Reshaping the Narratives on Nigerian Military
By Mahmud Abdulsalam
Organisations or institutions saddled with the responsibility of safeguarding national security, worldwide, are always in the eyes of the storm. But the case of the Nigerian military, perhaps, is ‘something else’, though not by its own making.
More often, the Nigerian military and troops of the Armed Forces, are perceived in negative lights. Their actions, to a large extent, are under-appreciated, if not totally unappreciated.
Instead of effusive commendations for displaying uncommon gallantry, troops of the Nigerian military, deployed to quell ethno-religious violence, terrorism, and other crimes, often become targets of scathing criticisms, denigration, scorn and utter ridicule.
Among the things which have giving the Nigerian military a ‘bad name’, and further casted aspersion on its professionalism and corporate integrity is the allegation of carrying out pervasive extra-judicial killings of civilians (in some instances), by some persons and even organisations who obviously have an axe to grind with the military.
In some quarters, the entire officers and men of the Nigerian military are considered to be lacking ‘professionalism’, while discharging their statutory responsibilities.
Yet again, the lingering Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, insurgencies, have given some arm chair critics the effrontery to ‘recklessly’ conclude that the Nigerian military is incapable of ending terrorism.
Negative perceptions about the Nigerian military, if held by only the country’s citizens, alone, will not be something to worry over. But when it becomes the widespread belief of foreigners, or in the international community, then that is a red flag.
International human rights organisations such as the Amnesty International, AI, is one that quickly comes to mind, as far as ‘having misconceptions’ on the Nigerian military, its activities and troops, are concerned. The organisation’s public statements (most especially) in the past on the Nigerian military speaks volume.
Changing the narrative about Nigeria, and its military forces, is certainly a burden which Nigerian Ambassadors, High Commissioners and several other diplomatic officials to other countries of the world, alone, cannot execute.
However, the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, Lucky General, have called on Nigerian Defence Attachés/Advisers to join the exercise of rebranding Nigeria’s ‘smeared’ image, abroad.
He gave the charge while speaking at the closing ceremony of the Defence Advisers/Attaches Conference 2021, organised by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), recently.
As Nigeria’s envoys in other the nations, Irabor, who holds the rank of an Army General, stressef that the defence attaches and advisers must use their positions to educate and correct wrong narratives about the Nigerian military in their various countries of assignment.
The CDS said the Attachés should join the workforce in the foreign mission to promote the giant strides and offensive successes of the nation’s armed forces and security agencies in addressing the prevailing security challenges.
He noted that the first-hand information they had gathered should give them greater confidence in what the armed forces were doing to reverse the trend of insecurity in the country.
His words, “As you go back, I want to also urge you to join the entire workforce of your various missions to ensure that the narratives regarding issues of insecurity and other aspects of our national life are projected positively within the countries of assignment. I will like to encourage you to do this.”
Gen. Irabor, remarked that the idea of the refresher training was to hone the skills of the Defence Advisers towards “enhancing your performance in your assigned duties”.
He said, the conference with the theme, “Advancing Counterterrorism Efforts through Enhanced Inter-Agency Cooperation: A Whole of Government Approach”, had engendered healthy deliberations and produced useful resolutions.
“The Conference equally enabled the review of the operational activities of the Defence Sections as well as their administrative issues in the present year with a view to projecting for the Year 2022.
“Given the theme of the conference, as well as the way the entire conference was conducted, I am convinced that you are now better poised to contribute more effectively to the efficient performance of your Defence Sections.
“This is gleaning from the fact that the participants benefited from the wealth of experience of a vast array of practitioners in the intelligence field, policymakers, senior officers both serving and retired, including past Chiefs of Defence Intelligence and Directors.
“I have no doubt in my mind that this would serve you well in the days, months and years, ahead”.
While assuring the attachés that the Defence Headquarters in conjunction with Ministry of Defence, Services Headquarters, and DIA would work towards ameliorating the challenges confronting them to enable them to perform their assigned responsibilities/tasks with minimum hindrances, he urged them to ensure prudent and judicious utilisation of resources allocated to them towards the attainment of set goals/objectives.
Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI), Maj.-Gen. Samuel Adebayo in his address said the critical resolutions reached and captured in the conference communiqué would be forwarded to the appropriate quarters for swift implementation towards enhancing national security.
Adebayo said the outcome of the conference attested to the relevance of the Defence Advisers/Attachés system in advancing Nigeria’s national security and defence objectives.
He said the DIA would continue to leverage the Defence Attaché system in support of ongoing engagements of the nation’s armed forces, especially in the contemporary security context.
He said, “This is to ensure that no effort is spared in dealing with the threats to our corporate existence as a nation.
“It is, therefore, my belief that this year’s conference will go down as a milestone achievement in our efforts to refocus ourselves on the challenges of re-engineering the Defence Attaché system in furtherance of our national security interests through effective collaboration.
“Against this backdrop, I believe you all have learnt new and better ways to carry out your assigned tasks in enhancing our national security.
“Without sounding trite, it would be necessary for me to emphasise that you should endeavour to use your vantage positions to make valuable contributions to the Federal Government’s efforts to secure our dear nation.
“This would go a long way to justify the huge investment of the Federal Government in the operations of the Defence Sections.”
Mahmud Abdulsalam is Assistant Editor with PRNigeria
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