Course 27 regular intake of the Nigerian Defence Academy which commenced on the 4th of January 1980 in Kaduna, had the enviable privilege of haven been screened by a selection Board headed by Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (rtd).
At the end of the screening exercise, 154 Cadets comprising 100 Nigerian Army Cadets, 24 Nigerian Navy Cadets and 30 Nigerian Airforce Cadets became members of 27 regular course.
After the three years training at the NDA, 103 members were commissioned. This is because 120 Cadets reported for the training while seven fell by the wayside.
The course boosted of 16 Army Generals, 12 Navy Admirals and Commodores, and 10 Airforce officers of the rank of Air Vice Marshall and Air Commodores.
For many years, these vastly trained military officers sojourned and toiled for the security as well as protection of Nigeria’s territorial integrity while not bothering to keep tabs on the progress and challenges many of their colleagues and family members encountered in life.
However, the gruesome death of one of their own, Navy Captain Ugochukwu Ezeorah at Force headquarters in 2011 when Boko Haram’s suicide bombers detonated an IED in Abuja, changed the story.
Recall that Navy Captain Ugochukwu Chinwe Ezeorah (rtd.), from Aku, Igboetiti Local Government of Enugu state was one of those killed in the bomb blast which occurred at the Police Force Headquarters, Abuja on June 16, 2011.
At the time, the wife and family members of late Captain Ezeorah became confused about what to do and procedures to take to handle the evacuation of the corpse, burial, collection of entitlements etc.
Rear Admiral Samuel Ilesanmi Alade (rtd) who was a directing staff at the National Defence College then, had to contact another coursemate, Rear Admiral Salami (rtd) because nobody knew the spouse or children and how hey locate them.
They were able to get other coursemates to play crucial roles in helping with organization for the burial of Captain Ezeora and further support to his family.
From then onwards, NDA 27 regular course has kept on and continue to wax strong. As at today, three members of the course are traditional rulers while regrettably, 33 members have passed away, leaving behind, 35 widows.
As part of activities marking their 40th anniversary, a well attended dinner was held at the officers mess of the National Defence College, Abuja with many of those who helped to train and shape their lives in attendance.
In paying tribute to these officers of your, Rear Admiral Alade, a former Commandant of National Defence College, who is presently the President of Course 27 alumni association, listed such people as Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, General Zamani Lekwot who was Commandant, NDA, Major General Abdullahi Shelleng, AVM Larry Koinyan General Lawan Gwadabe, General Balogun who was Cadet Brigade Commander, Col N Njoku, Gen Ibrahim Sabo, Gen Temlong, Major General Osinowo, Major D Musa, the Adjutant and Capt Oliver Zagana who was Academy RSM.
He used the opportunity to appreciate the immense support and contributions of the spouses of course 27 members even as he requested widows of their late colleagues to stand up for special appreciation.
Chairman, organizing committee of the association, Major General Cecil Esekhaigbe (rtd) commended the cooperation and unity of purpose of members of the association saying it has continued to grow from strenght to strength.
He disclosed that course 27 regular also donated 2 giant trophies to the Nigerian Defence Academy to be presented to the Champion battalion each year and the best in Academics.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai was represented st the dinner by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Army, Lt. Gen Lamidi Adeosun while the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas was represented by Rear Admiral IO Mohammed.
On Saturday, the 27 Regular Course members called on government, the military hierarchy, private organisations and philanthropists to assist families of the country’s slain heroes.
Speaking during their Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Abdulsalami hall, National Defence College, Rear Admiral Alade hailed the gallant contributions of fallen troops towards safeguarding the unity, peace and development of the country.
He stressed the need for government to prioritize the welfare of families of fallen troops, who paid the supreme sacrifice while protecting the nation’s territorial integrity.
‘Their is every need for the government, spirited individuals and corporate bodies to urgently come to the aid of the families of our fallen heroes. Something proactive must be done, to adequately cater for their families and their immediate needs,” he said.
Rear Admiral Alade equally assured that their group will continue to offer vital inputs and suggestions to the national discourse on security, with a view to tackling the wave of insecurity across the country.
Earlier on Friday, the Course members, visited the Kuje Correctional Home, and donated 1,500 treated mosquito nets to the inmates.
The delegation, also visited the Headquarters of the Defence and Police Officers Wives’ Association (DEPOWA), where they handed over five sewing machines, and five hair driers to the representative of DEPOWA President, Mrs. Omobolanle Olonisakin.
Admiral Alade who was accompanied by Major General AT Jubril, former DMI, and also former GOC 2 division and Air Vice Marshal Saidu among others, disclosed that the rationale behind their generous donations was not only to empower, but to show a sense of belonging to the widows and orphans left behind by fallen heroes.
The DEPOWA President’s representative, on her part, assured that the items donated by the Course members will be well-maintained and handled properly.
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