VICE President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, recently disclosed the intention of the Federal Government to set up a communication centre to provide adequate information to counter the violent propaganda of Boko Haram Islamist insurgents.
The nation’s second citizen made the disclosure when a team of American government officials led by the United States Special Envoy on Counter-Terrorism Communication, Mr Rashad Hassan, visited his office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to the Vice President, when the outfit is set up it will provide a platform for government information managers, clerics, civil society organisations and youth groups to interact in a positive manner to exchange information and ideas that will counter the propaganda being churned out by extremists.
There is no doubt that Boko Haram is able to lure thousands of gullible youths into its ranks through the use of age-old tools of war: brainwashing and propaganda. It only stands to reason that the nation should devise adequate responses to their odious mind games. Every war involves both the use of weapons to overwhelm the enemy and the deployment of packaged information to win over the minds of the populace to support the war effort.
It is one of the oddities of the war against Boko Haram that Nigeria has waited this long before realizing the need to launch a massive propaganda campaign against the evil ideology of Boko Haram and the saboteurs providing them with support and sponsorship both within the civil populace and the security forces. This is yet another indication that the war against terror which Nigeria took up with massive deployment of soldiers from 2013 was not approached with full gusto as was the Nigerian civil war. Boko Haram, on the other hand, went into their quixotic venture without leaving any stone unturned.
Full propaganda engagement will mobilize Nigerians behind the efforts of the Federal Government to overcome the insurgents. It will also expose the evil of Boko Haram ideology and whip up total citizen commitment towards bringing it to an early end and preventing a future resurgence.
But propaganda alone cannot keep insurgency and extremism at bay. The increasing loss of confidence of sections of the Nigerian population on the state and the system’s ability to look after their welfare, provide them with adequate security, guarantee their freedom as distinct groups and assure them justice and equity must be looked into. These are the roots of not just Boko Haram insurgency but also other separatist agitations now rearing their heads, especially in the South.
No amount of counter-propaganda will instill abiding faith of Nigerians in their country until the system is reformed to make Nigeria a happier place for ALL its citizens.