Late Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru tirelessly preached loyalty to democracy. He delivered the same message to men and officers of the Army in Adamawa State just hours before he died on Friday, Onimisi Alao reports.
He was scheduled to deliver a speech at the ‘Corporal and Below Competition’ involving men of military formations under the 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, holding at the Gibson Jalo Military Cantonment, Jimeta, Yola.
It was planned as closing ceremony of the 3 Div Inter-Brigade competition.
The competition had started on Tuesday May 18 and attracted competitors from army formations across the states under the 3 Division.
They sweated it out in different physical fitness and skills, developing sporting events around the expansive precincts of the Gibson Jalo Cantonment.
Hundreds of such junior soldiers gathered at the Drill events field where the final race cum hurdle and obstacle crossings were staged.
Competitors during the final of the 3 Div Corporal and Below Competition
The Chief of Army Staff Attahiru, who was still hale and hearty at that time, was represented by the acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 3rd Armoured Division, otherwise simply called 3 Div, Brig Gen Bello Muhammed.
“It is highly gratifying and heartwarming for me to bring you special greetings and goodwill message of our amiable COAS, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru,” the 3 Div GOC began.
He said the 3 Div Inter-Brigade Corporal and Below Competition was designed to improve regimentation, leadership qualities and physical fitness among troops.
He added: “Competition develops the resilience required to win battles, hence this activity is anchored on the Chief of Staff’s vision which s ‘A Nigerian Army that is repositioned to professionally defeat all adversaries’.”
Delivering the message of the COAS to the noncommissioned officers, who participated in the competition and other officers at the closing ceremony, he urged them to support democracy by being loyal all the time.
“”It is the duty of all officers and men to be absolutely loyal to constituted authorities. I therefore urge you to remain focused, professional and apolitical in the discharge of your duties,” he quoted the Chief of Army Staff as having declared.
According to the GOC, the Chief of Army Staff stressed all soldiers must resist by all means any call by unpatriotic Nigerians for military interference in the current political dispensation.
The event in Yola took place in all cheerfulness without the slightest hint that something would hit the Nigerian Army and the nation itself just a couple of hours later.
The event at the Gibson Jalo Cantonment in Yola, home ground of the 23 Armoured Brigade of the Nigerian Army, had ended just before the Friday Jumat prayers.
The 3 Div Acting GOC, Bello Muhammad, in his usual friendly manner exchanged banters with the newsmen and then left for his prayers as everyone else.
Our correspondent learnt when news of the death of COAS broke on Friday evening, the 3 Div acting GOC was so shattered with grief that he cried openly.
Muhammad had been in Yola not far back as the Brigade Commander of the 23 Brigade headquarters at the Gibson Jalo Cantonment.
This was before his elevation and posting to the 3 Div in Jos.
So, his visit to Yola on Friday was a home coming for him.
One of the boreholes also commissioned.
One of eight blocks of Corporal and Below family quarters commissioned at the Gibson Jalo Cantoonment that he commissioned on the day of his death through 3 Div acting GOC Brig Gen Bello Muhammed.
Before attending the final of the 3 Div Inter-Brigade Competition where he delivered the message of the now late Chief of Army Staff, Brig Gen Bello Muhammed had, in his capacity as representative of the COAS, taken time to commission projects which his 3 Div executed at the Gibson Jalo Cantonment.
The projects included six motorised boreholes and eight blocks of quarters for 80 Corporal and Below families.