… As GOC says Nigerian Army winning fight against drug abuse in barracks, theatres***
Retired Maj.-Gen. Abba Dikko, National Coordinator, National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, has solicited the support of the Army to rid the country of illicit arms.
Dikko said when he visited the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya, on Tuesday in Abuja, that collaboration between the two and other stakeholders would help to make the country illicit arms-free.
The coordinator said in a statement issued by the Centre’s Director of Strategic Communications and Information, Group Capt. Ewejide Akintunde, that the participation of stakeholders was key to the eradication of illicit arms and institutionalising control.
He particularly noted that the collaboration would enable the centre to get the needed expertise from the Army in the area of disarmament and demobilisation.
According to him, the collaboration will also be in the collection, storage, destruction, management and stockpiling of seized unmarked and illegally held Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), among others.
Responding, the Chief of Army Staff, commended the centre for identifying with the Nigerian army as the vanguard in the fight against the proliferation of illicit SALW and related materials.
Yahaya commended the efforts of the centre and reiterated that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons remained the bane of insecurity in the country.
He pledged the support of the Nigerian army to the centre in its efforts to rid the nation of illicit arms.
In the meantime, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, says the Army was winning the fight against drug abuse in barracks and theatres through the deployment of international best practices.
Lagbaja, who was represented by the Chief of Staff of the Division, Brig.-Gen. Greg Omoregbe, said this at the inauguration of a three-day capacity-building seminar on evidence-based drug prevention, treatment and control.
The seminar, organised by the Division, in collaboration with Bensther Development Foundation, and facilitated by the 82 Division Medical Services and Hospital, was meant for non-medical commanders, principal staff officers, commanding officers, adjutants, administrative officers and decision-makers.
The GOC said that in recent times, the Nigerian Army had deployed international best practices in dealing with issues of drug abuse, spending resources and manpower to treat and rehabilitate personnel and relations suffering the after-effects of drug abuse back to normalcy.
He said: “As you are all aware, military mobilisation, deployment and combat are often associated with severe mental and psychological stress for both the serving personnel and family members.
“Drug abuse has become increasingly recognised as a major coping mechanism, which has contributed to untoward behaviours amongst personnel and family members.
“The resultant effect of this rising trend is the negative impact on troops’ general health, discipline, unit cohesion, family function and general unit administration.
“Drug abuse also contributes, in no small measure, to various degrees of psychological incapacitation among affected individuals.
“Psychological incapacitation among troops and family dysfunction negatively affects fighting capacity and unit operational effectiveness and efficiency.
“It is in recognition of this fact that 82 Division Medical Services and Hospital considered it necessary to partner with Bensther Development Foundation to organize this capacity building and mental health training for officers and decision-makers in the 82 Division.
“The seminar is designed to build the capacity and knowledge of participants so that you will be better placed to educate troops under your command and their families, on the dangers of drug abuse, prevention, treatment and control strategies.
“The choice of this audience is deliberate because of the pride of place you all occupy in the chain of command in the military as decision-makers.
“You were all deliberately chosen to attend this seminar because the troops and families in the barracks/cantonments look up to you for guidance and direction in their daily lives”, the GOC said.
He charged officers attending the seminar to approach it with all seriousness and share experiences while relating to their troops and barracks/cantonments members so that drug abuse would be totally eliminated in the nearest future.
Lagbaja also thanked the Bensther Development Foundation for finding the Division worthy of the seminar, adding; “We are thanking the foundation for its uncommon generosity in providing the resources”.
Speaking, Executive Director of Bensther Development Foundation, Mr Nonso Maduka, lauded the Nigerian Army for already adopting a working international best practice of treating its personnel with drug abuse ailment instead of abandoning or stigmatising such personnel.
“Our work is made easier since the Army has already adopted the international best practice of treating and caring for its personnel with drug abuse ailment for three months free-of-charge and ensuring that such fellow is fully rehabilitated and re-integrated.
“This is quite commendable and innovative of the Nigerian Army, being likely the first Army to adopt such robust practice in Africa.
“Thus, the Nigerian Army is seeing its personnel with drug abuse issues as people suffering a public health issue that needed medical help and support to get back to normal,” Maduka said.
He said that the seminar would involve a series of lectures and expositions that would aid the officers to make informed policy and administrative decisions on drug abuse and ultimately help to prevent drug abuse in the first place.
“The foundation will be looking at the possibility of supporting the Division’s hospital, especially its drug rehabilitation department/unit, with facilities to further facilitate the treatment and rehabilitation process within its limited resources,” he assured.
The Bensther Development Foundation is being supported by UNITE Global Network of Parliamentarians and the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Drug policy reform.