Opinion

About Nigeria’s confidence in the military

It is time for every Nigerian to consciously resolve to stand up to support the Nigerian military in the counter-insurgency war. The time has come to collectively save Nigeria. It is a collective responsibility. What has kept sustaining splashes of terror attacks in the Northeast is the retrogressive feeling by some people that the job of fighting Boko Haram is exclusively for the military. But it means much more than such simplistic inclinations.

Quite unfortunately, the hearts of patriotic Nigerians bled when perusing the comments on the July Boko Haram attack on a military escorted convoy of geologists, officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and members of the Civilian JTF on oil exploration mission in the Lake Chad Basin. It’s sad that casualties were recorded on every component of the team-the military, NNPC and civilian JTF.

But the views of some Nigerians on the incident, tilt more to an expression of happiness over the continuation of Boko Haram insurgency. They attacked the integrity of the Nigerian military and refuted claims that Boko Haram Terrortists (BHTs) have been defeated and narrowly refrained from branding the Nigerian troops as liars.

This is not patriotic. Those who have keenly followed terrorism development in Nigeria and the undercover reasons devilish forces would prefer to die than the reality of eliminating Boko Haram insurgency is economic. And precisely, the veiled forces work round the clock in creating insecurity in the oil territories of the Lake Chad Basin to sustain the illegal exploration of Nigeria’s crude oil in Lake Chad.

Nigerians are aware of this immutable truth and it is expected that terrorists will keep attacking any shadow at sight. It is the sad narrative of the incident in Borno Yesu District on the oil exploration team in Magumeri local government area of the state.

But let the truth be told unashamedly. One of the survivors of the incident hospitalized in Maiduguri was reported in the media as claiming the Boko Haram squad that ambushed and attacked their convoy numbered over 100 armed insurgents, who opened and sustained fire in all directions. It shudders the heart and indeed, questions the patriotism and loyalty of Nigerians living in these communities. If the accounts are true, that’s a large number of insurgents.

How could alien enemy forces move into a community, with arms ammunitions, in trucks and probably waited for a whole day in ambush without anybody alerting security agents? Boko Haram insurgents are human beings and not ghosts. And so can be spotted. Yet, everyone remained silent; but it is the same persons celebrating the attack, berating the Nigerian military and uttering all manner of inanities against their own country and soldiers who are doing a lot to end terrorism.

It brings to the fore the issue of public communication and the role civilians and indeed, every Nigerian must elect upon himself to play in the counter-terrorism campaigns. Soldiers are not magicians and they only act when information is at their disposal. Information gathering and sharing is an indispensable factor in winning counter-terrorism wars anywhere in the world. And whatever success the Nigerian military has recorded in the counter-insurgency war in the country, streams from the intelligence information at their disposal, which compels rapid response.

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But lately, Nigerians and even security institutions have abdicated on this sensitive role, as the incident in Borno Yesu has indicated. There is still no alternative to it. This is reinforced by the communiqué issued after a meeting of Service Chiefs in Maiduguri, who relocated to the area based on a Presidential directive.

The communiqué signed by Major Gen. John Eneche, the Director Defence information was explicit in pleading with Nigerians to provide veritable information to fast track the counter-insurgency operation in the North-East, as such information is necessary to identify insurgents “sleeper cell” locations, concentration camps and out-post locations. It also said, “The army appeals to the people to report isolated settlements and camps outside normal living areas”.

That is the extent of the involvement of the civil population in the counter-insurgency operations. But this aspect has been ignored and those who celebrate more the consequences of such abdications are terrorists and their agents. And good spirited Nigerians are blindly hoodwinked into the propaganda game by reeling out blames on the Nigerian military.

Sometimes, it defeats sound wisdom to give a dog a bad name just to hang it. The Chief of Army Staff and leader of the Counter-insurgency war, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai, an expert in the management of crisis communication had deployed the propaganda machinery of the Nigerian Army to defeat terrorists’ assets in the media space. This actually work the magic despite resistance from an infinitesimal disgruntled few in the society.

The Nigerian Army has fought the counter-insurgency war both in the battlefield and the cyberspace. They have gone the whole hog to ensure that Boko Haram does not use media hype to turn the population against the Army, by instantly pre-emptying or deflating false propaganda.

And the Nigerian military ought to be supported to further overwhelm the publicity instruments of terrorists and their agents. It is uncharitable, immoral and unpatriotic for Nigerians to become publicists for terrorists, while ignoring their own little contributions to the anti-terrorism campaigns such as alerting security agents about movement and camp cells of terrorists, which some Nigerians are privileged to know, but prefer to conceal.

It is wrong for some Nigerians to perpetually seek to dampen the spirit of troops in the counter-insurgency operations. They have been faithful to Nigerians and where they err in communication to the Nigerian audience on any incident; they humbly retract and apologize to the people like in the instance of the casualty, rescue or abduction figures of the Borno Yesu incident.

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It is an exceptional display of enviable level of integrity and underscores the honour that has been brought to bear on the reputation of Nigeria’s military. But while the fog lasted, some Nigerians were using the error in figures to lambast the Nigerian military, as if they deliberately set out to misinform Nigerians.

If Nigerians wish to see to the end of terrorism in the country such mindsets should be purged. Only finding faults in the operations of the military in the counter-insurgency is a serious setback. Nigerians should rather search for ways to assist the military overcome evolving hurdles as they battle insurgency.

Nigerians should be ashamed and think of a better outing with the Country Report on Terrorism 2016, published by the US Department of State’s Bureau for Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism, which indicted even sister security agencies of complicating the counter-terrorism war by hoarding or refusal to share intelligence report in the fight against Boko Haram.

These are issues Nigerians should strive to address, as against the constant blaming of the Nigerian military over perceived lapses in the counter-terrorism war. The military has demonstrated an abiding faith by its ceaseless and mutual interactions with the civil populace and Nigerians should reciprocate by assisting with privileged information, to end terrorism in Nigeria.

However, whatever is the situation, the gimmicks remnants of terrorists have employed to re-enact the presence of terrorism, cannot alter the narrative about the defeat of terrorism in the country. Boko Haram factional leader, Abubakar Shekau is obviously angry for losing his major commanders, many of whom recently capitulated to the superiors fire force of the Nigerian military and renounced terrorism.

The recent ambush in BornoYesu is a desperate bid to create an impression that they have finally resurrected. But it is a farce, as loudly proclaimed by the arrival of the Service Chiefs in Maiduguri and actions initiated. Nigeria can never return to terrorism, as Shekau is just inches away to being captured.

No doubt, majority of Nigerians are united behind the military and the few been deceived by terrorist agents are getting wiser with emerging illuminations. To this end, Nigerian should not forget that Nigerian troops too are human and also sustain casualties during Boko Haram attacks. They deserve sympathy and not bashing alone; they need to be consoled when necessary; they have to be applauded when they reclaim Boko Haram captured territories. Every Nigerian must necessarily know that he is a brother stakeholder in the counter-insurgency campaigns, who suffers losses, pains and must join in the fight against insurgency. That’s the only way out.

– Abubakar sent this piece from Abuja

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