Ten years into the war against Boko Haram, Nigeria government institutes respect for the military.
In addition to the Annual Armed Forces Remembrance Day, the federal government has introduced a national campaign to make respect for the military a national ethos in Nigeria. Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, formally launched the campaign in Abuja, yesterday, February 7 with spokespersons of
Titled, National Campaign in support of the military, Mohammed said it was “a follow-up to the hugely successful National Campaign Against Insecurity which we launched on February. 16th, 2016, with the punch line: ‘If you see something, say something.’’ He explained the necessity for the initiative: “We believe that the men and women in uniform who are risking all, including making the supreme sacrifice, to keep us safe deserve the support and prayers of all Nigerians, not vilification, insults and other acts that are capable of dampening their morale.”
The 60 seconds jingle shows footages of male and female soldiers in difficult fighting terrains in the Northeast and their equipment. The campaign will be multi-faceted, explained the Minister: “It will include the production and airing of special jingles on radio and television, social media intervention and advocacy.” He called on the media to support the campaign.
“We are launching this campaign, to mobilize the majority of the good people of Nigerians, irrespective of their political, religious or ethnic leanings, to show support for our military. It is high time that everybody joined in supporting this global war (against insurgency). It’s not unusual, as a matter of fact it’s usually the practice, that when a country is faced with this kind of
challenge, people will sink their differences and work together.”
Journalists lauded the initiative but argued it appeared to be ill-timed when the nation was primed for general election in a week’s time. The media also felt the clip could do with a makeover, including footages that would invoke kindred emotions in the people and bring a communal affinity.
However, Mohammed said it was long overdue and not political. He lauded the military and noted that “as our gallant men and women in uniform clear the remnants of the home-grown
insurgency called Boko Haram, they are confronting a fresh crisis, a global insurgency. A faction of Boko Haram has aligned with the global terror group, ISIS, to form ISWAP, the Islamic State’s West African Province. In other words, ISIS now has a strong foothold in West
Africa – with Nigeria in the forefront of the battle against them. With ISIS largely dislodged from Iraq and Syria, there is undoubtedly a flush of fresh fighters and weapons to ISWAP. Therefore,
our military is fighting a global insurgency, without the kind of global coalition, including the United States, that battled ISIS in Syria and Iraq.”
He regretted what he called “a campaign of disinformation” against the military and reaffirmed that it was time to “understand the fresh threat facing our nation” and also “appreciate the sacrifice of our troops.” He condemned “doctored videos and pictures” against the military “wilfully circulated online” and described it as ‘unpatriotic,’ discouraging’ and ‘demoralizing’ to our troops.’
Mohammed called on the media to be professional in reporting the war against Boko Haram.
“They must seek official clarification before reporting casualty figures, and must realize that
the military will not release the identities of soldiers who have paid the ultimate price without first notifying their families. They must also not reveal national security as well as military plans, since such acts can put our troops in harm’s way.”
John Agim, the director of defence information who spoke on behalf of the military thanked the government for the campaign, noting that the military would like their efforts to be appreciated by the people. He urged the media to be professional and patriotic in their reporting.
Elsewhere, Hadi Sirika, minister of state for aviation, in a statement in Abuja, directed the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, and other agencies in the sector to incorporate policies and activities that show appreciation of both the serving and retired military personnel in Nigeria. He directed that priority be given to them during check-ins and flight boarding as obtained in most developed nations of the world.
“In addition, in all our parastatals, there should be banners to appreciate the military and we will also have those banners in our airports to be located in strategic places where everybody can see.
Certainly, the Nigerian military have done tremendously not for Nigeria but for the sub-region where we operate and for the world. In all the peace keeping mission that Nigerian military has gone to, they were well appreciated because they always come top and they performed excellently well,’’ said Sirika.