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Protest of soldiers’Families

THE ongoing war against Boko Haram insurgency recorded another mutinous oddity recently when wives and children of army troops barricaded Giwa Barracks, Maiduguri, thus preventing them from being moved to the war front.

They claimed that the soldiers were poorly equipped and were only being sent to die at the hands on the insurgents. It would be recalled that some months ago, a senior commander was shot at by unruly soldiers, who felt he gave orders capable of exposing soldiers to unnecessary harm.

Although the military authorities were able to manage these unfortunate and unusual events quite unbecoming of a disciplined army, it is yet another indication of the strange terrain that the insurgency has plunged the nation into. We are seriously worried that these troubling signs within our armed forces – the defenders of the citizenry and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – indicate that all may not be well within.

Much as the protests were understandable, they tended to portray our fighting troops in a poor light while lionising the insurgents and their backers. High morale is the fuel that drives soldiers to exploits in the battlefield. Certainly, the action taken by the family members of the troops just before they were taken to the theatre of action caused more harm than good not only to the troops as individuals but also to the nation at large. It was also capable of demoralising the citizenry and further hampering the war on terror.

It is important to give families of members of the armed forces and police the necessary orientation suitable for the line of profession chosen by their loved ones. These are heroes who have volunteered to lay down their lives in the defence of the fatherland, if need be. It is a noble calling unlike any other, and it has existed since the beginning of organised human societies.

However, we call on the federal government to look into the fears the protesters brought to the fore. They were not against the soldiers going to the war front. Rather, they were afraid that their safety looked compromised by perceived lack of appropriate tools to get the job done with minimum casualty. It was a legitimate concern, even though wrongly applied.

The war on terror has become a worldwide assignment. Over the past twenty years, certain elements of best practice have become obvious for countries saddled with terrorism. We should reorient our armed forces to the demands of the new warfare, backing them with modern equipment. We should also tap into expert technical advice from more experienced nations. It is fairly within reach.

Let us fight this war without fear or doubt. We shall win it.



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