The Nigerian Navy has changed the perception of most communities in the Niger Delta region about the military.
Hitherto, most communities viewed the military as an agent of death with insatiable murderous appetite. In dread, they would flee to different directions for safety on sighting the men in uniform.
But gradually things are changing. The military now wears a human face. It has embraced professionalism. With carrot-and-stick approach encased in different social intervention programmes, the military is now able to warm itself into the hearts of many communities in the Niger Delta region.
The Central Naval Command (CNC) of the Nigerian Navy has a robust social welfare scheme for communities in its Areas of Responsibility (AoR). With headquarters situated in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, the CNC visits different communities with its medical outreach programme.
The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Mohammed Garba, is passionate about the medical rhapsody. He is at the forefront driving the process and within a short period of time, since he assumed the CNC’s command, Garba has reached five communities with healthcare scheme.
Recently, the Ede-Epie community in Yenagoa, trooped out en masse to partake in its turn of the Navy’s medical mission. Children were dewormed. The aged, women and youths were treated for various health conditions. In fact, Dr. Jennifer Odjegba and other medical experts in the naval team handled the cases of the beneficiaries professionally.
About 2000 persons benefitted from the gesture. The Navy offered free malaria tests and treatment, blood pressure checks, eye screening and treatment. They also gave free diabetes screening, treatment of urinary dysfunction, among others.Consequently, the community poured encomiums on the navy. Many of them said with the kind of gesture extended to them by the navy, their perception about the military changed from negative to positive.
Consequently, the community poured encomiums on the navy. Many of them said with the kind of gesture extended to them by the navy, their perception about the military changed from negative to positive.
The Paramount Ruler of Ede-Epie community, His Royal Highness, Edwin Iti, wore smiles permanently on his face. He said the navy made him proud before his subjects. According to him, the people heaved a sigh of relief.
He said the military has revealed its humanitarian face by showing that it does not only exist to apprehend criminals. He vowed to partner with the military to rid the community of crimes.
The monarch said: “We appreciate the Navy for deeming it fit to extend this medical rhapsody to our people. Before now, when my people see military personnel, they get scared. But now, we are glad that the perception has changed.
“We are overjoyed. The wisdom of coming to put smiles on the faces of our people is welcome. This programme has revealed that the military is not only to apprehend people but to offer humanitarian services. We are fully ready to partner with the military to rid our communities of criminals.”
Garba, who personally declared the event open, said the free medical rhapsody was to promote and strengthen civil-military relations and also to boost healthcare service delivery in targeted communities.
He said the Chief of Naval Staff was very proud of the programme as it was meant to explore partnership of all stakeholders as part of the measures to tackle criminality in the CNC’s area of responsibility.
He urged the people of the community to continue to support the programmes and policies of the Federal Government and that of the military to achieve sustainable peace and security in the Niger Delta.
He appealed to the community to distance itself from criminal activities, maintaining that the Navy zero tolerance for criminalities was not negotiable.Garba said: “I want to urge the community members to distance themselves from criminals that want to take the advantage of agitations and struggle to unleash mayhem on people.
Garba said: “I want to urge the community members to distance themselves from criminals that want to take the advantage of agitations and struggle to unleash mayhem on people.
“Do not allow the magnanimity of the Federal Government to dialogue to be a missing opportunity.
“This medical rhapsody is a programme meant to show appreciation to the host communities. They have been cooperative and supportive of the programmes and policies of not just the Federal Government but also the Nigerian Navy.
“We feel we have to give them something as a token of our appreciation. That is why we organise this free medical rhapsody to the communities in the region and we are doing it every month.”In Yenagoa alone, five communities have already benefitted. We are encouraged by the turnout of community members to this
“In Yenagoa alone, five communities have already benefitted. We are encouraged by the turnout of community members to this programme. Before now, people see the military as a threat but now a lot of people have changed that perception and are beginning to embrace the exercise.”
He advised the communities to key into the Navy’s zero tolerance for criminalities by appealing to their people to shun criminal acts such as piracy, cultism, kidnapping, oil theft, vandalism and other vices.
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