ABUJA – President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday paid glowing tribute to the nation’s Armed Forces for their courage and sacrifices in the war against insurgency in parts of the country.
The President was speaking at the inauguration of the emblem and appeal fund for the 2015 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Jonathan restated the Federal Government’s commitment to the welfare of military veterans and   families of the nation’s fallen heroes.
“We salute and appreciate the courage and sacrifices of men and women of our armed forces in grappling with the wave of terrorism in some parts of our dear country.
“They have displayed unalloyed loyalty and commitment to Nigeria. In their demanding task to keep Nigeria one and united, some of our gallant officers and men have lost their lives.
“To these officers and men we pay tribute and pray fervently for the repose of their souls,“ he said.
Reports state that the 2015 edition has as its theme, “Appreciating the Nigerian Armed Forces“.
The President called on all Nigerians to identify with the Armed Forces by procuring and wearing the emblem with pride as well as donating generously to the appeal fund.
He took responsibility for the yet-to-be-redeemed financial pledges made by individuals and corporate bodies to the fund during the 2014 celebration.
Jonathan said that his office was to blame for not contacting those who made the pledges and directed his Chief of Staff to compile their names with a view to reaching out to them.
“After this emblem launch, I encourage all Nigerians to procure and wear the emblems with pride throughout the remembrance period – that is from today till Jan. 15 next year.
“This will symbolise our appreciation for the sacrifices of our fallen heroes and veterans and also assure those in service that their fatherland will never forsake them and will continue to remember them.
“Last year, I instructed that all should identify with our armed forces, and this year is no exception.
“I, personally, will put on the emblem from today till Jan. 15, and in the State House it is a tradition from tomorrow that for you to come in, you must wear the emblem,“ Jonathan stated.
The President said that as part of efforts to improve the welfare of ex-service men, the government recently implemented an increment in the military.
He noted with delight that the Military Pension Scheme was now running efficiently.
Jonathan said that the Minister of Defence had been directed to initiate programmes that would improve the living standard of veterans in the country.
He commended the Nigeria Legion for introducing the Nigerian Legion Humanitarian Day as part of activities marking the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration.
He said the legion was using the event to reach out to the society through social works, humanitarian activities as well as empowering women and dependants of the nation’s fallen heroes.
He also lauded the efforts of state governors who are patrons of the Legion in their various states and urged them to continue to lend their support to the veterans.
Earlier, the National Chairman of the Nigerian Legion, Col. Micah Gayya (rtd), said that out of the N105 million pledged last year, only N30 million had been redeemed.
He said the pledges were made in public, leaving the legion with no avenue to tell the world that they had not been redeemed.
While calling on all those concerned to redeem their pledges, Gayya urged Nigerians to pledge amounts they could redeem.
On his part, the Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Aliyu Gusau (rtd), attributed the continued unity and corporate existence of the country to the patriotism and sacrifices of the Armed Forces.
Gusau also lauded the commitment of the military to the fight against insurgency in the north eastern part of the country and urged Nigerians to continue to support their efforts.
Newsmen reports that Jonathan and former Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, were decorated with the emblems.
Also decorated were the Inspector -General of Police, Mr Suleiman Abba, the three Service Chiefs and other top government functionaries.