The Nigerian Defence Academy’s 35th Regular Course have raised a red flag on the potential national security risks stemming from the neglect of retired personnel.
Their collective voice, echoing concerns over the welfare of veterans, underscores the urgent need for attention to address a looming threat to the stability and security of the nation.
Emmanuel Golit, the former president of the association, in his address at the 40th-anniversary celebration of the course in Abuja on Saturday night, highlighted the potential peril to the nation arising from the abandonment of security agency retirees.
Golit emphasised the risk, citing the valuable skills acquired during their service that could become a threat if not adequately addressed.
He also emphasized the pivotal role played by retired security personnel and advocated for a comprehensive review of policies, particularly the Armed Forces Pension Act, to safeguard the skills and well-being of those who served the country diligently.
In his words: “The retirees could become a willing tool in the hands of criminal groups if left to contend with hunger.
“The military, anywhere, is the foundation of the nation-states. If there’s no security in any country, nothing thrives. There will be no industry, no parliament, nothing will work. Now, having served your country diligently, up to the point of retirement, it is incumbent on the government to see to the welfare of members of the security agencies, particularly because you will have skills that can be borrowed, that can be paid for by insurgents.
“For such a group, you need to guard against them selling their skills, either to bandits, terrorists, or other non-state actors because if we leave this group hungry or you don’t care for them, a lot of strange things can happen.
“The government, from time to time, should review the welfare conditions of members of the armed forces and other security agencies. For instance, the Nigerian Armed Forces Act has been there for so long, since the 70s. There has been no deliberate effort to review this document to see how we can add new things that can assist retired members of the armed forces.
“In other climes, you don’t stay in the armed forces for up to 10 years or you’re retired and you are abandoned. They must look for somewhere to fix you so that you can continue to help your country. That way, it is beneficial to the government, it is beneficial to the citizens, and that way our country will remain safe.
“In many countries worldwide, retirees were often involved in various forms of government services after their retirement.”
The newly elected president, Danladi Bausa, acknowledged efforts made by Christopher Musa, Chief Defence Staff and Abubakar Badaru, Minister of Defence in improving retirees’ welfare.
Despite these steps, various veteran groups, including the Coalition for Concerned Veterans and Civil War veterans, have consistently demanded better welfare, pensions, and gratuities.
The call for an overhaul of the Armed Forces Pension Act resonates as a crucial step in safeguarding the well-being of retired security personnel, ensuring their continued contribution to the nation’s security landscape.