John Shiklam in Kaduna
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo wednesday charged military officers and men to be ready always to defend Nigeria with their lives.
Osinbajo, who served as the reviewing officer at the passing out parade of the Direct Short Service Course 28 of 2019 comprising 187 new officers, held at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base in Kaduna, described military career, which is to defend the territorial integrity of the country, as the most civic service.
According to him, beyond earning salary and getting a chance to wear a coveted uniform, the military should put their lives on the line for the safety and welfare of Nigerians.
He, however, told the new military officers that Nigeria was still grappling with insurgency in the North-east, and kidnapping and banditry in other parts of the country.
The vice president said given the security challenges confronting the nation, the new officers would soon be busy by fulfilling their responsibilities to the military and the country.
He said: “As you already know, this profession you have chosen requires absolute discipline, loyalty and hard work. It is much more than just securing a job, or earning a salary; and more than just getting the chance to wear a coveted uniform or wield coveted weapons. This is the ultimate form of civic service to defend the territorial integrity of your country and to put your life on the line for the safety and welfare of millions of your countrymen and women. There is no nobler occupation than this one you have chosen.
“You are passing out at a time when our nation is grappling with an insurgency in the North-east, and the challenges of kidnapping and banditry in other parts of the country. You will, therefore, have come to terms with the fact that the days and weeks and months ahead of you will be extremely busy, as you fulfil your responsibilities to the military and the nation.
“While the armed forces have effectively contained the territorial ambitions of the Boko Haram terrorists by substantially degrading their capacity to attack and wreak havoc, they remain intent on shedding blood and sowing fear. There is also the threat of the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the Lake Chad Islands and part of Southern Borno.
“Also, more often these days, these insurgents are focusing on soft targets, opportunistic attacks on isolated military units, as well as an increasingly sophisticated propaganda aimed at making them out to be more organised and lethal than they really are.
“This ever-increasing reliance on propaganda is a reminder that this is not only a ‘battleground’ war; it is just as much an information-and-narrative war. Winning hearts and minds has always been important in military warfare; it is even more so in a century defined by information and communication technologies.
“As 21st-century military officers, how you project your strength and confidence to your enemies and the world, especially using social and digital media tools, is as important as the sophistication of the conventional arms and ammunition that you wield.
“But to do so effectively also means that you must take the time and trouble to fully understand the nature of the threats that confront us, the narratives and philosophies that underlie those threats,” the vice president stated.
Osinbajo told the officers that President Muhammadu Buhari, in collaboration with governors, has been reviewing the security architecture of the country, which involved not just the armed forces but also the police, who have recently announced their community policing strategy.
He said: “This initiative involves the recruitment and training of policemen in each local government and ensuring that such new policemen remain in their local governments working with local and traditional authorities to maintain peace and security.
“As the President has said, security is a 24-hour occupation involving continuous investments in strategy and innovation. We will continue to take all necessary measures to tackle all forms of criminality across the country and to safeguard lives and property of all Nigerians.
“The Nigerian Air Force will, as part of the Armed Forces, continued to be at the forefront of our national security interventions. I note in particular the extremely successful digitally accurate bombings of terrorist hideouts in April that led to the destruction of Boko Haram mechanic workshop in Borno
“In May, there were airstrikes on Tumbun Hamma on the fringes of Lake Chad, inflicting heavy casualties on ISWAP forces under Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole; while in June, airstrikes on Sambisa Forest further eliminated insurgents
“It is particularly commendable that you are adopting measures to ensure that the resources available to you are used judiciously; in a manner that delivers optimal results and maximum value for money.
“This nation is great and can only become greater. We are Africa’s largest economy by GDP – states of Nigeria have larger economies than many African states. We have become the last frontier for major economic growth.
“We are the world’s largest growers of cassava and yams, we are top five in the world in sorghum, millet; we are approaching self-sufficiency in paddy rice production. Our potential in technology and entertainment has been attracting huge attention.
“First is the market, at 174 million GSM phones, we are top 10 telephone users in the world, and we have the highest percentage of people who use internet on their phones in the world. We are also number two in mobile internet banking in the world; 17 million Nigerians are on Facebook.
“Microsoft has announced that it will establish a 100 million dollar African Develop Centre in Nigeria. We are already building our own drones. But not only are we building drones, we are also making spare parts for our aircraft. We are also manufacturing armoured personnel carriers and all sorts of different military platforms.
“All of these are things that Nigerians are doing in this country. Just last week, we saw, at the Army Day, sophisticated mine sweepers that are manufactured in this country. In a few short years, this country will be, by far, the greatest military force in Africa and certainly the most developed economy in Africa.
“All of these have been built on the sacrifices of many in blood and sweat, especially men and women of the armed forces. What will undermine our efforts now and in the future is disunity. All of those who are preaching narratives of divisions along ethnic and religious lines. We must resist all who try to destroy our present gains and in particular our future.
“The future of our country is bright; all we need to do is to keep focus not to allow any to preach any division amongst us. If we remain stable and united, everything that we desire for our great country will be ours.”