His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR
Occasion of the Passing Out Parade of Officer Cadets of the 61 Regular Course and Short Service Course 42 (Army) at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna
Saturday 13th September, 2014
1. We are here to celebrate excellence, professionalism and the coming of age of a great national institution. This is the passing-out parade of the 61st Regular Course and Short Service Course 42 (Army) Officer Cadets of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA). The occasion coincides also with the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of this pioneer military university in Africa and on behalf of all Nigerians, I say congratulations to our NDA!
2. On this important golden anniversary, it is befitting to specially acknowledge the esteemed presence of former Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General (Dr) Yakubu Gowon GCFR, an elder statesman, father of a united Nigeria and steadfast partner in peace and development. You are welcome sir!
3. This is a unique occasion and I also want to specially congratulate the Academy, the Commandant, and staff and all of you gentlemen officers for your service to our nation. Our aspiration as a people and as a government has remained to build a well-trained, efficient and very effective armed forces that meets our national security objectives. The products and achievements of this academy are in line with this goal.
4. This academy have focussed on building capacity for our young men and women in uniform, even as government intensifies on-going efforts directed at equipping and retooling our Armed Forces for better service delivery even in the midst of funding constraints.
5. In furtherance of our national security objectives, we are establishing a Special Forces Brigade to meet the challenges of new threats in the environment and thereby aligning our armed forces to greater citizen’s protection and national defence.
6. For you, the graduating cadets, today marks the end of your rigorous training in the Academy, and the beginning of your careers as officers in the Armed Forces. The methodical parade that we have just witnessed is a representation of the tremendous hard work, high standard of discipline and rigorous training you have imbibed.
7. In your career ahead, the nation demands 100% loyalty, discipline and absolute dedication to duty. The welfare and safety of the men that will be under your command must therefore be top priority. You must make it clear to all, that we will execute a policy of zero tolerance to indiscipline and corruption. The military we are building is one that must at all times serve our people and our Nation, and not the self.
8. I congratulate each and every one of you for completing your training successfully. You have every right to feel proud and fulfilled on an occasion like this, especially against the background that some who started with you, could not conclude, as they lacked the fortitude to withstand the rigours of the physical, mental and intellectual challenges, which you gallantly endured.
9. Our officers are some of the finest in Africa and among the best in the world. It is a matter of national pride that our pioneer military institution has risen to the challenge of meeting the human resource needs of sister African countries including the training of officers from the Republic of Liberia, Uganda, Togo, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. I urge you to exhibit the high standard and professionalism the NDA is noted for, wherever you go.
10. I have no doubt that the high quality training you have received here has equipped you sufficiently to contribute to the progress and development of the various services into which you will be commissioned. Let me emphasize that the nation demands of you, exemplary conduct and high professionalism wherever you are deployed.
11. You are passing out at a critical moment for our country. Those of you who will be fortunate enough to be deployed to areas of national challenge have a unique opportunity to distinguish yourselves in your chosen career. A career in our armed forces is not the place for the heartless. Our men and women in uniform are bold and brave. They are our pride and our nation will continue to honour and appreciate those who stand strong in defence of our country.
12. I need not remind you that the tomorrow’s Armed Forces of our Nation is on your shoulders. You must therefore eschew any behaviour that could tarnish your honour and dignity as commissioned officers. Your commitment and loyalty to the Nation and the Armed Forces must not only be unwavering, it must be outstandingly impeccable.
13. In the discharge of your duties, you must do so within the service code and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This administration is committed to due process, equity, merit and the rule of law, because they are the cardinal pillars of a democratic society. As members of our Armed Forces, your constitutional responsibilities are very broad but very clearly defined.
14. I urge you therefore to engage only in noble and rewarding actions that will enhance your professionalism and career prospects, as well as maintain and deepen the confidence that the Nigerian people repose in you.
15. Let the inspirational and noble words of our National Anthem and National Pledge be ingrained in your inner consciousness at all times. Nigeria expects you to be “faithful, loyal and honest; to serve her with all your strength; and uphold her honour and glory.”
16. Today, I have presented you with new colours as a call to duty. You must cherish these colours with pride, and at all times, emulate the “Selfless Service” your forbearers gave in those campaigns and battles enshrined in these National Colours. You must also strive to remain true to the ideals and callings enshrined in the new NDA Institutional Banner.
17. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me say a few words to the families and friends of the passing-out cadets and indeed, the families of all our armed forces personnel. Your prayers, love and emotional support, have facilitated their commitment and focus throughout the duration of their training and service.
18. The care and responsibility of military families is a life time engagement, and I encourage you to keep them on the path of honour, probity and integrity in their careers goals, by intensifying your support and affection for them. You have done well and may God bless you.
19. Over the years, the NDA, has provided a genuine secular platform for young men and women from all parts of our country and our continent to train and learn in an environment devoid of discrimination and bigotry. The values of loyalty, love, respect and dignity are faithfully instilled in each cadet.
20. The espirit-de-corp formed among officer cadets from these relationships are important lessons for those who choose to cause disaffection, preach hatred and harm our people. The NDA imparts core values of love and unity, which form the bedrock of peaceful co-existence. They are values worth emulating.
21. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, let me commend the Commandant and his team for providing the enabling environment for quality military and academic training to thrive. I have received favourable reports about the performance profile of the female cadets in the regular combatant course programme, since it commenced 3 years ago.
22. I charge the Commandant and his team to continue to learn from peer partner cadet military academies in order to perfect the process according to best practices. I am fulfilled by my decision to permit regular combatant training for female cadets and I urge these amazons to remain steadfast and determined, serving as models of inspiration to younger women.
23. I am also pleased to note that the NDA has embraced the Federal Government’s initiative aimed at deepening the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) towards fast-tracking national development.
24. While this reinforces my conviction that the military can play a crucial role in the technological growth of the nation, I want to charge the Commandant and his team to always remember that the NDA is a Professional Military Education (PME) institution.
25. Your academic endeavours therefore must necessarily relate and primarily serve the professional needs of the military. You must review all academic courses of study towards enhancing the professional education capacity of this great military academy.
26. In this respect, I recognize and commend the efforts of the NDA authorities for authorizing the establishment of new Centres of Excellence, including the Centre for Leadership, Management and Command, and the Centre for the Study of Complex Operations and National Security Affairs. We look forward to the input of these Centres via research, in building capacities and proffering solutions to problems and the complex non-traditional and asymmetrical challenges, of our time.
27. As we round off this Golden Jubilee Anniversary celebration today, I commend the founding fathers who conceived the idea of a world class Academy, providing the best in training, for our specific needs.
28. May I also pay due compliments to all those Nigerians as well as non-Nigerians who have contributed in steering the Academy to this position of pride and honour. My very special thanks go to the pioneer staff and members of the initial training team here at the defence academy.
29. Ladies and gentlemen, four members of the pioneer team are seated here with us today, all the way from India. To the alumni, retired and serving, I thank you for your patriotic service and worthy representation.
30. I urge you all to remain steadfast in your uncommon task of building the Nation, through your assigned roles in defence of our territorial integrity and the service to our people.
31. Finally let me again extend my deepest of gratitude and indeed the appreciation of all Nigerians to the men and officers of the Nigerian armed forces for their service to our Nation. You are out there, fighting so that the rest of the country can live in peace and thrive. Our Nation will not abandon you. We are standing with you.
32. On this special occasion, I am directing the Chief of Defence Staff and the Service Chiefs to institute special honours for our men in uniform who lose their lives in active service. On no account must our country abandon those who serve her loyally, and paid the supreme price. This honour is to ensure that their memories and service live with us and our Nation forever!
33. Long live the NDA! May God bless our men and women in the uniform! May God bless our country Nigeria.