By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Nigerian Navy yesterday moved its medical team to the camps of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, in a move it said was meant to enhance the relationship between the military and the people of the Niger Delta region.
Aside setting up medical laboratories to check for common diseases associated with the recent torrential flooding in the area, the naval personnel also supplied drugs and food to the internally displaced persons.
Some of the ailments treated by the naval team were malaria, pneumonia and flu, while it also conducted eye, dental and other tests for those who have recently lost their homes to the flood.
Speaking during the event, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Saidu Garba, who represented the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibot-Ette Ibas, noted that the programme couldn’t have come at a better time, given the hardship the displaced persons had undergone since the incident occurred.
Garba, who was accompanied by the Commander, NNS Soroh, Commodore Felix Esekhile, traditional rulers and officers from sister agencies, stressed that aside the maintenance of the maritime integrity of the country, the navy also had a responsibility to bring succour to the needy during emergencies.
He recalled that the navy had immediately swung into action when the flood started taking over people’s homes by providing boats and security for persons who were moved to the camps from the coastal areas.
He added that the medical rhapsody was designed by the CNS to respond to cases of persons who are displaced, maimed or traumatised.
“ Nigeria is currently witnessing several security challenges and if the security agencies are to excel in their duties, it is important to foster a good civil/military relationship. It is for this reason that the CNS has made this programme a key event” he said.
“ I urge you all to cooperate with the navy to fight criminalities and all forms of insecurities in this state in particular and the country in general.
“This medical rhapsody is coming at a time that people need it most. Some of these people here were brought from their villages using our boats. As they are going back, we will also provide transport and security.”
The naval chief also vowed to ensure that all strategic infrastructure and the people in the Niger Delta region remain safe, stressing that the navy will continue to do its core duty of securing the waterways.
“ Without security, there can be no meaningful development and without the armed forces, the nation cannot be sufficiently secured for economic activities to thrive,” he added.
In his remarks, Governor Seriake Dickson who was represented by the Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Ebipatei Apaingolo, lauded the military for their prompt response, but bemoaned the meagre assistance the federal government had offered since the floods came heavily.
He urged the federal government to map out a strategy to respond to the issue of flooding annually, maintaining that the current response was more of a fire brigade action.
The governor’s representative further said the 400 bags of rice presented to IDP camps in the state by the federal government was just a drop in the ocean given the enormous needs of the displaced persons.