From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
As part of this year’s Nigerian Army Day celebration, the rank and file of the 302 Artillery Regiment and General Support, Onitsha, embarked on a clean-up exercise at the Electrical Market, Obosi and free medical outreach at Umuoji community in Anambra State.
The Army Commander in-charge of Onitsha Military Cantonment, Col. Idiongesit Akpan who led other senior and junior officers for the exercise had earlier embarked on a road show to the frontage of the Electrical Market Obosi along Onitsha-Owerri road to clean up gutters that have been an eyesore for some time now.
Col. Akpan said the clean up exercise was to complement the efforts of the state government, ensure that the environment was clean and to contribute their quota to the sanitation efforts of Governor Willie Obiano in keeping the state clean.
He said army and civilian relationship has been cordial in the state, which prompted the exercise, adding that other interactions and activities between the army and the public were going without any harassment or molestation of any kind.
Idemili Local Government Area Chairman, Chief Raphael Asha Nnabuife commended the army for dropping their guns to embark on clean up of gutters and the other jobs they have been doing over the years as part of their celebration.
He assured that he would provide waste bags and containers where the traders would henceforth store their refuse to avoid dumping them in the gutter.
He promised to station security men in the area to arrest anybody who would dump refuse again in the gutter.
Nnabuife noted that the council has been working hard to ensure that the area remained clean despite the business cluster occasioned by influx of markets aimed at decongesting Onitsha, the commercial city.
Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Environment, Climate Change and Beatification, Mrs. Florence Oraedum, commended the army for the gesture and promised to continue to partner with the officers to ensure environmental cleanliness of the state.
She said the ministry has been working hard to ensure that the state remained the neatest and cleanest in the country by providing waste bags and containers to package the waste in a way the disposers could easily evacuate them, adding that the street sweepers were always on the road to clean up the roads.
Chairman of Electrical Market, Obosi, Mr. Peter Obi, who thanked the army and the ministry of environment for assisting in cleaning up the gutter in their frontage, assured that the traders would sustain the cleaning of the area just as they would not dump refuse again in the gutter.
The army later moved to the Umuoji Community for medical outreach where they provided health care services to over 500 patients.
Col. Akpan while flagging off the exercise told the natives who gathered in large number to utilise the opportunity to receive free treatment and drug from the army facilities without any fear of harassment, saying that they would continue to protect and defend the citizens from any external attack.
The doctor in-charge of the medical outreach, Captain Wilson I. Ejiga said the patients were provided with general health services, ranging from malaria, typhoid, eye and teeth problems, HIV test and counseling, and scanning to detect some aliments in their body.
He said patients went through HIV/AIDS screening, high blood pressure, sugar level, malaria test, saying that the patients received drugs for identified ailments.
Capt. Ejiga, however, noted that any case that was beyond the treatment at the outreach was taken to their facility at the cantonment while severe cases were referred to tertiary health facilities.
Chief Emmanuel Okafor, an-86-year-old man, commended the army for the free medical treatment, saying that some of them have been sick for sometime without money or help to go to the hospital, but have now been treated by the army for free.
Okafor called on government to provide free medical services to the aged and the orphans in the society, as they have nobody to cater for them.