From the mangroves, of troubled Africa states, for 35 years, they fought wars, they dripped, starved, bled and even watched collaborators die from the firing power of enemy forces in their bid to protect Nigeria and her strategic attention.
As they merged on the Muhammadu Buhari Hall of the Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre (NAFRC), Oshodi in Lagos for their retirement ceremony from the Nigerian military, 60 of the 342 retirees of Course 01/2020 could not hide their enthusiasm.
The rationale for their enthusiasm was not far-fetched. Interchanges with some of the retirees disclosed that extra than two-thirds of the total number enlisted died along the way. A greater preponderance was killed in numerous battles and, in most cases, they watched their colleagues gunned down by rioter but could not offer help as they had to take cover in order to stay alive and continue fighting.
For illustration, of the over 1,000 Ratings enlisted into the Nigerian Navy (NN) Course One, it was gathered that just about 100 of them retired on that day. Also, the Nigerian Army (NA) recruitment of 1985 had over 750 entrants but 243 of them retired successfully after ratifying through the six-month reintegration to civil life training.
Their joy realized no ends as they exchanged banter after the passing out parade. The soldiers saw they’re residing the assistance in one piece as no mean feat, remembering faced vicious enemies from the United Nations, African Union (AU) and ECOMOG missions in Liberia, Sudan, Sierra-Leone, Congo, Senegal, Somalia and even in the war against militants in the Niger Delta and the guerilla conflict in northern Nigeria, among other insurrections.
Although quite a smattering of them had visible scars suggestive of injuries sustained in operations, they had no sadness dedicating their youthful days in service to society.
In chats with some of the soldiers, they shared their near-death knowledges and how they never thought they could make it out of the military alive.
Among those who shared their ordeals were Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Sunday Olateju; MWO Peters Adeshina; Army Warrant Officer (AWO) Idrees Sadam; Navy Warrant Officer (NWO) Vitalis Anyawu and NWO Nandon Dashe.
Olateju, who said of the 750 youths enlisted in the Nigerian Army in 1985, 243 of them made it to graduation.
“These 35 years are bewildering because it is God that has been with me for so long,” he said. “I did not expect that I would live up to this year in the army, but because God has fated me to be here with persistence and profession, I am able to scale through.
“There were many drawbacks and a lot of things took place both within and outside Nigeria. There were times that the thoughts of my friends’ death made me sad and sober. I can tell you we were 750 in 1985 when we joined the Army, but 243 of us graduated today. If you subtract the amount from those alive, you would know that it was the grace of God that saw us through.
“There is no operation that is so good. I participated in the United Nations ECOMOG operation in Liberia, Sudan, Sierra-Leone and other countries, but the occasion I can never forget was the fight against the Boko Haram sect in 2014.Click To Claim Your Point