By Pembi David-Stephen
It is undeniable that since the war against banditry in Katsina and parts of Kaduna set in, many innocent citizens have lost their lives. Many more have been displaced and others have been taken captive by the dare-devil criminals. It is also a fact that the Nation’s military has been on top of the situation and, in all its offensive launches, the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) has given a great account of itself, even though it has lost dear officers in the fight to keep the Nation and her citizens safe from the marauders.
The humane thing about the NAF’s approach, as always, is the inter-lacing of its activities in the war against the criminal elements with some humane psychosocial support for the victims and families of victims, by bringing them healthcare, food and non-food relief materials.
Most notable is the succour brought to those who have been internally displaced in Zonkwa, Zangon-Kataf Local Government Area (LGA) and Mariri in Lere LGA of Kaduna State, when the NAF commenced a 3-day medical outreach at each of the 2 locations for victims of recent armed banditry attacks in the state. The free medical services, an initiative of the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, began on 23 August 2020 and ended on August 29, 2020; accomplishing its aim of enhancing good civil-military relations between the NAF and its host communities, as well as alleviating the hardship being experienced by the IDPs who are currently camped at Mercy IDP Camp in Zonkwa and the Mariri IDP Camp in Lere LGA. The first phase of the medical outreach ended on 25 August 2020 while the outreach in Mariri will commence on 27 August 2020.
In its routine humane approach, the NAF has provided free healthcare services for the duration of the outreach, including free medical check-up and consultation with treatment of malaria, hypertension, diabetes, ulcers and provision of prescription medications, free dental examination/treatment, free visual acuity checks/provision of prescription eye glasses, free minor surgical procedures, de-worming and immunisation of children, as well as donation of insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
In order to leave the people empowered health-wise, the Force’s medical team gave health education talks on COVID-19 and distributed non-surgical cloth face masks to the IDPs, as well as cartons of noodles, soap, detergents, blankets and bags of staple foods (garri, rice and beans) to the IDPs.
While the NAF has entrenched its superiority in the fight against terror and crime in the Nation’s troubled spots, it has not failed in taking care of the most vulnerable produced by the situation – women, children and the aged – by providing food and non-food items, as well as core relief materials (CRMs) to help them cope with their new, unsa voury and unsettling reality.
In taking care of the IDPs and most vulnerable, as well as showing its humane side with these displaced populations, the NAF has succeeded in gaining goodwill, attracting useful tip-offs from sources and ensuring that it is always on the same page with the populace. This very strategic approach has left the force wining on the war-front and winning back hearts in the communities it is fighting to save.
Now, the people, though without weapons, fight beside the force in will and in acceptance of the support they bring their way. Sure victory – even though it will come at a great price, like all meaningful victories – has never been more guaranteed.
The comments of the Chairman of Zangon-Kataf LGA, Dr Elias Manza, mirrored this. Manza, who was represented by his deputy, Tonac Yakubu, appreciated the NAF for the kind gesture and promised to partner with the service to ensure a successful outing. “Despite the fact that we are bereaved, we were very excited when we heard that the NAF was organizing a medical outreach in Zonkwa. We are very delighted. I want to say thank you so much for seeing through our plight and coming to commiserate with us and also to take care of our sick and displaced people. Our joy knows no bound and we pray that this heart of kindness and concern is just the beginning of what we would see the NAF doing in our midst,” he said.
Even the royals queued to express their gratitiude. In their separate messages, the Agwam Bajju, His Royal Highness Mallam Nuhu Bature, represented by Ogwatia Stephen Akut and the Agwam Atyap, represented by Biliock Waje, appreciated the CAS and the entire NAF family for the medical outreach.
Members of the Community, who turned out in their large numbers, were also full of appreciation to the NAF for its continued support in the provision of security and free medical services to the people of the LGA. The war against bandits in Katsina and Kaduna has claimed a handful of good men on both the side of the communities and the Force but, the good news remains that, in spite of the casualties suffered by the undesirable elements who wish to make the nation insecure for law-abiding citizens, the force will not let it slide, until every last one of them is down under the earth and the good people of these hinter communities in Katsina and Kaduna get their lives back again and have peace; howbeit as gradually as time and circumstances will allow.