November 4, 2016 will remain a day to be remembered forever by Nigerians, the Nigeria Army and the families of Lt.-Col. Muhammad Abu-Ali and his men, Seargents Muazu Ibrahim, Bassey Okon, Hussani Jafaru, Cpl. Chukwu Simon, Private Salisu Lawal and Seaman Patrick Paul.
Most Nigerians never really paid attention to or appreciate the sacrifices being made by families of soldiers and other uniform men who die in the line of duty, children whose fathers never came back home, and widows who sit up through the long nights with tears streaming down their faces, wishing it was all a nightmare.
Abu-Ali was a lion-heart soldier whose dread caused panic in the enemy camp,...his family, wife and little kids looked forward to when he would be done at the trenches and return into their arms. Alas!,...that day never came.
Like a good commander, he died in his boots along with his best men,...in a terrorists ambush that parted the curtains to expose the grim travails of families of men who die in the line of duty.
Many have died before them in the same quest, many have died after, and many will still die in the line of duty,...not only in the Army, but also in the Navy, Air Force, Police, Civil Defence, Immigration, Customs, NDLEA and Prisons Service.
They die chasing terrorists in the North, militants in the Niger Delta, armed robbers in the highways, pipeline vandals in the creeks, illegal immigrants at the borders and drug lords in our streets.
And when they die,...the world forgets about them and their families.
Plunged into the unexpected, the dependents are ushered into another phase of life,...a life of struggle, lack and poverty.
Sometimes the wives too die of heartache, and the children become orphans,...dragging on through life without the world lifting a finger.
While I was always drawn to charity, particularly to the orphans and the fatherless, right from the barrack days of youth service,…I never really appreciated the starkness of their travails, until I joined the service myself sometimes after.
Then came November 22, 2016, barely three weeks after terrorists killed Abu-Ali and his men,....militants in the Niger Delta murdered 4 NSCDC operatives in cold blood while protecting the oil pipelines.
Their corpses were brought to the command, fresh and dripping. It was a black day. The anguish boldly written on the faces of their family members needed no telling, and reminded me of what they would soon be going through. Their worlds had been shattered.
Condolence visits were paid to the families by the helmsman, partly to commiserate with them, and also to boost the morale of those who are still holding the lines.
But it was clear,…crystal clear that more needed to be done.
To promote renewed patriotism and gallantry in the ranks,…there was need for reassurance. Reassurance that no families of these veterans and heroes will suffer in the event that the supreme price is paid at the front lines.
There was need for a foundation,.........................
a foundation that will ensure that though they’ll continue to miss their fathers, the children will remain in school and have food on their tables. A Foundation that will ensure that though the husbands cannot be brought back to life, their wives would be delighted knowing the world did not forget their sacrifice,........................................
There was need for FOUNDATION FOR FAMILIES OF FALLEN SERVICEMEN.
And then, the Foundation was born on February 13, 2017 upon issuance of its Registration Certificate by the regulatory body (the Corporate Affairs Commission), with men of vision, passion and integrity at the helm; men who would ensure that all donations towards the welfare of these families are judiciously applied, with robust plans set to ensure that the families of the fallen cry no more.
To launch this foundation and create effective media publicity that would endear servicemen and other Nigerians for sustained donations towards the course and objective