The federal government has said the nation’s military currently engages fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as well as those of Islamic State’s West African Province.
Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said this Thursday at the launch of the national campaign in support of the military’s fight against insurgency in the North-east.
The minister said: “Recall that on January 8th, 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.
“It is a follow-up to the hugely-successful national campaign against insecurity which we launched on Feb. 16th, 2016, with the punch line: ‘If you see something, say something.’
“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.
“And why are we launching the campaign now? Because, 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.
“Those who do not understand the fresh threat facing our nation, nor appreciate the sacrifice of our troops, have now made it their past-time to wage a campaign of disinformation against the military, especially in the social media.
“Doctored videos and pictures purporting to show massive military casualties are wilfully circulated online. Such unpatriotic acts are discouraging and demoralising our troops and must stop forthwith.
“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.
“The national campaign in support of the military will be multi-faceted. It will include the production and airing of special jingles on radio and television, social media intervention and advocacy. In fact, the jingles are ready, and will be airing on radio and television starting this week. Also, the materials for newspaper and social media are also ready.
“We also want to enlist the support of the media for this campaign. The media should indeed 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. They must also not reveal national security as well as military plans, since such acts can put our troops in harm’s way.”
Acting Director Information Defence Headquarters Brigadier-General John Agim also corroborated the federal government’s position.
He said the current crop of insurgents were sophisticated and war-tested, and therefore called on the media to be conscious of the information they dished out to the public on the military’s activities.
Agim said: “Right now, we are not fighting a ragtag Boko Haram, we are fighting war-tested men that had fought in ISIS, that had fought in Libya. We need to support the military by telling them we are in support of what you are doing to keep the country one.”
Highpoint of the event was the public presentation of the clips after which journalists made some inputs on how to further improve the quality of the jingles and other material.
At the event were spokespersons of the army, navy and air force; Sani Usman, Ibikunle Daramola and Suleman Dahun respectively.