The Nigerian Army on Friday retired 342 Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) from service after equipping them with skills for self-reliance.
The retirees comprises 243 from the Army, 100 Navy and 16 Air Force personnel were disengaged at the Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, NAFRC, Oshodi, Lagos, where they were camped for six-month reintegration as well as business and craftsmanship trainings to ease their life outside the uniform.
Speaking at the ceremony, NAFRC Commandant, Air Vice Marshal Kingsley Lar, said they were the first batch to be retired this year, adding that the second set would include 100 paramilitary and civil servants from key ministries who are due for retirement.
He commended the retirees for dedicating 35 years of their lives to the good of humanity, a task which has been mentally and physically strenuous.
“As you graduate today, you have transferred from active military duty to the legion of veterans who continue to make positive contributions to the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” AVM Lar told the retirees.
According to him, a total of 359 were billed to attend the pre-retirement training at NAFRC but some of them were returned to their respective services for various reasons while a trainee trainer identified as Master Warrant Officer, MWO, Garuba Mohammed died on June 5, barely two weeks to the graduation.
“When they initially assembled in January, they were about 365 of them. Some were returned for various reasons and then we eventually commenced the training with about 343 of them. All of them completed the training but sadly, early this month, we lost one of the trainees.
“So, we graduated 342 but in keeping with guidelines on COVID-19, we only had symbolic graduation here today. We could not assemble all 342 of them here. Just about 65 of them participated in the ceremony.
“Like I have always said, you cannot separate development from security. The more people are trained, the more people can leave here and go and establish businesses and the more people you take out of the unemployment market. If you have people employed, the tendency for them to be engaging in criminal activities will be reduced.
“So defence headquarters has approved 100 slot for the police, paramilitary agencies including strategic ministries, departments and agencies of government to take up.
If these agencies subscribe for the course, the next course is going to have people from the Police, Customs, Correctional Service, Immigration, Nema, Ministry of Finance, Defence, Foreign Affairs and so on.
“These are soldiers. They served 35 years, all they know is themselves but if you bring a hundred civilians, you are creating room for more engagements. They make friends outside their core areas of competence and they are able to leverage the linkages that they create to be able to even do far better in retirement,” he said.
AVM Lar said the COVID-19 lockdown did not affect the field trips aspect of the trainings because all practicals were concluded before the government banned movements. He also explained that all theoretical aspects were concluded inside NAFRC.
In spite of the pandemic, the Commandant described the retirees as fortunate, noting that President Muhammad Buhari had solved the major problem retirees faced.
“He approved a living pension for retiring military personnel unlike before where it was so little such that they did not even bother to register for the pension.
But now, what you earn in retirement for some of the categories is even higher than what they were earning currently in service. Resources available to them have been greatly enhanced.
“The fear is that some of them may go out there and some bad guys in the society may want to benefit from where they did not sow. So, my advice is that there is no magic money anywhere that you can get that is better than the pension you will receive legitimately.
“Use the resources wisely. Invest in low risk areas so that you can sleep well and enjoy your retirement with your loved ones whom you did not have time with over the years,” he said