By Femi Adesina
There’s a short video you can find online that brings tears to my eyes. It features soldiers of the Nigerian Army, four spry young men, the type of whom the Good Book says “the glory of young men is their strength,” and they are in a desert-like environment, in front of a rigged camp.
Wearing battle fatigues and slinging guns round their shoulders, they are in an expansive mood, parodying a popular Christian praise song to reflect their situation and that of the country.
“We are always gathered rugged every season,
We are always good to go in this fight o
We are always confronting every battle
We are moving forward to end this fight
“We are soldiers, say we have peace
We have patience, say we are rugged
We are all in armed forces
Nigerian Army, Navy Air Force
“We are gathered, we rugged
We are good to go combatant soldiers
We are the Nigerian Army
Today is our celebration …”
Obviously made to commemorate Armed Forces Remembrance Day, celebrated every January 15, in Nigeria, the video inspires hope that this country yet has a throng of young people, focused, patriotic, ready to lay down their lives for the peace and progress of their fatherland.
As the song proceeds, one young soldier steps forward, and declares:
“Yes, victory is from God alone.
My name is Soldier
I come from Nigeria
I lay my life on the line for the innocent ones to live
Just for the progress of my fatherland
God bless the Armed Forces
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
I have watched the video scores of times. And it never fails to make my eyes misty each time. Four young men, with their strength as their glory; confronted by danger and death every day, yet glorying in their tribulations, rejoicing in hope that the many battles confronting Nigeria would be won, and that this country shall yet know all-round peace again, in a very turbulent world.
Listen to the words of that soldier that went sole: ‘Yes, victory is from God alone.’ But do some people know? Does it ever enter into their consciousness? They only wail: ‘this insurgency war has lasted too long. The banditry has demystified our military. They are cowards. The top guns don’t even want the battle to end. They are making money in billions.’ Okay. Making money in billions, and wasting our soldiers, our youths, our future and hope, in their hundreds and thousands. Because of blood money. That is all some people see. Permanent cynics and skeptics, who know nothing of altruism, and whose God is their belly. They think only of pecuniary gain. Nothing else. Issorait!
But victory is from God alone. That is what we must realise as Nigerians. Do we ever pray for our troops in the frontlines? Do we remember those youths, our pride and strength, faced by death daily, as we sleep in the comfort of our homes, ensconced in the tender bosom of our wives (and em em, girlfriends). As we pray; God give me money. Give me car. Give me promotion. Kill my enemies. Do it now. NOW!
Do we ever remember our soldiers? Ere you left your room this morning, did you think to pray…did you pray for our soldiers? Victory comes from God alone. If you don’t pray, you may be guilty of prolonging the war in North-East, North-west, North-central, and all over Nigeria.
The young combatant said again: “My name is Soldier. I come from Nigeria…” He didn’t say he was Abubakar. Not Chike, or Adigun. Neither is he Oseirhemen. Nor Briggs. He was simply Soldier. That’s a big lesson for us all in this badly divided country. And the fissures are being further promoted and exploited daily by preachers, politicians, ethnic warlords, and all sorts of divisive personalities and interests. “My name is Soldier. I come from Nigeria…” When shall we all come from Nigeria, instead of from our different ethnic enclaves, which pedestals any other person as our enemy that must be beaten down, destroyed, pulverised. When, when? Will this country ever become a true nation-state? The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind.
Hear Soldier again: “I lay my life on the line for the innocent ones to live, just for the progress of my fatherland. “ Sob. Sob…Do they know it? All those who daily spew rubbish about their country, the leadership, the state of our union, mouthing malediction, doomsday, evil wishes, wailing endlessly. Do they know it? Do they realise that hundreds and thousands of young, promising people daily lay down their lives, so that others may live? The decent are being killed by indecent people. The just dying for the unjust. Worthy souls being mowed down by base fellows, the sons of Shimei, mass of Armageddon in our midst. Yet some people consistently say evil of the country, its military, the leadership of the forces, and of the land. Yet, tell them to lead the advance, and they show clean pair of heels, remembering the yams from Benue, the potatoes from Plateau, the onions, tomatoes and cattle from the North, the fishes and oil from the bowels of the seas in the Niger Delta. They pat their tummies, and flee.
And Soldier says again, in that celebratory video: ‘God bless the Armed Forces. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” Do you ever say that? Have you said it today? Will you say it tomorrow, and day after? We must begin to say good things about our military, our country, our union. If all that you do is grumble, curse, and hiss like the serpent, what you say has a way of coming to pass. “As you say into my ears, so shall I do unto you.” (Numbers 14: 28). You can’t say evil about your country, and think that good will come to her. You can’t say the country would implode, explode, scatter to smithereens, and then hope for unity and amity. It doesn’t happen. Not by a sudden flight. Death and life are in our tongues, “and we shall eat the fruit thereof.’ The things that we talk of repeatedly have a way of happening to us. It is an inexorable divine law. We can’t sow plantain, and expect to reap apples. We can’t sow the wind, and not reap the whirlwind.
As we mark Armed Forces Remembrance Day, oh, that we will say good of our military. Pray for them daily. Encourage them. Boost their morale, and not run them down, thus dispiriting them.
In the words of those singing soldiers, “We are always gathered, rugged every season, we are moving forward to end this fight.”
And so shall it be. Soon and very soon, the many fights all over the country shall end.
Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity