Chief of Defence Staff to military: it’s time to get over shock of plane crash

Officers and men of the Nigerian Armed Forces have been urged to maintain the high spirit and not allow the death of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 other military personnel to affect the morale.

Chief of Defence Staff General Lucky Irabor, who spoke yesterday, said even though the passage of Attahiru and others was painful, officers and men must focus on their constitutional roles.

President Muhammadu Buhari also spoke again on the death of the officers, lamenting that it had set back his administration’s war against insecurity.

The COAS, three majors-General and seven other military men lost their lives when an Air force jet flying them to Kaduna crashed Friday evening. They were buried Saturday at the Military Cemetery in Abuja.

Others, who spoke on the crash were the Nigeria Governors’ Forum Chairman, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz; the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division, Nigerian Army, Maj-Gen Danjuma

Ali-Keffi; Osun State Government; Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, George Akume and father of one of the deceased, Rufus Asaniyi.

At the three-day Moslem funeral prayer held at the late Attahiru’s home, CDS Irabor said: “My message to members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria is that they should remain steadfast and committed to their constitutional roles in this trying period.

“Their spirit should not be dampened by the unfortunate incident,” he said.

The Director Islamic Affairs, Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. Shehu Mustapha led the prayer. He sought God’s intervention to end insecurity in the country. Asking God to grant Nigerian leaders the wisdom and strength to pilot the affairs of the nation, Mustapha prayed for the repose of the souls of the late officers. He also pleaded with God to grant the families of the deceased the fortitude to bear their losses.

A former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau; Chairman National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Buba Marwa, Chief of Air Staff Oladayo Amao, Chairman Senate Committee on Army Ali Ndume and former Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako attended the prayer.

Speaking when Governor Fayemi led an NGF team to pay him a condolence visit, President Buhari described the death of the officers and men as a setback to the nation’s current fight against insecurity.

Fayemi was accompanied by the Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC) National Caretaker Committee and Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, and Governor Sani Bello of Niger State.

The President told them that only God knew why the accident happened.

Buhari said: “This is a situation that only God knows when it will happen and it happened at a time when the security situation in the country is a fundamental issue.

“And to lose choice officers has increased our problem but we know what we are in for and we will continue to work hard and pray hard so that God will give us the power to appreciate and apply ourselves to the problem.

“The people, who elected us, know the promises we made within the time…the circumstances which we find ourselves…we will keep on trying and continue to do our best.”

While affirming that the death of the officers was a big blow, Fayemi said the incident should not slow down the crusade against insecurity down.

His words: “We’ve read your statement and this delegation of governors consider it a duty and as part of our obligation as your representatives to commiserate with you over the loss of your gallant officers.

“We know it is an event that has touched you. When we mentioned the necessity for a change of service chiefs, you were determined to get the best set of people, you gave your assurance and the military was beginning to feel the impact.

“We know that this is a major blow and you’re unrelenting in your quest/commitment to ensure peace and security in our country.

“It’s unfortunate the losses we have suffered. We only pray God gives both the families and the country the fortitude to bear the loss, pray that God gives our country greater resolve to continue on the path that the late COAS toed.

“For us, we must defeat banditry, insurgency and criminality. That’s the mandate you gave them. This should not lead to any retreat or surrender on our part.

“As you have promised, we know that our country will do everything to ensure that the administration will do all to take care of the families of the departed officers. It’s an indication of how protected the active officers would be.”

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu, in a statement, said the Saudi King also commiserated with Buhari over the death of the officers.

He added that the monarch of the oil-rich Asian country expressed full solidarity with Nigeria following the national tragedy.

According to the presidential aide, the two leaders also exchanged pleasantries on the occasion of Eid which was marked after the 30-day Ramadan fast.

They prayed for peace, security and progress in the two nations and the sub-regions. The Saudi King also prayed for the repose of the souls of the military men.

Buhari expressed happiness with the King and thanked him for standing with Nigeria in all situations.

culled from THE NATION