General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, has declared that the Nigerian Army is winning the war against drug abuse in barracks and theatres by deploying international best practices.
The GOC, who was represented by the chief of staff of the division, Brig.-Gen. Greg Omoregbe, disclosed this at the inauguration of a three-day capacity building seminar on evidence-based drug prevention, treatment and control.
The seminar was organised by the Division in collaboration with Bensther Development Foundation and facilitated by 82 Division Medical Services and Hospital.
It was meant for non-medical commanders, principal staff officers, commanding officers, adjutants, administrative officers and decision makers.
According to him, in recent time, the Nigerian Army had deployed international best practices in dealing with issues of drug abuse, spending resources and manpower to treat and rehabilitate personnel and relations back to normalcy.
He said: “As you are all aware, military mobilisation, deployment and combat are often associated with severe mental and psychological stress for both the serving personnel and family members.
“Drug abuse has become increasingly recognised as a major coping mechanism, which has contributed to untoward behaviours amongst personnel and family members.
“The resultant effect of this rising trend is the negative impact on troops’ general health, discipline, unit cohesion, family function and general unit administration.
“Drug abuse also contributes in no small measure to various degrees of psychological incapacitation among affected individuals.
“Psychological incapacitation among troops and family dysfunction, negatively affects fighting capacity and unit operational effectiveness and efficiency.
“It is in recognition of this fact that 82 Division Medical Services and Hospital considered it necessary to partner with Bensther Development Foundation to organise this capacity building and mental health training for officers and decision makers in 82 Division.
“The seminar is designed to build the capacity and knowledge of participants so that you will be better placed to educate troops under command and their families on the dangers of drug abuse, prevention, treatment and control strategies.
“The choice of this audience is deliberate because of the pride of place you all occupy in the chain of command in the military as decision makers.
“You were all deliberately chosen to attend this seminar because the troops and families in the barracks/cantonments look up to you for guidance and direction in their daily lives”.
The GOC charged officers attending the seminar to approach it with all seriousness and share experiences while relating to their troops and barracks/cantonments members so that drug abuse would be totally eliminated in the nearest future.
Lagbaja also commended the Bensther Development Foundation for finding the division worthy of the seminar, adding; “We are thanking the foundation for its uncommon generosity in providing the resources.”
In his address, the executive director of Bensther Development Foundation, Mr Nonso Maduka, lauded the Nigerian Army for adopting international best practice of treating its personnel with drug abuse ailment instead of abandoning or stigmatising such personnel.