By Oki Samson
It was an atmosphere of ecstatic joy in St. Charles Lwanga Catholic Church Nigeria, Army Cantonment, Ikeja, Lagos where General Officer Commanding 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Maj. Gen. LA Fejokwu led the men, officers and families under his administration for the annual Nigerian Army Day celebration (NADCEL) 2021. Full of thanksgiving to the Lord, Maj. Gen. Fejokwu expressed his gratitude to God while also commending the efforts of the gallant Nigerian Army. He was accompanied by his wife
and Chairperson, 81 Division NAOWA, Mrs. Oghenerukevwe Fejokwu,
Brig Gen Raymond .M. Ochei, Brig Gen MLD Saraso, Brig. Gen Saka John Edet, Brig Gen E.O. Oshunsam, their families, and other officers to dance gracefully in the presence of the Lord in the interdenominational service attended by Oki Samson of Trek Africa Newspaper.
The GOC Fejokwu then read the goodwill message of his superior, the Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. F. Yahaya. ‘It is my singular honour and privilege to celebrate this Army Day which marks 158th anniversary of the Nigerian Army. It is coming when the peace of the country is been threatened by insecurity but the Nigerian Army will not be deterred. This celebration showcases the Nigerian Army and is to honor fallen heroes.’
The Chief of Army Staff Maj. Gen. Farouk Yahaya asked the congregation to observe a minute silence in memory of the departed former COAS Ibrahim Attahiru and others who passed in the ill fated crash earlier in the year, ‘their sacrifices cannot be forgotten’, he affirmed.
The army general mentioned ‘information sharing, collaboration among security agencies as prerequisites for winning the war against Boko Haram, banditry, and other security issues. The Nigerian Army will leave no stone unturned. I urge you on to keep momentum of the operation.’
‘I appreciate and pledge unalloyed support for the President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR. I wish us all happy NADCEL celebration 2021’, he concluded.
In the same vein, Maj. Gen. Fejokwu sent notes of caution to officers and family in Division 81. ‘For the children, wives, and sometimes the soldiers, I want to re-emphasize that anybody who fights in any of the barracks will be shipped out of the barracks before we even find out what led to the fight.’
‘Any soldier who gets involved in illegality like getting involved in land matters, and others will be dismissed the same day he is caught. I am begging you. That’s why I come down here to establish it. Behave well. You don’t need to know me. You don’t need to come and beg me. Please be a soldier. Things are improving in the army welfare, be content with what you are being given. Be well dressed in and out. Wear your uniforms properly. Don’t turn your barracks to the poultry or farm. Adhere to simple instructions.’
‘I congratulate you all. May we celebrate more NADCEL. I commit you into the hands of the Lord. May you continue to prosper in all your genuine endeavors’, the GOC Div 81 prayed.
In his sermon during the service, the guest preacher Ven. Dr. (Col) NZ Davou prayed for the Army that God will neither leave them not forsake them just as He kept Joshua and He did for Moses. He prayed: ‘The Lord will be with the nation. That the Lord will be with officers in their duty posts and everyone on the frontline in the Northeast, Southsouth, and everywhere.’
The priest encouraged the force to return to the Lord and ask for His mercy for the force and for the nation. ‘Enough is enough of putting away the grace of God. Enough is enough of trusting in mammon and charms. God will keep you as you trust in God as declared in Psalms 23’ as he reminisced on the value and respect that the Nigerian Army had when he traveled for ECOMOG operations in Liberia and Sudan.
He also admonished the family, ‘The Lord’s General is beyond the ranks. Pray for your husbands. Your strength is dependent on his strength. You shield him in prayers. A prayerless wife is a powerless wife. A prayerful woman is a powerful woman. She can move mountains. Stand strong for your fathers, mothers, wives, and husbands. May no sudden death steal your joy.’
The Christian Women Fellowship and Catholic Women Organization added pep to the celebration as they did a dramatic music ministration in the service. A Media advocacy group, Prayers and Support for the Armed Forces led by the immediate past Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos Chapter, Dr. Qasim Akinreti also joined the interdenominational church service. They prayed for the Army and asked all Nigerians to pray and confess right for the Army and country rather than curse the nation.