President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday said that the country is more important than personal, religious and ethnic differences, urging Nigerians to rise above individual differences and promote values that bind the country together.
Speaking at the emblem appeal launch for the 2013 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration held at the Banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, President Jonathan also urged men and women of the Nigerian Armed Forces to continue to champion the cause of unity and national cohesion; adding that the Armed Forces remembrance, afford the nation the opportunity to celebrate the gallantry of the men of the armed forces living and those who had paid the supreme sacrifice during the second world war, the civil war and various peace keeping missions.
The president underscored the importance of the occasion at the time the nation was grappling with security challenges which had claimed the lives of many Nigerians.
He also urged Nigerians to refuse to be divided by those who impose ethnic and religious meaning on every national issue.
He said, “For me, the strongest message is that of unity. The men and women that we remember today were drawn into national service from all parts of Nigeria and they served gallantly regardless of “They were united by the same purpose, to keep Nigeria secure. Their oneness of purpose and spirit remind us of the significance of national cohesion, together we can achieve a lot.
“Whatever may be our differences; religious, ethnic or personal, Nigeria is more important. We must be united in rising above our differences and promoting values that bind us together.
“We must refuse to be divided by those who impose ethnic and religious meaning on every national issue.
“Soon it will be 100 years since Nigeria emerged as one country, it is a heritage that we all must be proud of.
“The legacy of our past heroes is something we must cherish as we strive together to live an even worthier legacies for future generation.”
The Armed Forces remembrance emblem launch, according to President Jonathan was significant as it is coming just four days after the tragic helicopter crash that claimed the lives of former Kaduna governor, Patrick Yakowa, the former National Security Adviser, Andrew Owoye-Azazi, their aides and pilots of the ill-fated chopper.
The President reiterated the nation’s sincere condolences pledged to support the families of the victims.
He also noted that the occasion afforded the nation the opportunity to celebrate the gallantry of the men of the armed forces living and those who had paid the supreme sacrifice during the second world war, the civil war and various peace keeping missions.
“We remember today, the heroes that have fallen and also our serving military men and women. We remember today, the sacrifice that our armed forces have made and are still making so that our country can continue to live in peace and remain secured,” he said.
“To those who have served and those who are still serving, we thank you for the sacrifice that you have made, sacrifice that is borne out of patriotism, sacrifice that is strong message of inspiration to the rest of us,’’ he said.
He called on Nigerians to reciprocate the efforts and sacrifice made by the fallen heroes by donating generously to the cause.
Earlier, in a welcome remark, the Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada, said that the nation deserved to honour those who had laid down their lives for the unity of the nation.
He said the fund realized would be used, among other things, to support the families and loved ones the departed heroes had left behind.
The President, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President, Senate President David Mark and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, were decorated with the emblem.
Also decorated with the emblem were former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, former President, Shehu Shagari, Adamawa Governor, Murtala Nyako and the PDP National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Ibrahim, the Service Chiefs, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, Ministers and other important dignitaries were also decorated with the emblem.