BY PHILIP NWOSU
The Nigerian Army School of Medical sciences recently in Lagos held its maiden marathon race for children and teenagers living inside the Ojo military barrack in a move to create new marathon champions like the used to have in the likes of Abass Mohammed and Yohana Waziri in the 1990s.
According to organizers of the race, the programme was in line with a directive by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai on keeping fit insisting that children within the barracks commence the exercise to enable the force raise future leaders.
It was also learnt that the programme was in line with the vision of the (COAS) for the military to be professionally responsive militarily and medically.
The event Saturday Sunsport learnt was aimed at changing the negative perception of the public about barrack youths and children, who hitherto were viewed as never do well.
Brig. Gen. Solomon David, the school’s commandant, who flagged off the event inside Ojo cantonment, Lagos said the initiative was in conjunction with MummyMay Creations, a Non Governmental Organisation.
The commandant said part of the aims of the race was to let people know that something good could come out of the barracks.
“Derogatorily, we hear ‘barrack children are bad’ but we also want to show that the best things can come out of the barracks.
“It may interest all of us to know that am also a barrack child and an example to let you know that something good could come out of the barracks. There’s a need to show responsiveness around our locality by encouraging our children to keep fit through the theme “Run2Greatness.
“Recall that in 1985 and 1987, a good percentage of barrack boys were in the national U-17 teams. I can also beat my chest to say that the Nigerian Army has produced great sportsmen like boxers Obisia Nwakpa, Isaac Ekpo, wonder boy Paul Hamilton, Ganiyu Salami, Kadiri Ikhana all footballers that represented Nigeria meritoriously.
“The idea came off MummyMay Creations who approached us that something needed to be done for the barrack children and we quickly keyed into it.
“The Chief of Army staff (COAS), Lt. -Gen. Tukur Buratai, we all know, has a vision for us all which is to be professionally responsive, militarily and medically. The COAS has also told us that the army does not need soldiers that are unfit and brought up the idea of keeping fit.
“These are our children; they see us everyday which might also motivate them to join the army. So let them know that from today, you have to keep fit for them to be in the army,” he said.
The commandant while advising the public urged them to assist in the best way they can to cater for the families of the children’s soldiers who had lay down their lives for the country.
“The soldier is Federal Government’s baby which can be moved anywhere and could even die in the process of defending the nation. So any opportunity the civilian or the general public have, they should key in to it by assisting the families,” he stated.
The founder of the initiative, Mrs Ini Onu while speaking with journalists said that the initiative was to ensure children have a better future by also discovering their talents.
Over 100 children between the ages of 12-17 participated in the marathon race.
In the boy’s category, Patrick Miapkop, Philip Kanang and Ibrahim Sheri all 17 years of age emerged first, second and third respectively while from the girls, Abigail Edache, 14, Praise Umoh, 12 and Chidinma Ikechukwu, 13 emerged finished tops in that order.
The race was witnessed by the top brass of the Nigerian Army.