Army fighting two battles – Don
Dr. Aminu Umar, has lamented that the Nigerian Army is being over stretched with simultaneous engagement in fight against insurgency and terrorism, misinformation and psychological warfare.
Umar, the Head of Department, Political Science, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), said this in a telephone interview.
He, however, noted that the army faced such situation because of “the nature of politics in Nigeria’’.
“But above all, this issue of propaganda that has dominated the media overtime is because of the nature of the Nigeria setting; most Nigerians believe in what they see without digesting,’’ he said.
Umar also said people with ill motive to damage and discredit the military, especially the army, were behind some of the misinformation emanating from the theatre of operation in the North East.
He said some others did that for political gains.
“The operation is not an easy one. It is not easy to fight a battle that you cannot easily identify the person (you are fighting) and it is not a clearly demarcated area.
“If you know Borno and Yobe states, if know what that environment is, you will know that the best soldier in the world will have difficulty in confronting an organised group like the Boko Haram.
“When they (army) go to communities, you cannot just assault people; you must study and understand that these are the real Boko Haram terrorists that you want to engage.
“Whoever throws away his gun and wears his regalia and comes out clean, you cannot detect whether he is a Boko Haram or not.
“That is why suicide bombings have happened in the theatre of operation or major city like Maiduguri,’’ he said.
On how to tackle misinformation and psychological warfare which was having demoralising effect on troops in the frontline, Umar challenged the army to boost its civil/military relations.
He added that the army must also map out its propaganda machine to make people believe in what it is doing, boost troops’ morale and weaken the terrorists and their sympathisers.
“It (army) also has to play a great role in the social media because reporting has now become a common thing in Nigeria.
“With just a very good handset, one can just type in what he wants and post and before you know it, the damage has been done.
“So, there is need for the army to see how they can boost their public relations to counter whatever (negative) that is coming out of the theatre of operation.’’
According to him, this will enable the people to appreciate what they have been doing.
Also, in a telephone interview, Dr. Khalifa Dikwa, a Sociopolitical analyst, urged the media not to “just report anything’’ in the ongoing operations in the North East but be patriotic.
Dikwa further urged the media not to elevate the terrorists psychologically by giving them prominence in reportage.
“The media should not just report anything, particularly in war. There are certain things they should avoid; it is part of patriotism to avoid some reports,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that while hosting Editors in December, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said the army was now engaged in psychological war with the terrorists.
Buratai said the media should know that giving the terrorists space was an encouragement to them.
He said: “We also noted that most of the security problems we are confronted with in this country are associated with misinformation.
“We are therefore appealing to you to be more understanding in the discharge of your professional duties.
“Your support is highly required because of the immense role you play in shaping national focus and thus, national security.
“It does not augur well for national security and troops’ morale when the military is portrayed as weak and corrupt, not trusted or respected as was the case with the recent unfortunate attacks on our locations and the lopsided reports on them.’’