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Everyday Heroes

Everyday Heroes: The Nigerian Armed Forces

Annually, 15th of January has been set aside by the Nigerian Government as the Armed Forces Remembrance Day. This is a day set aside to call to remembrance the labours of some heroes; past and present, specifically within the ranks of the Nigerian military; the sacrifices they have made and are still making, to ensure that the oath they have taken to protect this country, its borders and its citizens are kept to the latter.

Sacrificial Lambs for the Exodus

Talking about sacrifices, the most ultimate is usually regarded in terms of the loss/losses of life/lives. This very ultimate sacrifice has been characteristic of the Nigerian Armed forces, especially in the most recent times. It is this sacrificial characteristic of the job that makes them our Everyday Heroes. Putting their lives at stake for the sake of a nation, sacrificing their comfort, leisure and pleasure for the comfort, leisure and pleasure of others. It is such an immeasurable and boundless dimensions of their sacrifices that warrants them the position of heroes.

The Nigerian Armed Forces: On Water, On the Ground, In the Air

These words are attributed to Winston Churchill, “We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost maybe, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” It seems as though the Armed Forces was an offshoot of these words. Nigerian Armed Forces basically are the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, comprising of the following service branches;

  • The Nigerian Army, which is the land branch, or the branch responsible for land warfare operations of the Nigerian Armed Forces. With its about 200,000 personnel, it is the largest component of the Nigerian Armed Forces.[1] It operates with the motto “Victory is from God alone.”
  • The Nigerian Navy, which is the sea branch of the Nigerian Armed Forces, and is also considered as one of the largest Navies on the African continent, consisting of several thousands of personnel, including the Coast Guard.[2] The Nigerian Navy has its motto “Onward Together.”
  • The Nigerian Air-force, which is the air arm of the Nigerian Armed Forces. With its about 10,000 personnel, and good fleet of aircrafts of different sorts and functions, it is regarded as one of the largest Air-force outfits in Africa.[3] Its motto is “Willing… Able… Ready.”

Since the creation of its current form in 1960, the Nigerian Armed Forces has been instrumental in ensuring the safety, minimizing the chaos, enhancing the peace-status, and strengthening the bond and the relations between Nigeria and other neighbouring countries. But these have also come at great costs; these costs vary in extents and grade, some are in temporal injuries, some are in permanent disability and maiming of the bodies of victims, yet still, others eventually end up in laying their lives.

To our Heroes; to those whose offerings are “blood, toil, tears and sweat”, to those who mean well but end up seeing ‘hell’ (figuratively speaking), to those to whom life looks like death, and death looks like life; some in the air, some on water, others on ground; some still alive while the others are now absent; we shine the lights on you, we remember you, and we celebrate you always. The Nigerian Armed Forces, Our Everyday Heroes.

[1] accessed 17/01/2019

[2] accessed 17/01/2019

[3] accessed 17/01/2019


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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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