Let’s appreciate efforts of our armed forces

I read in one newspaper that soldiers of a unit in Lagos participated in a community service, helping to clear rubbish and making a number of roads better for public use.

They also helped with the general sanitation of the area, edged on by their superior officer.

In a few photos I saw online, you could see the young men dressed in camouflage uniforms and their trousers rolled up working with shovels and diggers to help the community.

That sight warmed my heart, adding to the respect I already have for this section of our society.

But to my dismay, the pictures and the story didn’t go viral.

Instead, it was buried under other rather less consequential stories.

What a shame on us, Nigerians! These people give their lives in service to our nation and to protect us, but we cannot even recognise it when they are going yet another extra mile for us! A quick look at the photo would show them happily carrying out the task without hesitation.

The least we can do is to make it go viral, story, photos and all and lavishly publicise it.

Now, were it to be a photo or video of a soldier brutalising a civilian, Nigerians would erupt in a furore, condemning the entire Nigerian Army, forgetting that it is the handiwork of a single individual (or group in the case of an errant duo or trio).

The professional institution that the Nigerian Army is today will certainly not condone misbehaviour.

In the instance that errant soldiers are caught, the punishment meted out is always sufficient and if it is a criminal case, the personnel are handed over to the relevant authorities for justice to take its course.

Do you know of a soldier who has helped you or a relative of yours, beyond his call of duty? Do you know of a unit which provides free healthcare and services to host communities, or even settle disputes and create an atmosphere of peace and calm where trouble has threatened? Then please go on Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else to thank them and ask others to join in gratitude.

I always tell people that our armed forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) are the last fort of our national unity, and they always stick to one another in brotherhood no matter what.

Let us learn that from them, and while doing so appreciate their efforts and sacrifice for us, and Nigeria as a whole.

Hannafi Usman-Bello, Ungwan Rimi, Kaduna\

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