*Signs pact with Nwoko Foundation to change negative perception on military

*Leads Teni, 29 other top artists to honour perform for troops in North East

By Joseph Erunke

THE Defence Headquarters, DHQ, has lamented that public misconducts of some soldiers in recent times were giving the public negative perception about the Nigerian Military.
This was as it appealed to the public not to use the actions of some few soldiers to label the Nigerian Military in a bad light, saying the misbehaviours by some soldiers were as a result of frustrations and personal challenges.
To this end, the DHQ has entered into a collaboration with Ned Nwoko Foundation to create awareness to the civil populace with a view to changing the negative perception about the military.
The Chief of Defence State, General Gabriel Olonisakin, speaking Sunday evening, when he led some top officers of the various arms of the Nigerian Military on a visit to business mogul and Founder of Ned Nwoko Foundation, Ned Nwoko, in Abuja, said the actions of the soldiers were not representations of the Nigerian Military.
Represented by the Chief of Defence Civil/Military Corporation, Rear Admiral Obed Ngalabak, the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, noted that the attitudes of the soldiers were occasioned by frustrations and personal challenges.
He said given the negative perception the public had on the military following some attitudes of the bad eggs in the service,  the DHQ team had the mission to enter an agreement with the foundation to coordinate the military interaction with the people and institutions in the country.
Rear Admiral Ngalabak told Nwoko that: “The Chief of Defence Staff has asked that we meet you because the civil-military relations is bad, it needs to be brought together and a person like you will go a long way to support this project.”
“There was a certain article on some soldiers recently misbehaving in Lagos, but  I want to say that in every family, there are black sheep and this is just an example of that.
“Sometimes, it is because of the challenges they themselves are having; they are frustrated and they have no way of letting it out and so sometimes they behave like that but that is not saying that is who we are, its not everybody.
“We are trying to use this opportunity to correct some of these impressions and make people understand that the military is Nigerians, they are fighting for Nigeria and what we are doing is for Nigerians,” he added.
While thanking Nwoko for his avowed determination to end malaria not only in Nigeria but Africa in general, he appealed to the philanthropist to take the battle against malaria in another form.
Hear him: “We are aware of the immense work you are doing to combat malaria, not just in Nigeria but across Africa.
“We know that malaria is a number one killer, it actually kills much more than AIDS and another sickness that we are aware of. I have lost a sister personally, I know how it feels and it is a devastating disease.
“The fight you are doing in combatting it is very heartwarming and the chief of defence staff is aware of it but we want you to fight another malaria in another form; the relationship.”
According to him, “The Civil/Military Relations Department was created because we came to realise that the military is always doing things in isolation and there is need for the people we are fighting for to know what we are doing because they don’t know what we are doing.”
“We have not taken time to explain to our sisters and brothers what we are doing, that is why we are doing what we are doing and we think that it is necessary for us to do that,” he added.
He spoke further: “We have tied it to this military remembrance period, we are doing on project whereby on Saturday, we are going to visit the troops in the front with some artists who will perform for them in the morning, after which we will come back and visit the widows and children of the deceased personnel who died in the frontline battle.
 “After that, in the evening they will be dual to dawn performance with artistes and comedians.
“The whole idea is to make the civilians understand what we are doing, why we are doing and to make them come close to us and let them know that we are not from outer space.
“We are Nigerians, we are fighting to keep Nigeria staff, they are our brothers and sisters we are part of them.”
Responding, the Founder, Ned Nwoko Foundation, Ned Nwoko said: “When I was in the House of Representatives, I was a member of the Committee on Defence and so we worked very closely with them. We did a lot with them and it is only a foolish person that doesn’t understand the importance of the work the military is doing. Whatever it is that we can do to support you, I am all for it.
“I particularly feel happy that there is a new department created to deal with this vacuum, dealing with civilians, making them understand that you are a part and parcel of all of us. It is like the police and community policing. I will play my role not just now but it will be a continuous role.
“The fight against malaria means a lot to me. We are looking at eradicating malaria in Africa starting with Nigeria.
“There are 54 countries in Africa, six of them are already malaria-free and we are trying to do what they did. The first one will fumigate Nigeria, it involves everyone because every home, every environment has to be fumigated.
Civilians and the military must come together to make that happen. We thought to do this simultaneously across Nigeria, dedicate one week for everybody to do this. You guys are fighting many things but let’s fight malaria together.
“Malaria is not a white man’s problem, it is Africa’s problem.
“We will collaborate with you in what you are doing, you will collaborate with us in what we are doing so that we can achieve some common goals. Everything that we are doing is for public service, public good,” he said.
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