Coincidentally, the 1966 Nigerian coup d’état also began on January 15, 1966, when Nigerian soldiers led by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and Emmanuel Ifeajuna stage the first coup d’etat.
The Armed Forces Remembrance Day (AFRD), is a day specially dedicated, celebrated and observed on January 15, to commemorate the servicemen of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
By Richard Odusanya.
This year’s event is significant as the Nigerian military has been involved in many successful operations in the war against terrorists, insurgents in several part of the nation and the unenviable task of keeping the nation together in unity.
Undoubtedly, the significant in reflecting on the sacrifices made by the military to unite and ensure peace in the country cannot be overemphasized.
The event, celebrated on January 15, each year, also honours veterans of World War I and II, as well as the Nigerian Civil War.
It is a day set aside for sober reflections on the significance of the armed forces to the country.
While the Armed Forces Remembrance Day is celebrated on November 11 every year globally, it is known as the armistice day, commemorating the end of the first World War.
But with the formal end of the Nigerian Civil War following the surrender of the Biafran secessionists on January 15, 1970, the date was changed to mark the restoration of Nigeria’s unity.
Unfortunately, many people had the impression that the coup was tribal in nature in view of the way casualties were recorded.
Since then, Nigeria has never been the same and Nigeria has never attained anything near the dreams of the founding fathers and nationalists and fought for independence of the nation.
Again, this date was a turning point in Nigeria’s history because it terminated the First Republic and initiated the crisis that culminated in the disastrous civil war from 1967 to 1970.
Although most of Nigeria’s current population of about 220 million was not born when the country’s first coup was staged 56 years ago, its legacy lingers on.
Jan 15, 1966 was unarguably a Night Of Terror.
Sadly, what was the dreaded sundown ‘revenge’ coup was masterminded by Lt-Colonel Murtala Muhammed and many northern military officers – the first shots shattered the peace of the night at the Abeokuta Garrison of the Nigerian Army a few minutes after midnight on July 29, 1966.
This is the series of unfortunate events that signposted the Nigeria we find ourselves. Therefore, in the spirit of togetherness and absolute solemnity;
It’s time for sober reflection, not celebration – today’s event provides us an opportunity to look back and reflect on our journey as a nation.
It is against this backdrop that, as we celebrate our heroes, even in the spirit of love and ‘Nigerianity.’
let us ponder on the dire lessons of our history, using this period as a time for sober reflection. Let us hold on to the fact that
“though tribes and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand”.
As the giant of Africa, we must arise as compatriots and reinvent the Nigeria of our dream, where “peace and justice shall reign.
In conclusion, the event of today leading to the general elections in February and March should be the moment everyone, especially the leaders come together to reinvent a nation where peace, justice and prosperity thrive.