Government cluelessness and insensitivity combined with mischief and odious propaganda to create pandemonium in Anambra State and anxiety in other states of the South East today.
The Nigerian Army showed up at a school in Ozubulu on a proclaimed medical mission. The Nigerian Army is not known for medical purposes, and probably not in the South East. Agencies known for health interventions are the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, NGOs and other UN agencies as well as state and federal ministries of health.
The so-called mission was against the backdrop of Operation Python Dance and the recent massacre in a church in the same Ozubulu. There was no sensitization, nor did they carry the host State Government along.
Before the Army showed up, some say in full combat gear, IPOB had spent some days demonising the mission and creating doubt, suspicion and fear. No one made any effort to address it.
It is grossly insensitive, lacking in forethought and unprofessional to conduct such an exercise anywhere in the South East now. This government ought to buy, borrow or grab intelligence somewhere. They put their foot in the mouth too often.
The concept of a Nigerian Army CSR effort is at best an oxymoron and does not resonate in the circumstances of the relationship between the Army, the Federal Government and the populace in the South East.
What medical emergency informed this mission? What specific pathology would it tackle? What statistics indicated the need for it in the South East? Which bodies or medical authorities agreed on the protocol? Why now?
There is a more significant concern about this insensitive action, the negative twist and its consequences. It is the larger truth for the people in Ala Igbo. Our people have to be careful not to take actions that ultimately harm our region in areas of significance. Health care is one. If IPOB succeeds in implanting seeds of doubt about medical missions such as vaccination, the South East will pay a considerable price.
IPOB is creating an atmosphere of distrust in Government in the South East, and this concerns federal, state and local governments. They are doing so insidiously, rather than the strategic one of utilising their influence to create change within the system.
Moreover, Governments of the South East need to be more proactive. For more than a week, messages against the proposed military mission played strongly on social media. Lately, the protagonists included the unfolding monkeypox, alleging that the Nigerian Army would infect people with it. I reprimanded all those who forwarded the message to me. What did our Governments do in the South East? Did they reach the Nigerian Army to express concern or to verify what the mission entailed? Did they communicate with citizens based on their interventions?
They did nothing. The Anambra State Government reacted after the fact today. The Abia State Government thankfully also issued statements to douse the tension ahead of any probable “medical mission” to Abia State.
After Umuahia, the response was little and late.
The situation is also ironic. Nigeria was one of the last outposts to conquer polio in the world because of a similar misinformation and miseducation in the North. Their elders spread the story that created fear about vaccination despite two significant epidemics. For a group that caricatures the North, it is saddening that this organisation in the South East would copy the footsteps that led to so much harm.
Creating distrust in governance in general in the South East would have harmful consequences for the people, more than for those IPOB claims to be fighting. Children ran away from school today. The incident may scar some for a long while. Tone down, please, on the negativism so as not to harm our people.

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