SOME months ago, Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemeni militants claimed a Saudi soldier’s life. What happened afterwards impressed me. The soldier had a wife and a four-year-old son, and immediately after his death, the governor of Riyadh and some royal family members went to visit his family.
For losing their breadwinner, the Saudi government instantly approved the payment of victim’s entitlements, while the son would also continue to earn his late father’s salary until he is 30 years old. That was not all, he would have automatic employment should he ever wish to join the military or civil service.
The death of Nigerian soldiers in the ongoing war against terrorism made me recollect this Saudi scenario, and I wonder how far the Nigerian government and military will go to care for the families left behind by our soldiers killed in battle.
For example, in the United States, any family who loses a member in the course of service to the nation is described as a ‘Gold Family’ and such family is taken care of by the government.
For some time now, I have been reading about the death of Nigerian soldiers in the hands of Boko Haram terrorists, and the plight their families go through despite the supreme sacrifice they made to keep the Nigerian state safe.
There was even this particular report I read in an online edition of a national daily where the wives of some soldiers claimed they were not duly informed of their husband’s death on time, and were only told just a few hours before the military burial.
Just a couple of weeks ago, a military Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Abu Ali and four of his soldiers were killed in their station in Borno State. The outpouring of tributes brought tears to my eyes, as the young Commander was described as a very courageous soldier. He had led many military missions to reclaim the Nigerian territory from the Boko Haram insurgents.
What pained me the most, despite not knowing him on a personal level, is that he still has a young family, but he has paid the supreme price for the country. How will his family fare after his departure?
Some state governors and other top government officials have been visiting his family to condole with them over his loss, but will this show of love last, or is it a one-time visit? We need to show love to the families of those soldiers who had died for the country. We should also do that to the lowest ranking soldier who had been killed in battle.
This is the best time to show that we are a grateful nation, as this will give the soldiers still on the war front the courage that should they fall in battle, the Nigerian state will take care of their families.
As a result of this, I want to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari and the military hierarchy to look into the case of soldiers killed in battle for the sake of this country. Apart from those who died in the hands of Boko Haram terrorists, we should not forget those who died during the Sierra Leone and Liberia wars, as well as those who died during the 1967-1970 civil war; is the government aware about how their families are faring?
Years after the death of these soldiers, is the government aware that some of their children might be graduates today and are still unemployed? Or their wives might be selling roasted plantain by the roadside to keep body and soul together.
I want Nigeria to be a grateful nation, and there is no better way to do this than to take care of the families of those who died for our country.
- Israel Olukanmi,