By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
Families of military personnel who died while serving the nation have been assured of government continued support in making life meaningful.
The Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi, gave the assurance while presenting cheques to the next-of-kins of one hundred and eighty four (184) officers who died and were sufficiently captured on the 2018/2019 Group Life Assurance Programme for the Armed Forces.
Magashi, a retired combatant almost betrayed emotions while reading his speech as he acknowledged the pains of families left behind by the late personnel.
According to Magashi “no amount of money can equate the lives of your love ones; however, Federal Government appreciates the contributions of your breadwinners and believes that no amount of succor would be enough or too small to augment you daily requirements.
He charged them to keep faith in the federal government and urged them never to hesitate in bringing any concerns or claims to the ministry for urgent attention
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin said the presentation of the cheques to the Next-of – Kin is a morale booster to the officers and men of the Armed Forces.
“It is no news that the country is faced With the issues of insurgency in the North East and other security challenges like kidnapping and banditry in other parts of the country. As such our officers and men are always called upon to protect the lives of the citizens and to maintain law and order in those parts of the country.
“These officers are faced with hazards in the discharge of their
duties and thereby pay the ultimate sacrifice. Thus, leaving their wives, fathers, mothers, children and siblings,” CDS stated.
In her address, the Director of Human Resource Management Department, Ministry of Defence, Juwaratu Olumoko said over the years, the ministry have been making contentious efforts to ensuring the smooth implementation of the programme as well as prompt payment of benefits and entitlements of the bereaved members, stating that there was drastic improvement.
“Since the transfer of the programme to the ministry, contentious efforts have been put in place to ensure the smooth implementation of the by ensuring prompt payment of premium and settlement of the claims.
“It is pertinent to state that there has been an improvement in the processing and settlement of claims.
“This is notably attributed to the present management team of the Ministry who has ensured that following due diligence, Insurance companies of repute are engaged to manage the programme with a view to ensuring that all the reported claims are promptly and duly settled”. She stated.
The Director further explained that the welfare package was introduced by the Federal government to provide succour to the next-of -Kin of the deceased officers and men of the Armed forces who had lost their lives while in service to alleviate their pains.
She expressed hoped that the scheme would serves as a morale booster to serving officers and men of the Armed Forces, with assurance that their families would not be abandoned or forgotten in case of any eventuality.
Adding that “the programme emanated from the Pension Reform Act, 2004 which was initially administered by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), however, with the amended of the Act in 2011, the scheme excluded the members of the Armed Forces from the Contributory Pension Scheme necessitating the Ministry of Defence to initiate an alternative for the Armed Forces.
The Director Human Resources further stated that the 2018/2019 Scheme of the Programme was managed by Axa Mansard Insurance Plc as the Lead Underwriter and Magnum Trust Insurance Brokers Ltd as Lead Broker, stressing that having performed satisfactorily, all processed claims under the Scheme have been fully settled.
In his remarks, one of the beneficiaries, Kashmere Ndifon thanked the Federal government for the initiative and urged the government to endure its sustenance.