Residents of Ipodo community in Ikeja area of Lagos State woke up to receive unusual visitors in the neighborhood on Saturday.
A battalion of military personnel from the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army swarmed the neighbourhood in early hours for environmental sanitation, cleaning streets of filth.
Led by the Commander of 9 Brigade in Ikeja, Brigadier-General Nasir Mohammed Jega, the troops moved to the area with sanitation materials, including shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows, to carry the exercise organised in commemoration of the Nigerian Army Day.
The startled residents watched in awe as the soldiers dropped their riffles and swept the streets, clearing the drainages of PET bottles and used sachets.
The sanitation started from Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Way to Olowu Street and ended Oriyomi Street.
The exercise was also held simultaneously in Ikoyi and Ojo areas of the state, where the troops engaged in cleaning exercise.
On the choice of sanitation as part of activities marking the Day, Brig-Gen. Jega said the military leadership in Lagos was excited by the environmental approach of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu
administration, pointing out that the exercise became a necessity to encourage Lagos residents on the need to promote cleanliness.
He said: “Nigerian Army believes in the cleanliness and we promote green activities as community service, because healthy environment brings about higher productivity. We are also doing this in support of the environmental initiative of the Lagos State Governor.
“We chose Ipodo community in Ikeja for this exercise since it is close to our 9 Brigade Cantonment.
“The sanitation is also to promote cordial relationship between the Nigerian Army and civilians living in communities around our formations. This is a directive from the Chief of Army Staff,” he said.
Brig-Gen. Jega said the Army also organised a free medical outreach to mark the Day adding that the celebration will also feature thanksgiving services at the church and mosque, before it would be wrapped up by a parade on the final day.
Residents hailed the soldiers for the exercise, describing it as “uncommon service from men in uniform”.
A resident of Olowu Street, Mr. Ogbonna Onwuzurike, said the gesture of the soldiers would prod residents into action to keep the area clean.
“We are excited that military officers are taking steps to improve their relationship with civilians. This is one of the ways to show that soldiers are friendly. I couldn’t have imagined soldiers would engage in this kind of activity, much less coming to clean up our drainages.
“This gesture would encourage residents and owners of businesses on this street to dedicate time for sanitation. “Before the soldiers came, used plastic bottles and nylon had blocked the drainages. Now that the gutters have been cleared, we can sleep with our eyes closed.”