AGBO-PAUL AUGUSTINE who was at the 102 Guards Battalion, Zuma Barracks, Suleja, for the 2016 Nigerian Army Social Activities’ Day, as the army officers let off steam on a fun-filled day captures the moment.
The officers and soldiers of the 102 Guards Battalion of the Nigerian Army located in Tafa local government area of Niger State, near the popular Zuma Rock, temporally tossed their uniforms, riffles and the regimental life aside to wine, dine and dance on the occasion of the 2016 Nigerian Army Social Activities (NASA) popularly called ‘WASA’.
Saturday, December 17, 2016 was as memorable as it was colourful. Spotting the military men amongst the civilians was quite difficult, as they personnel of the Nigerian Army tossed their uniforms aside, opting for colourful, cultural attires.
The mood, so civil, traditional and social, was coming at a time in which the army was under a lot of pressure to defend the nation, both from internal and external aggressors, but the officers held their heads up and thrilled their guests to traditional dances and a number of other skills, just as they took the opportunity to let off steam and relax.
Adding to the excitement of the day was the presentation of prizes by unit commanders to soldiers who performed well in a number of activities, to loud applause from the guests – a combination of military personnel and civilians.
Declaring the celebration open, the Commanding Officer, 102 Guards Battalion, Nigerian Army, Lieutenant Colonel Saidu Tafida, informed the guests that the original term West African Social Activities (WASA) was upturned to mean wasa, the Hausa term for ‘play’; hence, the jocular atmosphere which pervaded the ceremony.
The ceremony, he ploughed on, originated from the West African Frontier Force (WAFF) and was a forum for the colonial British officers, native Nigerian soldiers and their families to gather, dine, wine, share jokes and entertain themselves with different cultural dances.
After the country’s independence in 1960, the Armed Forces, especially the Nigerian Army, continued with the tradition to promote camaraderie within its ranks, but renamed it wasa and made it an end-of-year event in all its formations and units.
“It offers the opportunity for the officers, soldiers and their civilian friends to meet and share the rich cultural heritage of our beloved country
“[Wasa] is also aimed at educating our young officers and soldiers that this is one of the accepted traditions in the Nigerian Army which they will continue to witness in the course of their careers,” he said.
Reeling out the achievements of the Battalion in 2016, Tafida said priority had been given to human capacity development, as several officers and soldiers benefitted from training courses and a number of other pluses geared towards improving the quality of their output.
“The families of these officers were not left out, either,” he stated, as he revealed that the first batch of the unit’s Barracks’ Women Empowerment Programme which was concluded a few days ago, made it possible for indigent women to be empowered and able to earn a living by the works of their hands.
As demanded of the military, the officers and soldiers of the battalion have also had their own fair share of postings in and out of the battalion and, like in all aspect of life and human endeavour, registered a number of deaths of its personnel in the war against terror.
While appreciating the contribution of the officers and soldiers to the growth of the battalion, Tafida commended the families of the military for keeping the home front in the absence of their husbands, sons and fathers.
It was a delight to watch the Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Support and Administration companies of the battalion show-case their skills and dance-steps before the special guest of honour, Commander Guards Brigade, Brigadier General Musa Yusuf, who was represented by Chief of Staff, Headquarters, Guards Brigade, Colonel M. T. Usman.
There were march-pasts by the various cultural groups, as well as rich, cultural displays by the Gbagyis (the dominant tribe in Tafa local government area), the Hausa/Fulanis, Efiks, Tivs, Yorubas and the Karate Group.
If the displays and agility of the soldiers were a delight to watch, the peak of the day’s activities turned out to be the tug-of-war between the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Army.
Standing before the awed crowd, the special guest of honour and the Commanding Officer, the well-built men of both forces tugged and tugged, until the military, registering the presence of their family members, finaly tugged the cops, heaving and panting onto their side of the divide.
Clearly, the members of the Nigerian Police Force, Suleja, were no push-overs and. Thus, went home with their heads held high.