SENIOR serving and retired military officers yesterday converged on the Nigerian Air Force Base’s Protestant Church and the National Military Cemetary in Abuja.
The gathering was to pay their last respects to the former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, who was killed in December last year by suspected assassins while returning from his farm on Abuja-Keffi Road.
At the event were: CDS Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar; Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe; Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha; Governors Mohammedc Bindow (Adamawa) and Simon Lalong (Plateau).
They were joined by others to condole with the grieving members of the late Air Chief Marshal Badeh’s family.
The immediate family members, friends and relations could not hold back tears during the church service and at the cemetery.
Some of them were seen holding onto one another, wiping the tears streaming down their cheeks.
Air Chief Marshal Badeh was killed on December 18 last year, by suspected gunmen. The sad event sent a shocking wave, especially because of the victim’s status and the security situation.
The atmosphere at the cemetery became more emotional as the remains of the late ex-CDS were interred.
Shortly after the body was brought into the church in a casket draped in national colours, solemn hymns were rendered to set the tone for the service, which started at about 10:09am.
No sooner had the late CDS’ daughter taken the scriptural reading from Job 14:1 – 6, than tributes were delivered by the deceased’s family.
In a brief tribute on behalf of the family, the late Badeh’s son expressed regrets that his father was consumed by the same “violence” he abhorred.
In an emotion-laden voice, he said: “Dad, you were never one to show your true feelings when things are tough. You always had a smile on your face even in adversity, you stood up for what you believed was right and tried to be fair.
“You were deeply principled and pragmatic. You might have been a big brash bulk of a man but you moved through the world gracefully.
“You abhorred violence but in the end it found you. You are loved and will never be forgotten.”
Air Marshal Abubakar said Badeh’s death must serve as a wake-up call to all and sundry, to lend support to the fight against crime and criminality in the country.
The CAS said the achievements of the late Air Chief Marshal Badeh would remain a source of inspiration to military personnel.
He said: “He was the 18th CAS and the 15th CDS. He was an astute airman who earned over 6000 flying hours during his flying career.
“The death of this gentleman must steer the rest of us not only in the armed forces but indeed in Nigeria to rededicate ourselves in the service of our nation and people to deal decisively with crime and criminality.
“We must continue to work, redouble our efforts in supporting the police and other security agencies to ensure that the perpetrators of this heinous crime are brought to book.
“I’m indeed deeply touched and saddened by the manner in which we lost such an accomplished general who attained the apex of his chosen career in the Nigerian Armed forces, the nation will remain grateful to you for service,” CAS Abubakar said.
CDS Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin recommended the life of his immediate predecessor for emulation.
The CDS said: “Despite (the) state of despondency, I make bold to say (that) the life of Air chief Badeh is a life that is worth celebrating. He didn’t only rise to the peak of his career; he also occupied the prestigious position of the CAS and the CDS of our great nation.
“As CAS, his contribution added value to the professional development of the Nigerian Air Force where he left meaningful legacies.
“In his capacity as the CDS, he provided leadership and direction to the Armed Forces, especially in the fight against insurgency and terrorism.
“He retired from service in 2015. Even in retirement, he was full of energy and obviously had a lot to offer upcoming officers from his wealth of experience.”
The former CDS was buried with full military honours amidst the traditional 21 gun salute and presentation of flags to his family.
The laying of wreath was conducted at the cemetery in the following order: Mustapha (who represented President Muhammadu Buhari; Defence minister’s representative; CDS; COAS; CNS; CAS; widow Mary Badeh and representative of Regular Course 21, Badeh’s course mates at the Nigerian Defence Academy.