President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday called on Nigerians to build on things that unite rather than divide the country in spite of diverse cultures and religions.
He gave the advice at the Inter-Denominational Church Service to mark the 2016 Armed Forces and Remembrance Day at the National Christian Centre, Abuja.
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the President said the nation was proud of the contributions of the armed forces for ensuring peace, justice, freedom, and prosperity of the nation.
“Let us renew our determination to build a strong and united nation where freedom, justice, peace and prosperity are easily within reach; a nation where we emphasise those things that bind us rather than those things that divide us.
“We are a country of diverse cultures and even religions but let us tap more into that diversity for strength rather than for strife.”
According to him, the country today celebrates the families of the fallen heroes, their wives and children as well as their other family members.
“No one has suffered as much loss as you have and no one can truly understand your pain but today our nation commends you.
“Your great loss is the gain of millions of Nigerians and generations yet unborn.
“We applaud you and the heroic men and women of our armed forces and we thank God for the worthy lives they lived.”
The President further applauded those who made contributions in various ways to support the military.
“On a day like this, we not only commend the gallantry of the armed forces; we remember in particular all those among them that have paid the supreme price.
“They belong to the distinguished company of those we refer to in our national anthem with the words, “the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain.”
“Today, we honour their service and their memories.’’
Mr. Buhari noted that the reputation of the armed forces for courage and service had often been noted not only at home but also abroad especially the military’s contributions to several international peacekeeping missions.
He specifically mentioned Nigeria’s military and heroic operations in Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Darfur.
According to him, at the end of 2015, Nigeria had 2,972 troops active in various UN missions and Nigeria is one of the top 10 contributors of troops to the UN all across the world and top five on the African continent
“The armed forces contribute and represent one of the most patriotic institutions in the land playing a leading role in nation building.
“It diligently attends to their traditional duty of defending and protecting our territorial integrity.
“Their remarkable efforts in particular at this time in combating insurgency in the north-east is greatly appreciated by the Nigerian people
“Boko Haram and insurgency in the north-east has now been degraded militarily; the insurgents no longer hold territory and can no longer launch military-style attacks as they had done in the past.”
He expressed the gratitude of the nation to the military, adding, “we are confident and we pray that with God on our side, the armed forces of Nigeria will complete the work that they have started.
“They will also in due course continue to render the kind of service that they have rendered to our great nation and even better in the years to come.
“Our armed forces and military have been assisting and will continue to help our communities in the affected areas to recover and resume their normal lives especially in securing their communities, clearing land mines and keeping terrorists out.”
Mr. Buhari acknowledged the support of Nigeria’s foreign partners in the fight against terrorism adding that their contributions and encouragement had been worthwhile.
He said the administration was confident that they would maintain the backing and even step up such support where needed as the nation advanced into the final stage of combating the insurgency.