By Chinelo Obogo
The governorship candidate of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Osita Chidoka, has said that the recent uproar in the state over the free vaccines offered by the military to school children was an indication that residents distrust the army.
Viola Okolie, the media director of Osita Chidoka Campaign Organization in a statement, said the campaign was concerned about the panic caused by the conflicting reports over a medical outreach organised by the military in some schools in the state.
There was pandemonium across the South-East and Delta State following rumours that some immunisation officers accompanied by persons in army uniforms invaded schools and were injecting children with unusual vaccines.
Following the unsubstantiated rumour, parents and guardians stormed schools to ‘rescue’ their wards thereby causing heavy traffic and commotion.
This came in the wake of the medical outreach embarked upon by troops as part of its package for the ongoing ‘Operation Python Dance’ codenamed Egwu Eke.
Chidoka said that even though his campaign has nothing against any genuine social responsibility service by the military, he was disturbed by the twist of events which shows the intensity of mistrust and lack of confidence in the military occasioned by undesirable effects of the Operation Python Dance II.
“This is not the first time the military will be undertaking such exercise, but the panic and rejection that confronted the latest exercise speak volumes of the gap that now, unfortunately, exists between the military and the civilian population in the South-East due to the Operation Python Dance.
“While they were running from the military, many residents were trooping to similar interventions including that organized by the Chidoka Campaign, which recorded hundreds of medical interventions in Onitsha, the same Wednesday. Our medical team has been in the field for several weeks now and is still attending to people without any incident.
“Our take, therefore, is that the Operation Python Dance has painfully eroded the faith and confidence the citizens hitherto had in the military as their pillar of protection. The professional misconduct of some unscrupulous uniformed men involved in the exercise has succeeded in instilling fear in civilians while retarding their desired reliance on the military for such laudable interventions.
“Consequently, we urge the military high command not to gloss over this incident but take urgent and practical steps to allay the fears of the people and rebuild public confidence in the noble institution of the military, especially in the South East.
“The first step towards this is for the military authorities to immediately end the Operation Python Dance II and withdraw soldiers from the streets. This is in addition to releasing the outcome of its investigation on reported rights violations in the Operation Python Dance II, while appropriate sanctions are meted out on erring officers,” the statement reads. (The Sun)