From Esther Akaa, Lafia
Governor Abdullahi Sule has commended the Nigerian Army for maintaining its West African Social Activities (WASA), which unite officers, soldiers, and their families in celebration and unity.
Sule gave the commendation at the 177 Guards Battalion 2023 WASA of the Nigerian Army, which was held on Friday at the Shitu Alao barracks in the Keffi local government area of Nasarawa State.
The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Emmanuel Akabe, lauded the Nigerian Army for upholding the WASA tradition, describing the programme as an opportunity for commanders and soldiers to interact and explore their customs and cultures.
He added that maintaining the WASA tradition was a pointer to the resolve and determination of the Nigerian Army to create an avenue to socialize with fellow soldiers and families and make it an integral part of activities of the Nigerian Army annually.
He also said the essence of the WASA was to ensure that soldiers and officers do not forget or abandon their traditions and cultures due to the exigencies of military life.
“I am happy the Nigerian Army has maintained the WASA tradition because any group of people without tradition, without culture are a lost generation.
“The Nigerian Army is not unmindful of the fact that these cultures and these traditions must be maintained at all times.
“I am also happy to see officers and men and their families unwinding because there is a popular saying that all work and no play makes jack a full boy,” he said.
He, therefore expressed gratitude to the 177 Guards Battalion’s officers and commanding officer for organising the 2023 edition and pledged to be present at future WASA events in light of the organisation’s significance in promoting the nation’s diverse customs and cultures and fortifying ties between various ethnic groups within the armed forces.
Earlier, Lt. Col. Auwalu Inuwa, Commanding Officer, 177 Guards Battalion of the Nigerian Army,The Nigerian Army’s Lt. Col. Auwalu Inuwa, stated that WASA was established to remove commanders and troops from their regimental routine and place them in an environment where they could freely relax and unwind with civilians and one another.
Inuwa said “The colonial authorities introduced WASA organised every year to grant the request of soldiers to participate in their local cultural heritage.
“This cultural heritage were in the form of sacrifices usually offered at the end of harvest or the beginning of the planting seasons to their gods and ancestors for bumper harvests or for peace and progress in the new year.
“Accordingly the military introduced these rites and names it WASA rather than sending representatives to the various villages who had their children in the military.
“Nigerian Army accordingly upheld this tradition after independence to boos the confidence of soldiers. This is the 24tg edition in this unit.”
The Voice reports that highlights of the event included dances and performances
dancing, display of different cultures and traditions and local dishes by several ethnic groups such as Yoruba, Fulani, Igbo, Gwari, Gwandara, Mada among others.
The event also featured the presentation of awards of excellence to 10 officers and soldiers of the 177 Guards Battalion in the barracks who distinguished themselves in various fields in 2023.