Judex Okoro, Calabar
It was a red letter day for the Bakassi people as over 900 hundred natives of the local governement area received free medical treatment from the Nigerian Army.
The natives, who converged at the football field of Government Primary School, Ekpri Ikang were screened of various ailments including dental, malaria, typhoid, eyecare and hypertension.
They also carried out malaria, typhoid, and diabetes and HIV/AIDS as well as deworming of children.
The medical outreach was conducted by the Nigerian Army in continuation of civil-military relations and to solict for maximum cooperation from the community in its Exercise Crocodile Smile 4 dance.
The beneficiaries of different medical services offered by the army, described the gesture as long awaited and a huge relief to them.
Some of the benficaoreis expressed appreciation to the Nigerian Army for embarking on the exercises, thereby providing increased security to their communities as well as given them a new lease on life through the free healthcare services.
Speaking, one of the beneficiaries, Madam Iquo Eyo, said: “I am very happy about this medical service. I have been suffering from asthma and today I have been given free drugs. The army has done well”.
Another beneficiary from Ikot Nakanda, Damilola Akanbi, said: “What the army has done is really helpful to youths and adults alike.
They are helping us to protect our future, take care of ourselves and teaching us through the health talks on how to be careful in the environment. If the government can continue like this, it will help more people to come out to check their health status”.
The village head of Ikot Effio-Ediong Eneyo Effiom, said:“I am thankful to God and the army. The army have done what others did not do. See so many people here for treatment. You care about our health.”
Speaking earlier at the commmcment of the exercise, the General Officer Commanding, GOC, 82 Division,Nigerian Army Enugu, Major General Lasisi Adegboye, said the synergy between the civilian populace and the military such is necessary to assist in combating malignant security challenges across the country.
The GOC lauded the visible teamwork approach amongst military and para- military outfits in the state, stressing that such team spirit is highly solicited for the success of Operation Crocodile Smile IV which is intended to curtail kidnapping, banditry,armed robbery, insurgency and other security threats inimical to national integration and economic development.
Adegboye siad the gesture demonstrates high level of engagement of the civil population by the military.
Also speaking, the commander, 13 Brigade of the Nigerian Army,Calabar, Brigadier General Thomas Olatoye, described the outreach as a cardinal component of the ongoing Operation Ex Crocodile Smile iv designed to cordial coexistence amongst the locals.
According to him, the medical programme was also targeted to optimize existing cooperation between the Brigade and the civil population in furtherance of the vision of the Chief of Army Staff.
In a message, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, represented by Dr. Betta Edu, the Director General of Cross River State Primary Health Care Agency, commended the military high command for initiating the medical outreach, which has contributed in no small measure to lift the burden off the shoulders of the government.
Ayade recalled that the Nigerian Army in 2018 Exercise Crocodile Smile undertook the repairs, renovations and equipping of one health centre in Akpabuyo local government area.
“We are happy to collaborate twith with the Nigerian Army to ensure that our communities’ benefit from these health programmes. The exercise, which sees the army provide protection for our people in the communities, has been taken a step further”.
“Last year during Crocodile Smile 3, we had one of our primary healthcare centres completely refurbished and equipped. This year, we are having this very elaborate project. So, it is huge for Cross River State Government and we are very grateful to the Nigerian army”, Ayade stated.
He also urged the communities to support the efforts of the Nigerian army, stating “they are here for peace; they are here to protect us.
“So, we should be able to work with them to achieve and do more. This is a huge breakthrough; providing health services to the underserved in this area. It is going to improve their health status and help the people build a closer bond with the army”.