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From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
All works and no play, they say, makes Jack a dull boy. It was indeed, a day of staying off duty by the 34 Artillery Brigade of the Nigeria Army, Obinze, Owerri, Imo State, penultimate Saturday, as they feted family members of officers and men and the civil society during its West Africa Social Activities (WASA).
The event was thrilling as the soldiers and host communities were entertained by the various cultural troupes from Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa. The Brigade Commander, Brig-General Kay Isiyaku, took to the dancing floor when it was the turn of his Gbagi Cultural troupe from Niger State to entertain the people to the admiration of the guests. Other side attractions of the event included the tug-of war staged by the soldiers of the brigade.
Governor Rochas Okorocha who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Sir George Eche, said: “All works and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It is not only Jack that can become dull by working without playing, even our soldiers will become dull if only subjected to work, work, work without necessary recreation to relax their minds and bodies.
“This I believe is the essence of this gathering and from what I have witnessed here today, I am certain we have all had a nice and relaxing time out. The rich cultural endowment of Nigeria has been served to us all in a well organized and educative manner and the excitement in the air is a testimony to this.”
He said the goodwill of the brigade commander, officers and men of the 34 Artillery Brigade has enhanced synergy within the security community in the state, saying that was why they had gathered and seated to identify with the unique event:
“I hope more events like this will be organised across the security agencies and I can assure you that my government will always identify with you all in appreciation of the good job you are doing.”
He noted that as part of the dividends of tireless and gallant efforts of the officers and men of the artillery brigade, the state was able to achieve a lot in the area of security last year. He added that the successes achieved by the joint efforts of the security agencies in the state have boosted the confidence of the people and made the state secured.
Isiyaku said the WASA was part of the culture and tradition of the Nigerian Army and designed to be a yearly event. He added that it was meant to take officers and soldiers away from their routine regimented lives to an atmosphere where they would mix freely with one another, as well as their civilian friends and counterparts.
He disclosed that WASA was celebrated during the Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF), where the Nigerian Army derived its origin, saying that after Independence the Nigeria Army adopted the culture of celebrating WASA as a way of showcasing the cultural background of officers and soldiers from Nigeria’s rich and diverse cultural heritage:
“The colonial authorities introduced the WASA organized once every year to grant the request by the soldiers to participate in their local cultural rituals. Several attempts have been made over the years to change the name to reflect the independence status of the country and its army, however, the importance of the historical connotation of this event has made the name remain what it is till date.
“The last time this event was held in 34 Artillery Brigade was about six years ago because of the exigencies of duties. The Nigerian Army under the leadership of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.General Tukur Burutai, deemed it necessary to in spite of the busy scheduled of the army and the current economic reality, fund the event across the Nigerian Army.
“This is to show the level of commitment and importance attached to sustaining the culture and traditions of the Nigerian Army and the fact that WASA creates avenue for officers and soldiers to celebrate with families and friends at the end of an eventful year.”
He pointed out that the event provides the opportunity for officers and men of the brigade to reconnect with their culture and tradition as most of the officers have been away from their homes for so long.
The event, he also said, helps in building a cordial relationship with the civil society: “The military cannot do without the civil society because they came from the civil society and when they also retire that they go back to the civil society.”