Concerned Professionals’ Congress (CPC) has expressed support to ongoing advanced plans by the Defence Headquarters under the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin to recall retired military medical personnel to complement those in active service to aid civil authority in flattening the COVID-19 curve across the country.
The retired military personnel comprise doctors, nurses, virologists, pharmacists, epidemiologists, psychologists, laboratory scientists and other categories of heath care-givers.
There were hints last night that the processes of their preliminary training and immediate deployment in batches were being finalised at the appropriate levels.
The group, in a statement jointly issued in Abuja at the weekend by its Chief Media Strategist, Mr. Emeka Nwankpa and the Northern Regional Rapporteur, Kasim Baba Kasim, described the move as a great dimension to ongoing efforts at various levels to mitigate the effects of the virus as well as curb the spread of the global pandemic in the country.
It will be recalled that the Coordinator of the newly-created Directorate of Defence Media Operations (DDMO), Maj. General John Enenche, last week at a press briefing announced the decision by the military high command to recall the retired medical personnel to complement those in active service in furtherance of the CDS’ vision as part of the military’s statutory mandate to defend the nation against external aggression which COVID-19 represented.
The move, Maj Gen. Enenche emphasized, was to provide immediate aid to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) such as deploying military personnel and transporting emergency cases and medical supplies by land, maritime and air including supplies donated by Jack Ma Foundation and other medicaments by donors.
Already, 80 Armed Forces Medical personnel have been trained and deployed to various centres comprising 21 medical facilities spread across the country and designated for the isolation and treatment of confirmed COVID-19 patients such as the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital, Navy Town, Ojo in Lagos, Nigerian Navy Hospital in Warri, the Nigerian Navy Medical Centre, Borokiri Port Harcourt and Nigeria Navy Logistics School Medical Centre, Owerrinta.
The group, while noting with delight that the armed forces have activated its Disaster Response Units for the security management of emergencies in conjunction with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said that the latest moves by the military leadership were in tandem with spirited efforts being made by other armed forces around the world to rise to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
For example, the United States military, acting on the orders of President Donald Trump as its Commander-in-Chief, has deployed over 1,000 military personnel to New York City, the current epicentre of the coronavirus in that country.
The group expressed satisfaction with efforts taken so far by the Armed Forces to provide necessary support to civil authorities currently dispensing medical care to confirmed COVID-19 patients at the various isolation and treatment centres across the country.
The group contended that the efforts of the Armed Forces at providing aid to civil authorities in the on-going Federal Government’s aggressive fight to curb the spread of the disease as well as flatten the curve were in line with Section 217 (2) c of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which empowers the military to act in aid of civil authority.
‘’Currently, Nigerian Air Force is operating at full capacity, its Liquefied Oxygen (LOX) Plant at the 103 Strike Group (103 STG) at the Nigerian Air Force Base, Yola. The plant is on 24-hours operation to ensure uninterrupted production of pure Liquefied Oxygen which is being gasified and stored in cylinders for immediate supply to isolation centres and designated hospitals as will be directed’’, Nwankpa said.
The group restated its confidence in the ability and tenacity of the Nigerian military under the CDS, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin and the service chiefs and heads of other security and intelligence agencies to evolve pragmatic strategies aimed at cushioning the effects of the pandemic on the Nigerian people as well as tackle and mitigate threats to national security, stability, peace and unity.
The group urged Nigerians to see the patriotic and innovative efforts of the nation’s high military command as another call to duty and reciprocate by lending their support by volunteering useful, credible and timely information to the military, security and intelligence agencies to enable them to adequately curb threats to the general wellbeing of the Nigerian people.
The group particularly commended President Muhammadu Buhari for demonstrating confidence in the ability of the service chiefs to deliver on their mandate, describing the initiative as a paradigm shift and watershed in the strategic communication agenda of the Armed Forces of Nigeria under the visionary leadership of the CDS.
‘’We are currently fighting terrorism and insurgency in the Northeast banditry; kidnapping and cattle rustling in the Northwest; banditry, herders/farmers’ clashes and communal clashes by some militias in the North Central-Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba; and banditry, communal clashes and herders/farmers’ conflicts on the Plateau.
‘’In the South-South, we are combating cultism, piracy, kidnapping, oil theft, pipeline vandalism, and other crimes, ritual killings while there are kidnapping, pipeline vandalism, etc, in the Southwest. These are rapidly-changing internal security challenges that are being successfully tackled by our forces. We need the maximum support of all Nigerians to our military’’, Nwankpa said.