The war theater is where all the gory details are. The avalanche of ammunition expelled all over, guns blazing, pellets dropping, and blood let to run like rain. That is where you see all the fighter Jets in action. That is where the action is for all the vehicles of war and fight against terror. This is the theater of the EC 135 and the Bell 412 helicopters. The home to the backdoor gunners of the NAF. This is where you find the Nigerian army’s RM 70 and BM 21 GRAD rocket artillery in action. This is where you find the Proforce ARA MRAPS and APCs spitting fire in the frontlines. That is where our soldier’s ultimate sacrifice is. Abandoning their own families and personal lives, putting their lives on the line, just so we can have peace. The peace we all so take for granted. The Nigerian army and the Nigerian Airforce have never been this equipped. Not in a very long time. 24 M346 FA jets have just been ordered. The JF 17 thunder fighter jet was just taken delivery of by the NAF. There is no relenting in the efforts of our fighting forces and brave soldiers executing this war. A lot is being achieved and a lot of grounds are being gained.
Another theater that goes pari passu, with the war theater is the propaganda theater. That is the voice and sound of the war. That is the narrative of the war. A proverb has it said, ‘that were the lion as good a story teller as the hunter, the lion would have been the hero of hunting.’ Bandits and terrorists have taken the airwaves of all communication about the war and the happenings of the war. The are at the front page and at the back page. They are at centre spread too. They are at breaking news, and on every news-bar at the bottom of all our TV channels. The news is all about their exploits and their daring attacks (even though coy and phoney). We have an army of media that are rearing to go always, with the news of bandits and terrorists. Our social media space is filled with online bandits and online terrorists. All they do is circulate and propagate, and then recycle gists and news of terrorists and bandits. They are more active than the media handles of security agencies and machineries of government in charge of spreading government news and propaganda.
For example; because the terrorists were first to release the gist about the crashed fighter jet in the outskirts of Maiduguri some months back, they were able to take control of the narrative; that they had downed the plane. Which wasn’t true, but was tough to counter and redirect as to what really happened. Similarly, another startling manoeuvre happened with channels tv’s handling of the attack on a police station in Orlu, Imo state, just 2 days ago. They had first tweeted that several IPOB fighters had been killed as they attempted to attack another police station in Imo. Suddenly, they deleted the tweet and changed the narrative to 9 gunmen killed and 4 policemen injured in Imo attack. The media, both mainstream and social media seem to be on the side of the terrorists and bandits, while snuffing out the successes of the military and other security agencies. An IPOB spokesperson came on air on channels TV and what action was taken? A so called sanction on channels which continued with its activities as if nothing happened!
As much as government is spending money on armament and equipping the military and other security agencies, it must look into its spending in the propaganda theater. It must be the hunter in these story tellings, and make a lion of these terrorists. Julian Assange of wikileaks was just quoted as saying that all wars that have taken place in the last 50 years have been because of media lies. In essence, media is number one when it comes to wars and its events. Are we so quickly forgetting how CNN turned the heat on us on a massacre that never happened? See how powerful the media can be? Government must launch an effort, just as the war on terror effort, code-named even; so as to snatch control of the narrative of what is truly happening. The escapades of IPOB in killing and burning down police stations and police personnel was well documented but now that the police are getting the upper hand, the news is just flared away!
Aside making the news handles, news outlets and other channels of government communications more robust and active; there must be an aggressive clampdown. Persons cannot just come on air to spread terrorist propaganda. There must be consequences for the media and the guests as well. There are notorious online handles that are always in on spreading propaganda about terrorists and bandits. They must be clamped down too. When you allow overwhelming and fake news to take control of the media waves, then you are practically losing the war. You cannot lose a war on media when you have all the channels and waves under your control. Regulatory bodies must be seen to do their work appropriately. It is a mess out there and everyone seems to say as he pleases with no repercussions. Lies and false propaganda against government must be made to feel like breaking the lord’s commandment. Gone are the days when newspaper houses and TV stations were shut down right? If your media house is supporting terrorists, you must face the wrath of the law. Period.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.