By Modupe Oremule
Lagos – The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. -Gen. Tukur Buratai, said that the Nigerian Army would continue to use the West African Social Activities (WASA) as a cultural affinity to wax stronger and tackle national challenges.
He said this at the combined WASA organised by the 81 Division and the headquarters of the Nigerian Army Engineers which ended late on Saturday at the Bonny Cantonement, Victoria Island.
The COAS said that the cultural affinity preached by WASA would serve as a cohesive force that would stand and face the challenges confronting the country.
“This is a complete Nigerian community, there’s nobody or there is no culture or tradition that is not present in virtually every barracks and cantonment of the Nigerian Army.
“We always use this opportunity to harness these cultural affinities for us to wax together as a single community, not only to administer ourselves within the barracks.
“Also, it is to serve a cohesive force that will stand and face all the challenges confronting our country,this is quite unique and this is what we stand to always foster,” he said.
The Army Chief also said, “In order to ensure unity in our country,inorder to ensure we have the best interms of community integration, cultural integration and of course cultural development.
“We will continue to foster this very important unifying factor within the Nigerian Army and, indeed and by extension, within the Nigeria society,” he said.
Buratai also urged the commanders of different units to promote the bond of unity and understanding, saying that it was the only way to sustain professionalism in discharging their constitutional responsibility.
“I want to urge all commanders to, at all times, ensure that this bond of unity is always promoted.
“And this is how we will continue to sustain the professionalism and responsiveness in the discharge of our constitutional responsibilities,” he said.
He also tasked the officers on continued loyalty, dedication and discipline.
“I want to urge all the officers and men to remain loyal to the government, remain dedicated, remain disciplined and be your brother’s keepers,” he said.
He added that such occasions as the WASA, also called for a reflection, especially, in adminstrative and operational activities.
Also, Maj.-Gen. Olubunmi Irefin, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division, in his opening speech said that though the outgone year was challenging in training, it brought about positive gains.
“The 2019 training activities, though challenging, was very interesting for the Nigeria Army.
“And for the 81 Division Area of Responsibility, all the various training exercises programmed for the year were successfully held as scheduled with positive gains,”he said.
Irefin noted that the successes achieved in 2019 would be leveraged on in 2020.
Also, Maj.-Gen. JS Malu, the Corp Commander, Nigerian Army Engineers said that it would double its efforts in line with the COAS strategic directives which aimed to sustain professionalism.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the COAS, who is the special guest alongside senior officers toured the various stands.
The Yoruba cultural troupe performed the Sango (god of iron) act where fire was oozing out from the mouth of the ‘diety’ to the admiration of all the guests.
Also, the Nupe,Igbo, Hausa/Fulani cultural troupes performed at the occasion and were applauded.
The tug of war which featured the senior officers and magajias saw the magajias winning.
No fewer than 25 officers from different units within the 81 Division received various awards for their outstanding performance interms of discipline commitment and professionalism in the outgone year.
At 6p.m, the beating of the retreat (a ceremony where flags are usually lowered to signify the end of the year activities) and lightning of the camp fire was conducted by some soldiers.
NAN reports that WASA is an age long event in the Nigerian Army which dates back to the Allied Forces, World War II.
It was designed for officers and soldiers to celebrate with their families and friends and thank God for an eventful year because victory is from God alone.
The event had in attendance the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC), Nigeria Air Force, Logistics Command, commanders of various units and retired top army officers.