Enhancing Civil-Military Cooperation through Free Medical Outreaches
As part of efforts to enhance civil-military relations, the Armed Forces often carry out free medical rhapsodies in their host communities. Chiemelie Ezeobi reports that recently, the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army carried out such free medical outreach
For the military, they would often want the society to understand that they are more than their guns and that’s why they are often engaged in community services to the respective communities in their Areas of Responsibility (AOR).
While some might see such moves as corporate social responsibility (CSR), the underlying factor is that it helps to enhance Civil-Military Relations (CMR). In essence, what this does is to strengthen the ties binding the military and civil populace.
So, for the armed forces, it’s become an act entrenched in tradition to regularly conduct medical outreach and grassroots social services for their host communities
Civil Military Cooperation
The Civil Military Cooperation primarily serves as an interface between the Nigerian Army and the civil populace. For the Nigerian Army, the import of Civil-Military Relations cannot be overemphasised. In fact, the army established the Department of Civil-Military Affairs (DCMA) in December 2010. Set up by the then Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General OA Ihejirika, it was positioned to serve primarily as an interface between the Nigerian Army and the civil populace and was also charged with the responsibility of underscoring the fundamentals of Civil Military Affairs as a strategic national institution.
The department is also charged with the introducing and transmitting the core elements of effective civil-military relations in areas of human rights, rule of law, negotiations liaison and conflict management. All these are binding on all divisions and units of the army.
At the 81 Division Headquarters, it was in line with the vision of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya to provide a platform to further strengthen relationship between the NA and civilian populace at the grassroots, that they recently held several medical outreaches in Ijebu North Local Government Area of Ogun State and Ajah- Ilaje Community in Lagos.
Outreach at Ijebu
The first medical outreach took place at Ijebu North Local Government Area (LGA) of Ogun State where the General Officer Commanding, (GOC) 81 Division, Major General Lawrence Fejokwu, also assured the community of adequate security.
At the free medical outreach conducted by 35 Artillery Brigade Alamala as part of the formation’s Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) activities, the GOC said the CIMIC exercise was in line with the vision of the Chief of Army Staff to provide a platform to further strengthen relationship between the NA and civilian populace at the grassroots.
He further enjoined the communities to be alert and report any breach of security within their vicinity immediately, while he charged personnel that the use of force should always be the last resort to solving issues.
Earlier, the Commander 35 Artillery Brigade Alamala, Brigadier General Adewale Adekoya during the flag off, noted that the CIMIC exercise was an integral part of 35 Artillery Brigade efforts to enhancing civil/military relations and NA’s corporate social responsibility, adding that it is a tradition for the NA to regularly conduct medical outreach and grassroots social services for rural communities.
He further disclosed that the exercise provided an avenue to enlighten the communities on the implications of drug abuse, render free medical consultations and services and enlightenment on recruitment into the NA.
The 35 Brigade CIMIC exercise was extended to traditional rulers, staff of Ijebu North LGA, market women, less privileged, members of Community Development Association and students. The medical services included blood pressure check, eye examination and medication for malaria and fever.
Commemorating NADCEL in Ajah-Ilaje
Not done, the division also in commemoration of the Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL) 2021, last weekend offered free medical outreach to Ajah-Ilaje Community in Lagos.
At the flag-off, the GOC 81 Division reiterated that the NA has a tradition of regularly reaching out to host communities as part of measures towards enhanced Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC).
Stating that the exercise was part of the activities lined up for NADCEL 2021 with the theme “A professional and ready Nigerian Army: A prerequisite for successful operations in a Joint Environment”, he further explained that the exercise was meant to offer public health services to the Ajah-Ilaje Community.
The GOC also used the occasion to implore the community not to relent in offering assistance to the Army by providing timely information on the activities of criminal elements within their communities. He further urged the people present to take their medications as prescribed by the doctors and ensure routine medical check ups as a follow up to the exercise.
He disclosed that the areas being covered by the medical outreach include blood test, blood pressure screening, voluntary HIV counseling and dental consultations, deworming and general treatment.
Meanwhile, the Chairperson, Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA), Mrs. Oghenerukevwe Fejokwu and members of the excos donated a truck load of rice on behalf of the division to the community.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Baale of Ajah Ilaje land, His Royal Highness Murisiku Alani Oseni Ojupon ably represented by Honourable Chief Wasiu Olaosebikan Eshinlokun stated that the people of the community were delighted to have the NA in their midst to provide medical services and distribute palliatives.
Strengthening Ties at Onigbongbo
At the 9 Brigade Army Cantonment, Ikeja, the Brigade Commander, Brigadier General MLD Saraso, also conducted a medical outreach at its host community, the Onigbongbo Kingdom. The commander said the outreach further strengthened the existing relationship between the army and the host community.
The Oba of Onigbongbo kingdom, Oba Oluwasegun Adeyemi Ajasa also commended the army for the outreach, as well as ensuring security of lives and properties in the area. His sentiments were echoed by Alhaji Tajudeen Irawo, the Jagunmolu of Onigbongbo Kingdom.