The Commander, 16th Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier-General, Kelvin Aligbe, has urged Nigerians to see the army as its pride and to take ownership of the military institution.
The commander spoke in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, when he led troops to undertake environmental sanitation and to donate medical materials to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) and other hospitals as part of activities for the ongoing Operation Crocodile Smile II in the Niger Delta region.
He urged the people not to panic during the period of the military operation adding that the exercise was designed to improve the professional capabilities of soldiers.
Aligbe said the insinuations and suspicions against the military exercise were untrue insisting there was no cause for alarm.
“Nigerians should take ownership of the army and see the army as the pride of the nation and that’s exactly what we have come here to demonstrate within the context of operation crocodile smile II.
“Operation Crocodile Smile II is intended to increase the rhythm of our combat operations in the creeks and land-based activities.
”At the end of the day, the operational skills of all those participating will be sharpened and of course, we would have gained more mileage in our operational capabilities.
”This, of course, you know a lot resources have been committed to the operations to boost what we are doing and so what probably we would have covered in three months will be able to cover in just one month.
”So, the operation is going to increase the rhythm of our operations as well as the mileage we are going to attain in terms of our operational gains.”
Aligbe said the sanitation was one of the series of activities lined up for the operation adding that aside from the routine activities in the creeks, rivulets and all land patrols for confidence building, the military also decided to undertake some community relations activities.
He said the donation was part of the medical outreaches of the Army within the context of its community relationship in their area of operations.
He denounced rumour that the Army was giving vaccines and carrying out immunisation at schools.
Aligbe said: “During our medical outreaches, we do not give vaccines, we do not do immunisation. We do basic medical checks and then offer medical materials to individuals that need them and it not by force.
”You will be surprised that in this time and age when you have social media that not even a shadow of the so-called people dressed in military uniform were caught on camera, especially with everybody having a cell phone that has camera in it.
”Not even one school, not anywhere the same message, the same rumour that was heard in other states. Unfortunately, the rumour was replicated here in Yenegoa on Friday and caused a lot of apprehension. But as leaders, we must stay on the path of truth in making sure that the services that is expected of us are delivered to the people.”
In his remarks, the FMC Public Relations Officer, who received Aligbe and other Army officers on behalf of the hospital management, said they were highly elated to receive the medical items.
Akpedi said: ”As a federal government facility, we are highly elated to receive the medical items.
”We know very well that this is the beginning of better relationship with the Nigerian Army not just for the staff of this hospital but Bayelsa State in general.”