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Army, others celebrate WASA with culture, tradition

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The saying: ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ played out at the headquarters of the 2 Division of the Nigerian Army on February 4 when its officers and men shed their uniforms for traditional outfits to celebrate the 2016 West African Social Activities, popularly referred to by its acronym, WASA.

The event was held at Major General John Inienger Stadium at Adekunle Fajuyi Cantonment in Ibadan, Oyo State.

The colourful event had military officers and men gathered according to their ethnic groups wearing traditional outfits peculiar to their cultures. The military was not left alone to savour the traditional displays put up by groups from diverse cultures and backgrounds Nigeria is blessed with and represented in the Nigerian Army.

In solidarity and espirit de corps, heads of other security agencies such as the Nigeria Police, the Directorate of State Services, the Nigerian Air Force, among others also graced the occasion to celebrate the WASA with the Nigerian Army.

In his remarks at the ceremony he General Officer Commanding, 2 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Chukwunedum Abraham said that the event was held to mark the end of the Division’s training schedule for 2016.

The GOC described WASA as an age-long heritage which is aimed at preserving Nigerian Army’s ethics and tradition through social interaction among personnel, their families and well wishers.

“The event also seeks to promote comradeship and foster unity among personnel as one large family,” he added, promising visitors the display of rich and diverse culture and tradition of Nigeria as practised by different ethnic groups.

He delved into events undertaken by the 2 Division in 2016, saying that it was able to complete all its training schedules in spite of myriads of problems.

According to the GOC, “our success today is as a result of our dedication to service and commitment of personnel in executing all assigned tasks, in line with the vision of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, which is ‘to have a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles.’”

He disclosed that the next phase would be the consolidation of the Division’s successes through continuous improvement of services in its Areas of Responsibility, while measures had been put in place to correct lapses noticed during training activities.

He also said that his Division would continue to confront the contemporary challenges currently being experienced in the nation, particularly terrorism and insurgency, cattle rustling and kidnapping.

Major General Abraham used the occasion to call on all commanders at all levels in the Division to remain focused, train hard and be ready to deal decisively with any threat to security within the Division’s area of responsibility.

He enjoined all to always maintain a high level of security alertness, ensure familiarity with their environments and report any strange occurrence or unusual activities to the appropriate authority.

In his speech, the Special Guest of Hounour, who is also the governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, said the WAS event was a way of sustaining an age-long tradition which had helped to strengthen regimentation and spirit de corps as well as promote family values in the Nigerian Army.

The governor, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Chief Moses Alake Adeyemo, recalled that WASA evolved during the period of the West African Frontier Force (WAFF), when it was an activity “designed to display the varied but distinct cultures of troops which made the WAFF.”

He expressed happiness that though the composition had changed, the aim had remained the same.

Remarking on the security challenges facing Nigeria, the governor praised the Nigerian Army for rising to the challenge of tackling terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and ethno-religious crises, among others, with dedication and sacrifice.

Ajimobi said he was impressed with the large turnout  of barracks community and civilians to celebrate WASA, pointing out that civil-military cooperation was a sure way to foster and strengthen healthy society in the nation.

Also at the event, a cash prize of N10,000 was given to one Corporal Onazi for being the neatest soldier in the Division. The neatest residential block was likewise recognized and given a prize while the dirtiest blosk was presented with a mop and a broomstick, an indication that the occupants should endeavour to work at it to ensure hygienic environment.

The cultural group from Akwa Ibom State won the first prize with N40,000 cash for being the best  group that displayed its traditional dance steps. The second prize with N30,000 cash went to the Yoruba cultural group while the third prize with N20,000 cash was won by the group from Idoma tribe from Benue State.

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