Abdullahi Sule, governor of Nasarawa State, has lauded the Nigerian Army for maintaining its annual social event, the West African Social Activities (WASA), aimed at bringing together officers and their families, to strengthen the existing bonds among different ethnic groups in the military.
The event was held at177 Guards Battalion 2023, Shitu Alao Barracks in Keffi Local Government Area of the state.
Governor Sule, who was represented by Emmanuel Akabe, his deputy, commended Nigerian Army for showcasing the different cultures and traditions in the country.
According to him, WASA day was an opportunity for officers and soldiers to mingle, revisit their traditions and culture, even as he expressed happiness with the Army for maintaining the WASA tradition
He said the day was a pointer to the resolve and determination of the Nigerian Army to create an avenue to socialize with fellow soldiers and families, where they made it an integral part of activities in the Nigerian Army annually.
“The essence of WASA is to ensure that soldiers and officers do not forget or abandon their traditions and culture due to the exigencies of military life.
“I am happy that the Nigerian Army has maintained the WASA tradition because any group of people without tradition, without culture are a lost generation.
“The Nigerian Army is not unmindful of the fact that these cultures and these traditions must be maintained at all times.
“I am also happy to see officers and men and their families unwinding because there is a popular saying that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” he said.
Auwalu Inuwa, Commanding Officer, 177 Guards Battalion of the Nigerian Army, explained that, WASA was created to take officers and soldiers away from their routine regimental life to an atmosphere, where they can unwind and relax freely with one another and civilians.
“It is also aimed at upholding the culture and traditions of the nation in addition to getting personnel and their families in a social and conducive atmosphere to mark the end of the year activities,” he said.
Inuwa revealed that it was the British colonial authorities that introduced WASA, owing to the diverse cultural inclinations of the West African soldiers, under their control called the West African Frontier Force, composed of British West African units during the colonial era.
“The colonial authorities introduced WASA organized every year to grant the request of soldiers to participate in their local cultural heritage.
“This cultural heritage was in the form of sacrifices usually offered at the end of harvest or the beginning of the planting seasons to their gods and ancestors for bumper harvests or for peace and progress in the new year.
“Accordingly the military introduced these rites and named it WASA rather than sending representatives to the various villages who had their children in the military.
“Nigerian Army accordingly upheld this tradition after independence to boost the confidence of soldiers. This is the 24th edition in this unit,” he said.
He assured the officers, soldiers, their families and the public that the 2023 edition will equally be colorful than the previous editions, as local dancing, display of different cultures and traditions and local dishes from different parts of the country are featured.
About 10 officers and soldiers of the 177 Guards Battalion were honoured with awards of excellence in their various fields, where several ethnic groups such as Yoruba, Fulani, Igbo, Gwari, Gwandara, Mada among others participated in the annual social event.