The president, represented by Vice President, Mohammed Namadi Sambo, stated this at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja, during the burial of two officers and 13 soldiers killed in Darfur, Sudan, and in Operation Boyona, set up to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-eastern part of the country.
He said the sacrifices of the dead troops ‘would not and will never be in vain’, pledging that his administration would continue to strengthen and improve the country’s security capabilities.
Urging the the military not to be daunted by the loss, President Jonathan affirmed that Nigeria was winning the war against terrorism, as the state of emergency declared in the three Northern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa was yielding fruitful results.
He said: “As members of the Armed Forces, you must appreciate that the military profession is a hazardous job and in conflicts like this, there are bound to be casualties, including deaths. Rather than despair and lose focus of our objective, it is incumbent on us to respect and honour the dead by giving them a befitting burial while still strategizing to defeat the enemy.”
President Jonathan assured the families of the late military personnel, including those still serving, that the country would never forsake them, urging them to “Remember that your loss is also the nation’s loss. Be comforted that your departed loved ones are resting in the bosom of the Lord. May the Almighty grant you the fortitude to bear the loss.”
In their separate remarks, the Minister of State for Defence, Eleru Olusola Obada, the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Saad Ibrahim, and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, stated that the soldiers had made Nigeria proud and had laid their lives to ensure that peace and unity continued to reign in the country.
They assured that the military would not relent in its efforts to ensure that the peace and unity of the country is not jeopardised.
Speaking on behalf of the relations of the dead soldiers, Pastor Iliya Joshua Amuda thanked President Jonathan, the military authorities and Nigerians for their support, appealing for an urgent end to the activities of the insurgents.
Highlight of the event was the laying of wreath by Vice President Sambo and other invited guests and also the presentation of national colours to the next of kin of the deceased.