Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
It was based on the popular saying that ‘all works, no play makes a Jack a dull boy’ that soldiers from 302 Artillery Regiment, Onitsha, Anambra State rolled out drums to celebrate culture at the military cantonment.
The event which was celebrated under the 2017 West Africa Social Activities (WASA) showcased various cultural dances, display of cultura attires, tug of war competition between Mammy Market women and Corps members serving at the barrack, bonfire as well awards to some gallant junior soldiers and friends of the military for their contribution to peaceful coexistence in the area.
The event attracted people from all walks of life including Governor Willie Obiano represented by Col. Paul Izukanne (retd), heads of other security agencies in the state, Commissioner of Police Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba (retd) among others.
Obiano commended the Army for rendering quality service to the state and urged them to double its effort in ensuring that peace reign in the country, stressing that the army should maintain peaceful coexistence with the civilians.
“Solider should know that they are the representative of the people and that it is the tax payers money that is being used to pay them. Therefore, they are the servants of the people. So, we are solidly behind the soldiers in carrying out their duty peacefully and we will continue to support them,” the governor stated.
Commander of Military Cantonment Onitsha Col. I.U Akpan said WASA dated back to the days of West African Frontier Forces (WAFF) during which personnel from different ancestral background with diverse traditional, culture and customary heritage started joining the Army.
He noted that at that time, for stock-taking such as during harvests or beginning of new planting seasons, sacrifices were usually offered to the gods and ancestors of the various communities for bounty harvest or for peaceful and prosperous New Year.
According to Col. Akpan, “instead of releasing soldiers yearly to perform these rituals, the military authority resolved to incorporate this important event in the activities of the Army and christened it WASA. Today, as the Nigerian Army continues to evolve as a potent tool for nation building, this tradition is still upheld in order to foster esprit-de-corps among the troops. It also serves as a veritable forum to promote good community relations between the barracks community and members of the contiguous communities.
“WASA in its original form includes burning of sacrifice, dancing and fielding of masquerade; all these activities except the sacrifice have been built into the programme of events. I am happy that most of you came here with very sensational traditional attires and suitable dancing shoes. I have no doubt that you will not waste any opportunity to showcase your dancing skills which is indeed the essence of today’s gathering,” Akpan stated.
Col. Akpan said: “we are particularly happy with the outstanding cordial civil-military relations existing in Anambra state. I must also mention the uncommon sense of cooperation and support that we have always received from the security agencies and other paramilitary establishments. I want to express my gratitude to Governor Obiano for all his fatherly, moral and material support.
“On our part, I assure you that we shall continue to diligently perform our assigned tasks in Anambra State. We will remain steadfast and cooperate closely with the political authority and all relevant security agencies to preserve security in Anambra State. We will not relent in carrying out our statutory roles as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.”
A trader at the Mammy market, Mrs. Monica Alegwu said the programme has been on since she started business at the military cantonment where they meet the soldiers one on one displaying their cultures, organising contest with civilians to the admiration of the visitors and barracks residents. He urged them to continue with the event.