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January 5, 2016

BOKO HARAM: Why we must support the military — Nwankpa

BOKO HARAM: Why we must support the military  — Nwankpa

•Nwankpa

Mr. Emeka Nwankpa, a former journalist and development activist is the Chief Media Strategist of the Concerned Professionals’ Congress (CPC), an advocacy team with an inclination to Nigeria’s total development.

In this question and answer session he examined wide-ranging issues around the anti-terror war, insisting that Nigerians should appreciate, support and sympathize with the Nigerian military for paying the supreme price to keep the nation safe and secure. EXCERPTS:

By Emmanuel Aziken

What is this CPC movement all about? What is your message?

Thank you. Please permit me to quickly share an exciting encounter I had not too long ago during a trip to the U.S. We were taking a connecting flight from Houston to New York. Shortly after take-off came an announcement by the crew that there were some men of the U.S Marine on the flight.

Almost spontaneously, the announcement drew a loud applause from passengers on board, some sitting, others standing chorusing ‘God bless America! God bless America!! It lasted for 10 seconds or so but, my God, it was so electrifying that I didn’t know when I jumped on my feet and started clapping too.

So what does that tell us if we may ask?

What it tells us is that every country has institutions and monuments that, by their sheer existence signal core values that instantly translate to national strength and pride. Our military is such.

Common identity

In CPC (mind you this is not the political party!) we are students of history, and professionals, united by a sense of concern, patriotism and common identity, for solutions to our issues.

Are you saying that Nigerians don’t honor our military enough?

Precisely yes. But we can do more. Five months ago, Boko Haram used to move around brazenly with 12 to 15 Hillux jeeps from one territory to another. On one occasion, they bombarded Bama, chased the emir away, hoisted their flag, declared their caliphate and started collecting levies, taxes and what have you, from the conquered territories.

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In Borno State alone, 21 out of the 27 LGAs were under Boko Haram. It was a horrible blight on our sovereignty as a nation.  But thank God that today all that nonsense has stopped not without a heavy price paid by our military. A new crop of officers with the passion, patriotism, commitment and zeal are now in charge.

I had expected that our citizens will roll out the drums to appreciate our soldiers. We thank the active Minister of Defence, Brig. Gen Muhammad Dan-Alli for his Christmas lunch and ‘welfare’ for our troops which he gave in the company of the Chief of Defence Staff, General Ayobami Olonisakin, a first-class professional officer who seldom talks, the cerebral Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai whose village has been attacked twice apart from two failed assassination attempts he has survived and the brilliant Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Sadiq.

Our troops have regained their rhythm because they have never had it so good since these guys came on board. This is leadership magic.

Do you mean we have never had it so good? But why are we still recording terrorist attacks in isolated places?

I’m glad you used the term isolated places. It is so because they (Boko Haram) can no longer hold on to specific places to launch their attacks.

They have been degraded, scattered and in disarray.

Are you guys not posturing as military apologists?

Military apologists? Please count us out. But if we have to be called apologists to appreciate the sacrifices of our troops, then so be it. For crying out loud, we love these soldiers for their bravery and courageous gallantry.  We have no apologies whatsoever.

Our military has done a good job to actualize Mr. President’s deadline. In fact, I learnt that the President actually gave the military high command a timeline and not a deadline because the military works by timelines, not deadlines. I do not know how timeline became deadline, maybe the press substituted it.

You may have also observed that Boko Haram has not released their hollow video and audio messages for some time now. That was only possible before. A thoroughly decimated, degraded and disoriented group that has been reduced to a fleeing ragtag force cannot think of any video or audio recording now.

So what do you think is the next move on the military agenda in view of the recent casualties that happened after Christmas?

This is exactly what we are saying. Mind you the degraded Boko Haram are working along the narrative that they have not lost in order to create more fear in the minds of the people including the media whose responsibility is to report what happens.

Commission of inquiry

You will observe that their strategy has confirmed what Lai Mohammed told newspaper editors on December 23 in Lagos. It is our duty now to ensure that we don’t suck into the terrorists’ game.

So you think that the December 12 bloody Army/Shi’ites clash was avoidable? On whose side was it avoidable, the Army or the sect or both?

It will be unfair and absolutely pre-emptive to begin to comment or apportion blames at this juncture until the judicial commission of inquiry of the state government comes up with its findings and recommendations.

The message is that we have come to the point where we need to realize that everybody has a stake. This nonchalance by the public must stop. Our psyche must change.

The motor parts dealer in Mushin and Makurdi, the teacher in Lapai and the trader in Lagos, the mechanic in Banki and the mason in Badagry, the pupil in Yobe and the pure water hawker in Yenagoa, it is everybody’s war, not for the military alone.