Boko Haram: Zulum Urges Nigerian Army to Change War Narratives

Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara

Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum yesterday urged the military to change the war narratives by attacking the terrorists first instead of defending itself against attacks.

The governor who was a special guest of honour at the 2020 joint Chief of Army Staff Conference held in Maiduguri, Borno State, said the Nigeria Army being the flagship of the nation’s military, has all it takes to win the war, only if it can review its fighting strategy.

While commending the military for what he said was the recent improvement in troops’ fighting spirit against the insurgents, the governor said the war could be ended in no time if the military especially the Nigeria Army can “change the war narratives.”

He said it is appropriate to commend the army when it has done well “and we must also have the courage to tell each other the common truth and be critical of the troops’ operations when things go wrong.”

He said his administration would not relent in giving the soldiers all the needed support to win the war.

“As part of the ten-point agenda of this administration …, the Borno State government shall sustain its role as a stakeholder in supporting the activities of the Nigerian army, through the provision of all the needed support and morale-boosting mechanism to all the security agencies to end the fight against Boko Haram crisis.”

“In this direction, I wish to ask the Nigeria army to change the war narratives all together in order to end the crisis.

“Attack, they say, is the best form of defence. The Nigerian Army must have to take the war to all the hideouts of the Boko Haram.

“You should not wait and give the terrorists an opportunity for the first attack. You should as a matter of policy, embark on critical clearance operation after successful execution of attacks.”

He added that the army is finding it difficult to get the buy-in of the local populace, as partners in the counterinsurgency, because it has failed in the area of confidence-building.

“The Nigerian Army must also embark on confidence-building and confidence sharing mechanism with the communities and civil authorities they found themselves, so as to expose the terrorists, their collaborates and sponsors,” he said.

Governor Zulum also called on the chief of army staff to look at the issue of competence while deploying officers to command strategic military units, an area he said was not well explored.

He said the army authority should not emphasise loyalty of soldiers as criteria for postings to military commands.

“Sir, in appraising the performance of the Nigerian Army, there is a need to look at the critical issues of competence, dedication and doggedness of officers and men of the Nigerian armed forces.

“Let me re-emphasise the need for having competent and dedicated officers to head the military commands; because from my little observation, it is noted that all the locations headed by competent and dedicated officers hardly fall into the hands of the insurgents. Therefore we have to weigh the importance of loyalty and competence, which is very important.”

The governor also mourned the death of Colonel Dahiru Bako, who died two weeks ago in an ambush by Boko Haram in Borno State.

He said the death of such gallant officers and soldiers was “a setback” in the fight against the insurgency.

Earlier, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, commended Nigerian troops for their sacrifices in the service of the nation.

The army chief had also commended the president and commander in chief, Muhammadu Buhari, for the support being given to the army.

He equally thanked the government of Borno State for partnering with the army in most of its operations.

He said though the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the Nigerian army’s focus of events for 2020, the army has been able to secure a new allowance.

He said the army has been able to procure and deploy PPEs to various formations to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the army has taken delivery of newly procured war equipment which officers and soldiers are being trained on how to handle.

He said the army had also been able to locally fabricate some of the military equipment that has been deployed in the front lines, even as he called on all commands to ensure judicious use of all the equipment in a manner that justifies the investment of the federal government.