By Taye Obateru
Jos â€” General Officer Commanding, GOC, 3 Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, Major-General Saleh Maina, has critically examined the involvement of the military in internal conflict management across the country, concluding that they have largely succeeded in the task.
Delivering a paper on â€œThe Image of the Military in Conflict Management in Nigeriaâ€ as guest lecturer to the Faculty of Law, University of Jos, he said the fact that â€œNigeria is still a single entity where citizens enjoy relative security as they go about their day-to-day activities is an indication of effective military performance in handling conflicts in the most populous country in Africa.â€
Admitting that the role of the military was sometimes misunderstood or misrepresented which result in negative image, Maina said they had nonetheless largely succeeded in containing such internal crises.
He said everything was being done to ensure that such exercises do not negatively affect the image of the military as, according to him, â€œin the process of aiding civil authority, they are sometimes interpreted differently; some observers curiously take antiseptic view of events by disregarding facts.â€
He said the military had no option but be involved in such operations when situations get out of hand and the police become incapable of containing some of the problems.
According to Maina, â€œthis threat to the unity of our beloved country usually necessitated the action of security agents. In some cases, the scale of violence overwhelms the regular police and the military is usually drafted to restore law and order.
â€œPresently, thousands of officers and men of the military are on the streets in different parts of the country assisting civil authority to maintain law and order. Discharging this responsibility, however, the military is facing many challenges relating to operational environment, tactics and logistics,â€ he noted.
He lamented that the Nigeria military which is hailed in peace keeping operations outside the country are not well appreciated in their conflict management roles internally resulting in negative image based on wrong perceptions.
According to the GOC, â€œimage is a function of perception; it is subjective and could be true or untrue. The belief system is a sum total of opinion, incidence, stories and reports of occurrence some of which may portray half truths.
â€œThere is no doubt that the military have saved many lives and properties from destruction before and during crises in the country. It is also evident that the military had prevented a number of conflicts from escalating beyond proportion.â€