Baba Mala, 3 Battalion (Main); Lt. Osazee Asemota, 144 Battalion; Lt. Jeremiah Abomchi, 212 Battalion and Lt Suleiman Kirikpo, 231 Battalion.
We join the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, in congratulating the beneficiaries of the awards and urge them to do more because, as they say, the reward for hard work is more work.
We are particularly glad that such recognition is not a one-off but a periodic affair for the officers and men of the OPLD.
We hope, however, that such appreciation is not restricted to soldiers serving under the OPLD but extended to other officers and men serving in other capacities.
The institutionalisation of such reward system is good for the morale of the troops. It reassures them that the military hierarchy, and indeed the country at large, appreciate their sacrifices to the fatherland.
We also urge the military authorities to extend such awards to soldiers and men who died on active service. This should be done because it is not all soldiers who display gallantry that survive it; some others die in the process.
Falling in combat, after all, is the ultimate sacrifice to one’s country. As a matter of fact, more elaborate and highly moving ceremonial activities are held for such dead soldiers and men that sometimes make the living green with envy.
The military authorities should also look into the issue of unpaid or delayed payment of allowances to troops on special duties. This had led to near-mutiny in the past.
This should not be so because it dampens morale. The scriptural injunction that the labourer deserves his wages before his sweat dries should be applied.
We do not have to wait for them till they go to the extreme before giving them their due.
In the same vein, the idea of some of the officers and men overstaying at the battlefield should be discouraged.
Apart from the fatigue that this engenders, it also gives the men the impression that there are other motives for sending them to the war front in the first place. Equity demands that they be changed as soon as it is time for them to leave.