By Albert Akpor
FIFTY-FIVE years ago, the Nigerian Navy, NN, became fully Nigerianised with the statutory responsibility to safeguard the nation’s territorial waters and ensure secured and virile maritime environment. And indeed, apart from a few hiccups in the areas of manpower development and logistics (platforms), the organisation has lived up to its bidding. Just recently, and may be as part of its social responsibility to the immediate community in which it operates, the Western Naval Command Apapa, the operational hub of the Nigerian Navy under the leadership of Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogbo, showed to the world that apart from the uniforms they wear which seemingly distinguishes them from the civil society, they equally identify with “bloody civilians”.
This, the Command recently showcased by extending a hand of fellowship to patients of the spinal cord injury association, Lagos by donating over two dozens of wheel chairs, plastic chairs and some food items to the association.
The Command did not stop there: it equally went to one of the state owned primary schools in Ijora Oloye also in Apapa which building had gone decrepit by not only carrying out renovation of the classrooms, it sank a borehole and also floored the entire premises with interlocking tiles to control the recurring flooding that is synonymous with the area.
Perhaps, the peak of the kind gestures exhibited by the Navy, was a medical rhapsody carried out in Ajeromi-Ifelodun local government area of Ajegunle, a densely populated community in Apapa. Through this several residents were tested and treated for malaria parasite, and free distribution of several hundreds of treated mosquito nets and condoms to members of the community.
The Flag Officer Commanding Western naval command, Rear Admiral Ogbo, while making the donation to the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Nigeria which office is located in Amuwo- Odofin, told the patients that the Nigerian Navy was part and parcel of the larger Nigerian society just as the people were equally part of the Navy. He said: “We have come here today to let you know that the Nigerian Navy is composed of Nigerians like you and I; so there is nothing different between us other than this uniforms we put on in the course of our daily duty. We want you to know that we feel the pains that you people go through as patients of spinal cord injury.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ola Sa’ aid Ibrahim has asked to deliver to you all, his good will message of hope and of courage. He shares in your predicaments. And so, on behalf of the chief of naval staff, it is my honour and privilege to donate this token to this organisation as part of the Navy’s social responsibilities to the immediate community in which it is operating. We are donating these 40 bags of rice, 20 wheel chairs, 15 cartons of groundnut oil and 40 plastic chairs to you as part of our widow’s mite. It is just to tell you that you are part of us and we are part of you”.
Reacting, the Chairman of the Spinal Cord Association of Nigeria, Mr. Obiora Ononugbu, who could not hide his joy and appreciation for the kind gesture, thanked representatives of the navy saying: “If other organisations in this country have been doing what you have just done, we would not have been complaining or feel alienated from the society. I want to tell us today that the Navy has been doing a wonderful job for this country by protesting our territorial waters. And for them to spare time from their tight schedules to reach out to us, the less-privileged in the society, is something worth commending. We thank you so much for this wonderful and kind gesture”.
Continuing, Mr. Ononogbu said: “Perhaps, it might interest you to note that the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Nigeria was formed way back in 1984 when some of us were at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi. Most of us here were not born with this ailment, we are victims of road accidents. Because there was no body or association addressing those who finds themselves in this condition, that was how the whole idea of forming this association came about”.