RETIRED military officers have asked the federal government to upgrade the Veterans Affairs Division of the defence ministry to a full fledge ministry to cater for their welfare and that of their families.
Over the last decade, the welfare of military operatives has become a major issue in Nigeria due to the growing level of insecurity in the country. Thousands of them have lost their lives in the Boko Haram insurgency and to other hoodlums like Fulani cattle herdsmen, kidnappers, armed robbers and terrorist groups.
Apart from the loss of life, bringing about the need to cater for their families, many of them have suffered all sorts of horrific injuries during the course of duty. Over the weekend, the ex-soldiers held a three-day retreat in Abuja after which they issued a communiqué titled Unification of Military Veterans Associations.
In it they called on governments at all levels to exploit the untapped resources that abound in them. The veterans said they had resolved to operate under one umbrella body known as the Veterans Federation of Nigeria and pledged loyalty to the government and readiness to contribute to national security and development.
Among other things, they called on the ministry of defence and Defence Headquarters to develop a database for them. They said such a database should detail their strength, areas of specialisation and experience for the purpose re-engagement.
At the opening of the retreat, the chief of defence staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin stressed the need to have a unified veterans’ body in the country. He noted that the proliferations of veterans associations have not yielded desired results hence the need to can unify such bodies.