Keeping Troops’ Morale Alive Amid Rising Insecurity
By Abdulsalam Mahmud
The Nigerian military may be giving its all to ensure peace and guarantee national security. But it is having issues with its public image.
Though the misconduct of some military personnel in recent times is one of the factors influencing wrong public perception about the military.
There are persons who have, over the years, appear adamant in not seeing anything amazing about troops and officers of the country’s military, and their extraordinary combat exploits.
This writer, in an earlier piece, averred that, “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”.
Worried by the unfortunate scenario, a Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, at a point, challenged the military to urgently correct the negative impression about her, and its operations.
But with solutions for the negative perception apparently being difficult to find, Gen. Leo Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, has reiterated the need for citizens to avoid seeing the military as the enemy of the state, saying such demoralises the armed forces, impeding the fight against insecurity.
General Irabor stated that the armed forces and other security agencies, such as the police, were a tool of the state for governance, hence the need for citizens’ support.
The CDS, who spoke at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS, Kuru, Plateau State while delivering a paper, titled “Strengthening Local Governance in Nigeria: The Role of the Armed Forces, said: “If we have a wrong perception of the armed forces and others, it is like working against oneself, it is time to rewrite the story and put it in proper perspective.
“We should look at the military as the armed forces that meet the yearning and aspiration of Nigeria as stipulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It is not for anyone to see them as men and women that belong to occupational forces, no it is men and women working for the good of the nation itself. The same applies to other government sub-agencies.
“So, the wrong impression and perception must change, that is why we need to recommend a change in perception.
“Things must change and we need to escalate our relationship with the public to fight insecurity to a standstill.”
He stated further that the military would build public confidence against the negative perception of the public, stating that “I made clear the role of the armed forces in strengthening governance, this is what we have been doing over the years by strengthening the security ambience…”
While debunking the insinuation that terrorists had taken over some space in the country, the CDS said: “There is no space in which the terrorists have taken over, of course there are some illegalities that some criminals are perpetrating that doesn’t mean they have taken over, rather, we have punctured them. In the past two, three weeks, there have been reverses and we will keep strengthening it.”
However, the Director-General of NIPSS, Professor Ayo Omotayo, said security was the beginning of everything in the country.
He added, “The participants have gone through many engagements and interactions, there is nothing anyone can do without having a good security environment.”
While the Nigerian military cannot say that it has met all public expectations, it has over the years remained a professional institution that has been in the forefront of protecting the country’s territorial integrity.
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Report By: PRNigeria.com