The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, is to kick-start his campaign for the 2019 presidential election through an address to Nigerians on Facebook on Monday.

The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has awarded scholarships to five children of the victims of the recent attack on 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele, Borno.

Abubakar made the declaration in a statement personally signed by him on Wednesday in Abuja.

He also called on those who desired to celebrate his birthday to donate their gifts and money to the widows and orphans of the fallen military heroes.

“I feel immense sadness when I think of the families they have left behind and pray to Almighty God to grant their surviving family members fortitude to bear up in a time like this.

“These men and women gave their best and we must reciprocate their sacrificial giving. Therefore, instead of celebrating my birthday this year, which is coming up in a few days, I choose to rather celebrate our fallen heroes.’’

“I hereby declare an endowment to provide full financial scholarships to five children of our fallen heroes from the 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele up to whatever level they are able and willing to reach at the American University of Nigeria, Yola.

“I further call on those who desire to celebrate my birthday, that instead of sending me gifts, they should donate their gifts and money to the widows and orphans of our fallen military heroes.

“I also call on all Nigerians, rich or poor, to do what they can for the families of our fallen heroes. They gave us all. We owe it to them to show love and support to the families they left behind.’’

Abubakar also called on the Federal Government to think about setting up a benevolent fund for the support of widows and children of the country’s fallen military heroes.

He said that such fund should be managed by an independent body, to which the public and corporate bodies could pay in funds.

“This is the least that we owe these gallant heroes,’’ he said.

The former Vice President condoled with the Nigerian Army over the recent attack that led to loss of lives of officers and men of the 157 Task Force Battalion in Metele, Borno.

Abubakar said the deaths were very painful and the loss of even one member of the armed forces pierced his heart “because these heroes did not have to die”.

“They volunteered to do a job that keeps this nation safe,” he said.

He said that the gallant men and women of the security services were first and last line of defence against enemies of the nation and deserved the support and confidence of all Nigerians.

“We sleep well at night in our beds, because they stay awake uncomfortably in the fields,” the former vice president said.

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