The Federal Government on Thursday cautioned Nigerians to stop vilifying, insulting and dampening the morale of the military, especially those fighting insurgency.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made the appeal in Abuja at the launch of the National Campaign in Support of the Military, urged Nigerians to shun any other acts capable of demoralizing our troops.
Mohammed noted that the men and women in uniform, who were risking all, including making the supreme sacrifice, to keep the country safe deserved the support and prayers of all Nigerians, not vilification.
He said the new campaign was a follow-up to the National Campaign Against Insecurity launched on February 16, 2016, with the punch line: ”If you see something, say something.”
Mohammed said the launch of the campaign to seek the support of the citizens for the troops, was imperative because they were no longer confronting the home grown Boko Haram, but a world testes terrorist network.
According to him, 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,” he said.
The minister said because some people did not understand the fresh threat facing the nation or appreciate the sacrifice of the troops, they had 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 willfully circulated online.
“Such unpatriotic acts are discouraging and demoralizing our troops, and must stop forthwith,” he said.
Mohammed acknowledged that those who engaged in the act of disinformation were and did not represent the majority of Nigerians who appreciate the patriotism and the sacrifice of the gallant troops.
He said the campaign would help to mobilise the majority 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 is not unusual, as a matter of fact it’ usually the practice, that when a country is faced with this kind of challenge, people will sink their differences and work together,” he said.
The minister specifically solicited the support of the media to play the lead role in the campaign to appreciating our troops.
“We 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,” he said.
Mohammed appreciated some television stations that already started airing their self-produced Television Video Commercials (TVCs) on the campaign.
He disclosed that the campaign would be multi-faceted, including the production and airing of special
jingles on radio and television, social media intervention and advocacy as well as materials for newspaper and social media.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports some of the TVCs for airing on national radio and television were shown to the newsmen.
The event was attended by Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, Director, Army Public Relations, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director Public Relations and Information, Nigeria Airforce.
Commodore Suleiman Dahum, Director Information, Nigerian Navy and Brig.-Gen. J.A. Agim, Director, Defence Information were also at the event. (NAN)