By Sumaila Ogbaje
Abuja, Oct. 23, 2020 The Nigerian Legion and the National Personal Assets Acquisition Scheme (NAPAAS), on Friday, distributed palliatives and other empowerment items to the widows of fallen heroes and ex-service men in Abuja.
The items were distributed at the Legion’s Humanitarian Day celebration on Friday in Abuja as part of activities lined up to commemorate the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
The items include 5,000 tricycles known as Keke and 10,000 motorcycles to be given under hire purchase to ex-service men while 30,000 bags of rice was distributed to the widows as palliative.
The Chief Executive Officer of NAPAAS, Alhaji Muhammad Bello, said the humanitarian day was introduced exclusively to recognise and honour the widows and children of fallen heroes who gave their lives in serving the nation.
Bello said there was the need to recognise the fallen heroes beyond the symbolism of presentation of a few items and photo opportunities with the ones they left behind.
He said the gesture was to help the widows cushion the pain of losing their loved ones and bread winners and take care of education of their children to ensure that they grow up to become proud sons and daughters of their departed fathers.
According to him, NAPAAS was motivated principally by the wordings in Nigeria’s national anthem which ‘pledged that the “labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain”, and it had adopted as its motto.
“NAPAAS has tried its best within its limitations to provide for and link up our ex-servicemen with items such as tricycles, motorcycles on hirecpurchase and joint Venture commercial partnership in transport, health, agriculture, housing and skill acquisition.
“We want to do more but we have encountered challenges in our endeavour to be of service to our fallen heroes.
“These include the general inflationary trend in the country, the recent fuel increase, and the Covid-19 pandemic which ravaged the country for the most part of the year,” he said.
Also speaking, the National Project Coordinator, NAPAAS, Mr Eze Nnadi, explained that the organisation had already distributed 96 of the tricycles and 1,170 motorcycles to some ex-service men across the country.
Nnadi said that 100 buses would also be given to the legion on hire purchase, adding that no initial deposit was required before collection of any of the items.
He added that the empowerment tools taken on hire purchase would be paid back in two instalment.
The National Chairman, Nigerian Legion, Brig.-Gen. Adakole Akpa (retired), said the Humanitarian Day was the most important day that the legion cherished as it touched humanity.
Akpa said the day was set aside to touch lives of those that are living.
According to him, our colleagues, who were husbands, fathers and compatriots are the fallen heroes while the widows, children and other dependents are the ‘Reai Life Heroes’.
He said that the best way to celebrate humanitarian day in the Legion’s context was to take care of “our Real Life Heroes”.
Akpa said that the vision of the Nigerian Legion and Ministry of Defence for the families of fallen heroes could be captured with the acronym ‘AIM’ which is to Alleviate Suffering; Improve lives and Maintain their Human Dignity.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment to the welfare of the widows and ex-service men, adding that patience and resilience of widows and dependents of fallen heroes would not go unnoticed.
Responding, the President of Military Widows Association, Mrs Veronica Aloko, thanked the armed forces for recognising the plights of the widows and children of fallen heroes as well as those of ex-service men in the country.
Aloko said that in a society where widows were stigmatised, the military had not overlooked the families of fallen heroes.
She also commended the legion and its partners for their support to the military widows and their children towards ameliorating their plights.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that part of activities at the occasion was the donation of cash and other items by private organisations and well meaning individuals to the widows.
A medical team from the Defence Headquarters also conducted a medical outreach with attendees at the programme receiving attention from the personnel.