By: Rear Admiral Funebi F Ogu
Tributes to Our Troops (TTOT) is a Defence Headquarters of Nigeria endorsed program to celebrate the Officers and men in active service, otherwise serving personnel of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
The TTOT is the brainchild of 360 Degrees Ltd which is an entertainment media outfit working in partnership with the DHQ.
The idea was to engender the culture of honouring and celebrating the serving personnel in the minds of fellow Nigerians.
It was observed that no day is set aside to appreciate the personnel who lose life and limb to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria and by extension defending Nigerians’ ways of life, liberties and freedoms.
Presently, only the veterans and fallen heroes of the AFN are being remembered or celebrated on Jan 15 during the Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
It was in this light that the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen LEO Irabor endorsed and approved the idea to celebrate the serving personnel.
He thus granted approval to the Chief of Defence Civil Military Cooperation to work together with 360 Degrees Ltd to solicit support and sponsorship from government and corporate bodies, organizations and individuals to celebrate our troops.
Why do we need to celebrate our troops?
Undoubtedly, the AFN have the onerous task of safeguarding and securing the nation from the forces of evil in the likes of Boko Haram, Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP), bandits, secessionists, economic saboteurs etc who are hell bent on tearing our beloved nation apart.
The AFN is deployed in all regions of this country to maintain and keep the peace.
Nigerians owe a lot of gratitude and appreciation to their military that they still have a country to call their own.
However, it is observed that the AFN is one of the most unappreciated military organizations ever.
The members of the AFN are often sacrificed on the alter of political expediency and constantly disparaged by the same people they protect. This ought not to be so.
The AFN do more to secure this country than any other establishment.
Militaries over the world are celebrated and, sometimes, idolized.
The US, UK, Israel, Pakistan, India, and coming closer home South Africa and Ghana to mention are among a few who enjoy this privilege and honour.
These countries grant special privileges to members of their armed forces by approving special welfare programs, rebates for goods and services, special recognition and honour for their veterans and those still in active service.
Nigerians ought to recognize the sacrifices of their military and their military personnel.
The AFN belongs to Nigerians as it is made up of personnel who are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters etc of Nigerians.
It is Nigerians that make up the military so if Nigerians do not celebrate their own, who will?
Without doubt, the military has made its mistakes in its dealings with Nigerians but such infractions pale compared to the gamut of positive contributions the the peace and development of the nation.
The AFN has distinguished itself as a professional armed forces much envied by others in its performances in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Lebanon, Gambia to name a few countries where its personnel fought and ushered in peace.
Whereas the AFN is not best suited for internal security duties as its personnel are trained to counter external aggression or wage war on other countries, they are doing the best possible to keep Nigeria from being overrun by the anarchical forces of doom and destruction.
Nigerians must be mindful that these evil forces are being backed by local and foreign sponsors who do not wish well for our beloved nation.
Thankfully our gallant men and women in uniform are up to the task and have kept them at bay and in check.
That is why we must idolize, honour and celebrate them while they are still alive and in active service of their fatherland.
The activities of the TTOT Program entail the conduct of live concerts aired on DSTV Channel 198 and GOTV Channel 29 in various parts of the country in honour of and to celebrate our personnel.
Celebrity artists are invited to perform and to encourage their followers to honour personnel of the AFN.
During these concerts good will messages and tributes are sent to the troops in the frontlines by top leaders from the government, military, corporate moguls, and families of the personnel.
Two of these concerts have been held successfully in Port Harcourt and Enugu. A third is scheduled for Lagos on 8 January 2022.
A grand finale is also scheduled for Abuja on 15 Jan 2022. Also, as part of the TTOT program, there are plans to build trauma centres for the AFN in Lagos, Abuja and Maiduguri.
Our personnel are not only killed but bear serious physical and mental scars of war.
One of the most prevalent scourge of mental scarring is the debilitating effect of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
For personnel who suffer from PTSD, even though they are physically removed from the battlefield their minds are scarred so much that mental illness sets in.
Many personnel returning from the battlefield are beset with this ailment and no facility has been built to cater for such personnel.
These personnel without adequate care can scarcely fit into society again.
Furthermore, the TTOT Program will include welfare packages for families of serving and deceased personnel in the areas of providing funding for education, small scale businesses, agric loans etc.
The TTOT has been largely funded by the DHQ because of the visionary leadership style of Gen LEO Irabor.
However, since it is envisioned to encourage Nigerians to support and celebrate the military, in the long term, it is envisaged that full sponsorship of the TTOT program will come from corporate Nigeria and well meaning individuals who are friends of the military.
The TTOT will afford opportunity to corporate organizations and individuals to identify with the sacrifices of our military personnel but also afford them the leverage to advertise their goods and services on the DSTV Africa platform. The theme for the 2021/2022 TTOT is ‘Love for Country’.
This theme is obtained from a speech by the CDS which he used to eulogize the Late Lt Gen I Attahiru, then Chief of Army Staff who died in a fatal plane accident on his way to an official function in Jaji, Kaduna.
It essentially implores Nigerians to put love for their country first as does the personnel of the AFN.
Fellow Nigerians should understand that there is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life so that others can live.
It is the members of the AFN, your armed forces who are ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice so you can live in peace. Love them, honour them and celebrate them.
God bless our military God bless Nigeria.
By: RAdm FF Ogu (Rtd) Chairman TTOT Committee 21/22.