President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday travelled to Borno to celebrate the Independence Anniversary with soldiers fighting Boko Haram.
According to a statement by Olatokunbo Adesanya, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Air Force, the president was received at an Air Force base by service chiefs and the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima.
“Immediately after the brief reception at the NAF Base, President Buhari was airlifted with a NAF Agusta 109 Light Utility Helicopter to the venue of the celebrations in Maimalari Barracks,” Adesanya said.
“While addressing the frontline personnel, the president expressed the nation’s gratitude for the sacrifices being made by members of the Armed Forces. He added that without their efforts, the relative peace being enjoyed by Nigerians would not have been possible.
“He therefore commended them and promised that the nation would not spare expenses in ensuring the welfare of military personnel as well as in further enhancing their capacity.”
The trip is believed to have been made after the televised Independence Day broadcast by the president wherein he highlighted the achievements of his administration and the challenges being faced.
President Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, also provided more information on the president’s visit, stating that in an impromptu speech he made after inspecting the military guard of honour, President Buhari praised the gallantry of the Armed Forces for the successes recorded in defeating terrorism in the North-East and lawlessness in the Niger Delta and gave assurances that the country’s Armed Forces will be equipped with the best the country can afford, Shehu said in a statement.
“Under this leadership, there will be resources as much as the country can afford to support your operations. As long as you live and in service, your rights will be guarded jealousy,” the president said.
He asked members of the three arms of the military to return the gesture by being steadfast and loyal.
“You must stand firm for your country. The centre is determined to hold. You must be loyal to the centre. If Nigeria breaks, you are the first line of losers so you must stand firm for your selves and for the country. The security of the country is in your hands and in the hands of God,” he stressed.
President Buhari reiterated an earlier warning in his National Day Broadcast that the country will not break up under his watch and dismissed those agitating for its division as dreamers who were not born when the country went through a debilitating civil war in which two million lives were lost.
“Those who are making noises were not born, so they don’t know what we went through. They don’t know. I like to remind you that whatever happens, you are at the front lines of the defence of the citizens wherever they live. This administration is prepared to protect all citizens residing in all parts of the country.”
The president commended the fortitude of the wounded-in-action soldiers who are receiving treatment and wished them quick recovery when he met them in a special tent.
Buhari also inspected several military equipment, newly-acquired and those refurbished put on display as well as some of the new acquisitions of the Air Force that included night-vision Mi 35 attack helicopters.
In his welcome speech at the ceremony, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonisakin, commended the president for showing a lot of care for the Armed Forces.
He assured the president that the country’s military will continue to be loyal to the administration and expressed their readiness to guarantee the sovereignty of the nation and the security of its people.
The defence chief said the visit by the president will rejig and boost the spirit of the Armed Forces, assuring that with better morale, they will fight better.
The president was joined in cutting the anniversary cake by the host governor, Kashim Shettima; the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari; the Chief of Defence Staff, General Olonisakin; the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai; the Chief of Air Staff, Abubakar Sadiq; the Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok Ekwe Ibas; the Theatre Commander, Ibrahim Attahir and the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar El-Kanemi.
“The visit of President Buhari went a long way in boosting the morale of the frontline personnel, who were obviously excited at seeing their C-in-C,” Adesanya said.