The Nigerian Army on Wednesday held a valedictory dinner in honour of 52 generals, comprising 23 major-generals and 29 brigadier- generals who have retired and will be retiring before the end of the year.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the one- star and two-star generals were presented with their records of service certificates by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya.

Yahaya said the event was designed to honour and appreciate the officers for their services to the Nigerian Army and the nation at large.

He said there was need to celebrate and be grateful to God for reaching the peak of their careers, adding that a number of their colleagues who joined the service with them had died.

“It is, therefore, my honor and privilege to most sincerely appreciate you all for your sacrifices and meritorious services to the nation and this gesture will in future be replicated at divisional and brigade levels for our retiring officers of the rank of colonel and below.

“It will also be designed for our soldiers and in the end this culture of appreciating and honoring our personnel on exit from loyal and meritorious service to their fatherland will be entrenched and institutionalised as being witnessed today.

“The culture of loyalty, dedication, hard work,  commitment, courage and integrity that we all imbibed in the course of our careers are noble virtues that we should continue to cherish and uphold.

“We should all continue to cultivate, nurture and nourish them and lie on them in and out of service,“ he said.

The COAS said the daunting security challenges facing the nation currently required that all hands should be on deck toward arresting the situation.

He said the high command of the Nigerian Army would continue to consult the retired generals and tap from their wealth of experience.

“On our part, we shall continue to explore avenues with a view to meaningfully engage, appreciate and support our retired colleagues in whatever way possible.

“I would like to assure you of my commitment to improving the welfare of your families as our health facilities and other welfare packages will be available to you in various barracks and cantonment across the country.

“You are also welcome to attend our functions and sessions to extend your mentorship to the younger personnel who have always looked up to you for guidance and direction,” he said.

The Chief of Administration (Army), Maj.-Gen. Usman Muhammed, said the valedictory dinner was the first of its kind in the history of the Nigerian Army.

Muhammed said in the past it was only the service chief and a few senior officers who held strategic appointments at the time of their disengagement that had hitherto been treated to such a ceremony.

According to him, most senior officers retired without being treated to any ceremony to mark their official exit from the service.

He said it was against that backdrop that the COAS directed that a more befitting disengagement process be explored for retiring senior officers of the Nigerian Army.

“These distinguished Nigerians, alongside their spouses, are being honoured today for their meritorious service to the nation.

“The senior officers have dedicated a better part of their lives to the defence of the territorial integrity of our dear nation.

“It is, therefore, appropriate to honour them and appreciate their service to the nation,“ he said.

Muhammed also disposed that the COAS had approved that the sendoff ceremony be held annually in the last quarter of the year.