The Minister of Defence, Muhammed Badaru, said physical fitness remains the cornerstone of troops’ combat readiness to confront the multifaceted security challenges in the country.
Badaru said this on Saturday in Abuja.
He was speaking at the 4th Edition of the Chief of Defence Staff Armed Forces and Security Agencies Half Marathon.
Badaru was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Dr Ibrahim Kana, who flagged off the marathon which has the theme, ‘Enhancing Security Agencies’ Cooperation Through Sports’.
According to the Minister, only physically and mentally fit personnel could make a difference in internal security operations.
Badaru said: “The importance of physical fitness to the armed forces and security agencies cannot be overemphasised, particularly at this time that we are contending with a myriad of security challenges.
“This is because it does not only provide physical and mental fitness, but endurance through weather, terrain and other harsh battle conditions.
“Physical fitness therefore remains the cornerstone of troops’ combat readiness as it keeps service personnel in the top physical state that enables them to carry out and achieve assigned tasks.
“Overall, physical fitness is the basis for service personnel’s good health and physical well-being.
“Running Marathon is a high intensity total body workout, so it is one of the best ways to build endurance and to maintain healthy weight required for enhanced national security”.
Badaru said the current security challenges confronting the nation were enormous and called for synergy and cooperation amongst the armed forces and other security agencies in the country.
According to him, engagements such as this need to be sustained and new ones introduced to facilitate mutual interaction amongst personnel.
The Minister acknowledged and commended the efforts and great sacrifices being made by troops towards tackling the security challenges currently facing the country.
He said that the marathon, initiated by the Defence Headquarters, would forge cohesion, understanding and the economy of common efforts amongst all security agencies towards tackling Nigeria’s internal security challenges.
The Minister assured the Military and all security agencies of the commitment of President Bola Tinubu to enhancing their welfare and working conditions.
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher Musa, said the marathon would foster the desired cooperation with other security agencies.
He added that the competition would also build their operational capacity to enhance peace and security of the nation.
Musa said: “It is common knowledge that men of the armed forces and security agencies have in the past brought athletic glory to Nigeria through the number of international trophies they won.
“It is the desire of the Defence Headquarters under my watch to restore the glory days, and as resources permit, this competition will continue to be an annual event.
“I therefore urge the participating services and security agencies in this epoch event to see themselves as members of a larger security family.
“You are significantly indispensable in the implementation of the security architecture of the country.
“Though playing different roles and approaching your jobs with different strategies, in matters of national security, you must appreciate and protect each other as partners and co-stakeholders in the overriding task of securing our dear nation”.
The CDS said the DHQ would continue to project excellent relationships with other security agencies and seek areas for more collaboration and synergy.
He said that by building bridges of understanding through healthy competition, the efforts and sacrifices in defending the country from external aggression or internal insurrection, would be a lot easier.
“In light of this, the Half Marathon will be used as a testing ground for the Armed Forces and Security Agencies Games to bring out our best to represent us in international competitions.
“Unity among security agencies will foster public trust in us and improve their appreciation of our enormous sacrifices in confronting these security challenges,” he added.
The personnel of the Federal Fire Service, Stephen Joshua, emerged winner in the male category with a time of 1:08:00.
Pte. Gyang Irimiya of the Nigerian Army finished second at 1:09:56, and Auta Jigak of Federal Fire Service was third, with a finishing time of 1:10:15.
In the female category, Deborah Pam of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC) won the half marathon in 1:22:37.
She was followed by Blessing Bulus, also of the NSCDC, who clocked 1:23:50, and Pte. Patience John of the Nigerian Army, who came third with a time of 1:23:56.
In the group competition, the Nigerian Army emerged winners in both the male and female category while the Nigeria Police emerged second and the Nigerian Air Force, third.
The top male and female marathoners went home with the coveted Innoson Car Prizes.
The second and third runners up got cash prizes of N1 million and N750,000, respectively, while certificates were presented to the group and individual competitors.