Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Monday, performed the groundbreaking for the Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA) Wellness Centre and pledged the legislature’s support for its actaulisation.
The NAOWA Wellness Centre is an initiative of the wife of the Chief of Army Staff and President of NAOWA, Mrs Fati Attahiru, to address problem of mental health among army personnel and their wives.
The facility is designed to provide services that will meet the mental, emotional and psychological needs of the military personnel, their families and the public.
Gbajabiamila commended NAOWA for the initiative and appreciated officers and soldiers of Nigerian Army, who had sacrificed their lives for the peace and security of the nation.
He said that the project would provide opportunity to address the needs of the body and the mind of both serving and non-serving officers, who had been involved in fighting wars.
He also commended the spouses of the officers and soldiers for being able to singlehandedly manage the home fronts while their husbands were defending the nation.
“When we talk about sickness, wellness and health, we are not just talking about the body or physical health; we talk about the mental and the soul.
“For many sometimes, the mind is even more powerful than the body and it is for this reason that this project is all important.
“You will agree with me that wellness is an essential ingredient in living a healthy and fulfilling life, a healthy body and sound mind.
“With this in mind, the House, on March 22, made a recommendation to Nigerian Army to improve the welfare of its personnel and following our recommendation, I am happy to see this kind of project coming up,” he said.
The Speaker said that over 50 million Nigerians were affected by mental illness as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other stress related issues.
He, however, urged for support from governors, legislators and other well meaning Nigerians to support NAOWA’s plan to have the centre in all the states of the federation.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the initiative would address preventive and curative as well as rehabilitative health.
Ehanire said the initiative would not only serve the military but all of the society, adding that there were prevalent of physical and mental abuses leading to emotional and mental stress.
According to him, it is understandable in the military because of the strain of the profession such as anxiety and survival issues.
“It is commendable that the Army Officers Wives have taken this very important feet forwards.
“Physical health is what we generally focus on and right now we focus on COVID-19, Lassa among other things and it is not unusual that in doing that, or looks as if we are leaving mental and social health behind.
“For this end, this initiative has the support of the ministry of health and I will like to say that we will like to see this replicated in other states of the federation,” he said.
Speaking, the President of NAOWA, Mrs Attahiru, said that the centre was not a luxury but a facility that was urgently needed to address issues of serious concern.
Attahiru disclosed that the association had plans to replicate the centre in the six geopolitical zones of the country within a short period, adding that the centre would work closely with army medical corps.
She, however, solicited for the support of the government, corporate organisations and individuals to enable her to complete the centre.
According to her, NAOWA is conscious of the fact that there was grieve over the loss of loved ones, post traumatic disorder, depression and mental instability among them.
“Rather than ignore it, we want to address this issue and this wellness centre will be a haven for us to fish out and collectively find solution.
“For me, this signifies hope and gives me the rare opportunity of taken front seat to address am urgent need that would better our lives and the lives of most of us.
“It is borne out of several distress calls from members of the various communities and in some cases friends of the military, who are directly or indirectly battling with depression and needed assistance,” she said.
The event was attended by the Wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari, represented by her Special Assistant, Mrs Mairo Al’Makura and the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen.
Others are Governors Yahaya Bello of Kogi and Hope Uzodinma of Imo as well as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipriye Silva and members of the National Assembly. (NAN)