Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
The federal government and the Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) Thursday appealed to Nigerians to show understanding and rally round the military in their current war against terrorists, saying they are fighting “war-tested, well-trained and highly sophisticated terrorists,” who have fought in Liberia and other war-torn countries.
They also revealed that a faction of Boko Haram has aligned with the global terror group, ISIS, to form the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP), saying ISIS now has a strong foothold in West Africa – with Nigeria in the forefront of the battle against them.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Defence Headquarters’ Director of Information, Brig. Gen. JA Agim, made the appeal in Abuja while launching the national campaign in support of the Nigerian Army.
The Defence spokesman particularly appealed to the Nigerian media to work closely with the Nigerian Army in the war against terrorists, advising against media reports that tend to support and promote the deadly activities of the terrorists and demoralise the nation’s soldiers whom he said “stay awake day and night to protect and defend” the nation’s territory.
Earlier while speaking at the event attended by directors of information of Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Army, the minister said the launch of the campaign became necessary because the men and women in uniform who are risking all, including making the supreme sacrifice, to keep the nation safe “deserve the support and prayers of all Nigerians, not vilification, insults and other acts” that are capable of dampening their morale.
“Recall that on January 8, 2019, we announced that we would soon launch a campaign to seek the support of the citizens for our troops, especially in the fight against insurgency. Today marks the fulfillment of that promise as we are here to formally launch the national campaign in support of the military.
“Why are we launching this national campaign in support of the military? Because 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 federal government’s spokesman explained.
Explaining further, why the launch of the campaign now, the minister added that the nation’s gallant men and women in uniform clear the remnants of the home-grown insurgency called Boko Haram, and are confronting a fresh crisis, a global insurgency.
Mohammed said those who do not understand the fresh threat facing the nation, nor appreciate the sacrifice of the troops, have now made it their past-time to wage a campaign of disinformation against the military, especially in the social media, adding that doctored videos and pictures purporting to show massive military casualties are wilfully circulated online.
He explained that such “unpatriotic’’ acts are discouraging and demoralising the nation’s troops, and should stop forthwith.
He added, “Let me state that those who engage in this act of disinformation are few, and do not represent the majority of Nigerians who appreciate the patriotism and the sacrifice of our gallant troops.
“That’s why we are launching this campaign, to mobilise 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.’’
Mohammed said the campaign will be multi-faceted, which will include the production and airing of special jingles on radio and television, social media intervention and advocacy, revealing that the jingles are ready, and will be airing on radio and television starting this week.
Stating that the materials for newspaper and social media are also ready, the Minister and the Defence’s spokesman enlisted the support of the media for this campaign, advising the media to play the lead role in the campaign.
“We are happy to note that some television stations have already started airing their self-produced TVCs in support of the military. We thank them for this and we urge others to join them.
‘’We also want to appeal to the media to show utmost professionalism in reporting the insurgency. They must seek official clarification before reporting casualty figures, and must realise that the military will not release the identities of soldiers who have paid the ultimate price without first notifying their families,” the minister stated.
He also urged the media to be cautioned against revealing the national security as well as military plans, saying such acts can put the nation’s troops in harm’s way.