As Nigerians demand more actions from the Armed Forces to end the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and other heinous crimes ravaging the country, it is fighting a major war for survival
WITH over 26 Generals and other Commanding officers down with the dreaded COVID-19 virus, the Nigerian is torn between the counter insurgency war and the Coronavirus pandemic. The virus claimed the General Officer Commanding 6 Division Major-General Johnson Olu Irefin. He is believed to have contracted the virus while attending the annual Chief of Army Staff’s Conference in Abuja. There are growing concerns about the fate of top military officers and others who attended the conference.
The Defence Headquarters said adequate measures have been taken to halt further spread of the virus among the personnel of the Armed Forces, there are concerns about the number of active cases among military officers.
Part of the measures taken, according to a statement by the Acting Director Army Public Relations Brigadier-General Sagir Musa, include the fumigation of the Defence Headquarters, massive testing of officers and enforcement of COVID-19 protocols in all military Formations and Units.
The Coordinator Defence Media Operations, Major-General John Enenche, while assuring that the outbreak of the virus in the Armed Forces would not derail ongoing military operations, said the military was adequately prepared to fight the pandemic.
All officers who attended the conference were asked to self-isolate, but how far can this measure go to check further spread of the virus remains to be seen. The drivers, aides and other close acquaintances of these officers also stand a great of contracting the deadly virus and spreading same.
The fact that the hierarchy of the military is currently encumbered by the Boko Haram insurgency and may not give the required attention to the fight against the pandemic is enough reason to worry.
A paltry 417 officers have so far undergone the COVID-19 test after the outbreak of the virus at the conference.
Will the virus weigh down the military? Will it slow down its operations? Will it defer ongoing operations and how much is it prepared for this health emergency?
Army spokesman Musa said: “All officers and soldiers working at the Army Headquarters are being tested, while COVID-19 protocols are being strictly enforced across all units and formations of the NA,” adding that “the entire Army Headquarters complex “was thoroughly fumigated on Saturday 12 December 2020.”
At the outbreak of the pandemic in March, the military played visible role in the country’s coordinated effort against the virus. It unveiled 17 isolation and treatment centres across the country.
The isolation and treatment centres include the 68 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Yaba, 2 Division Hospital, Ibadan, Military Hospital, Port Harcourt Navy Reference Hospital, Calabar and the Military Hospital, Benin.
Others were the 211 Regiment Group Medical Centre, Owerri, 82 Division Military Hospital, Enugu, 161 Nigerian Air Force Hospital, Makurdi, 22 Brigade Medical Centre, Ilorin, 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, 465 Nigerian Air Force Hospital, Kano and the 263 Nigerian Air Force Reference Hospital, Daura.
Also listed were 119 Composite Group Medical Centre, Sokoto, 261 Nigerian Air Force Reference Hospital, Bauchi, 163 Nigerian Air Force Hospital, Yola, 7 Division Military Hospital, Maiduguri and 27 Task Force Brigade Field Ambulance, Damaturu.
According to Gen. Enenche, the donation of the centres confirms the level of preparedness of the Nigerian Military in support of the Federal Government of Nigeria towards tackling the COVID 19 pandemic.
A committee headed by the Chief of Defence Training and Operations, Major General Leo Irabor, was also set up to interface with all relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government managing the COVID 19 pandemic.
“Further to this, a good number of Armed Forces of Nigerian medical personnel have been earmarked to be trained on the management of COVID 19 cases, which will done in liaison with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC),” Gen. Enenche told Defence Correspondents.
He continued: “In the same vein, about 48 Disaster Response Units of the Armed Forces of Nigeria are on notice to move in conjunction with NEMA. These units will handle operations other than medicals that may arise in the course of this non-kinetic military operation”.
The big question now is: Can this preparedness of the military come handy now that it is hit by the virus?
Source: The Nation