Thrills @ Man O’ War Patron Retreat, Induction (photo)

National Commander, Man O’War, Colonel Sanni Adamu Despia (rtd)

It was the first ever patron retreat and induction of members of the Man O’War. 
Held at the Sheraton Hotels and towers, Ikeja the event with the theme: Supporting Community Development Through Volunteerism: The Role of Man O’ War Nigeria witnessed a robust activity with emphasis on supporting community development through volunteerism.
L-R: National Commander, Man O’War, Colonel Sanni Adamu Despia (rtd), Sea School Co-ordinator, Mr. Tajudeen Oludare, Man O War, grand patron, Chief Okey Madueke, Lagos State Commander, Comrade Mba Charles Ogbonnaya

Commander, Area H Command Eti-Osa, Ayodele Ajayi and Lagos State Commander, Comrade Mba Charles Ogbonnaya

In his remark, the Director General, Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre, Mr. Jonah Bawa ably represented by Sea School Co-ordinator, Mr. Tajudeen Oludare enlightened the audience about the essence of Man O’ War which is a voluntary organization and its primary role of community development through volunteerism.
National Commander, Man O’War, Colonel Sanni Adamu Despia (rtd) exhaustibly dealt with the theme even as he offered practical solutions to some of the challenges the organization is facing as well as suggested practicable way forward.

Further explaining his experience since he assumed leadership of the volunteer organization, Despia who retired from the Nigerian army 2015 said:  “ Like I said from the beginning, I wasn’t a member of the Man O’ War and I think that somewhere along the line, I was called that Man O’ War  needed a retired senior officer to look at the organization and I said its ok, it’s a challenge. When I came in, the first thing I did was to ask the Man O’ War, how they are; each state commander has its own variant of the number he has, 200, 5000, 6000 but at the end of the day, we hadn’t a data base showing the exact numbers of members of Man O’ War. I suggested we verify the members and register them. The basis is to develop a data base that we know and vouch to. If we found a criminal element in the processes, that person would be sent out. As at now, we have about 8,600 registered members. And I think more people are coming in.

First, the Man O’ War was established as a second mandate of citizenship leadership training centre. The centre is an informal kind of training institution that acts like ‘train the trainer.’ It rebuilds the man. They have about eight (8) schools spread across the country. Most of those schools target the young and elderly to retrain them, give them character rebuilding training. Anywhere you see the NYSC camps, the Man O’ War members do the training in terms of physical training, character moulding, self confidence but that is what is expected of each and every young man to rediscover who he is and have that self confidence.

No doubt funding is an issue. I had itemized the sources of funding. There is no voluntary organization that would run without funding, So, it behoves on the government to put structures in place and people will begin to contribute. Perhaps, a surgeon based in the U.S, returns homes and goes to the hospital to under the Man O’ War and carry out some surgical operation before he returns to base has contributed. Same for an Engineer among others.

In the area of crisis management, when there is a natural disaster like flooding, most of the members of the Man O’ War from the community where those issues came up can assist. It is easier to act as first rescuer before the middle rescuer comes in.

In any society if you lack the capacity to do early warning signal in terms of information you will have problem. Why we have cattle rearing, farm attacks issue is because people are not ready to give information. Kidnappers are living within us, they know but nobody wants to give out the information but somebody can volunteer and inform the police. If at the end of the day what you suspected is found to be correct, you have assisted in no small measure. In the U.S., the man hour services rendered on voluntary issue was about $175b and paid. Why can’t we replicate this in Nigeria? We can do it because we have the capacity but then you must begin to interact, give reasons why these things should be done.

In most states I can say we are doing well. When you go to most states you find them controlling traffic. On Sunday they are assisting the church and Fridays, the mosque.  Some people don’t see it as something but it contributes.  Sometimes, you see them at sports events manning the gate, nobody pays them. They assist in schools too like in Plateau state.”

For the Lagos State Commander, Comrade Mba Charles Ogbonnaya; “the programme we are having is the induction of our patron forum. We have a lot of patrons in Lagos and we have to bring them together as one body so that they can be meeting quarterly on their own, work together and be able to support the organization more better as a unit instead of individually. We have discovered that patronship of volunteer organizations like Man O’ War helps a lot and goes a long way in helping the organization to sustain their work and mandate. We find it necessary to bring them together so that we can have a more sustainable social service activities in Lagos.

The major challenge in Lagos State command like every other organization is funding and support from the Lagos State government. They are working for Lagos state government but the necessary equipments needed are not being provided. We are hoping that with the pronouncements of some of the leaders we have today, we will make effort to reach out to the 57 CDAs, I think we may have more attention from them.”

Commenting on his task and contributions as Commander, Area H Command Eti-Osa, Ayodele Ajayi  says, “ My take in taking up this task as the area commander is to help build youths. We find out that in our society, we have lots of youths. Some are employable, some are not. They wander about without providing any service to the community and the essence of Man O’ War is to build the man, build the community. How can you give back to your community when you don’t have anything to give? One of the major tasks I have taken upon myself is to make sure I empower the young men in my area command. I want to make them useful to themselves and in return the area command. All what we said today is that funding is a major issue but for me beyond funding, I’m looking for partnership. We have a lot of organizations in the community that we can render service to and in return get funding from them.

A very good example is that if we say we want to control traffic in Victoria Island area for example, we can talk to one or two companies asking them to give us reflective jacket, we will have their brand on it. That is free advert for them. In doing that, we are solving a major problem in the society and in return the boys are paid. These are one of the ways I have thought of to empower these young people as some of them do not even have a job. And they need to feed and take care of themselves. This platform is an opportunity to open our minds to people around us to recognize us in the first place and to know what we are capable of doing. Then, make ourselves available to impact society.

Ajayi gave insight of who can become a member. He said: “Anybody can join especially if you are a responsible citizen but we do our background checks. When you fill your form, you have guarantors. One way we use in recruiting people is to go to secondary schools basically. Like me, I joined Man O’ War when I was in JSS 3 and I continued. I identified with the Man O’ War in the state where I was schooling and then I continued. We have members from the public. Some people also invite their friends and colleagues.”

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