The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has announced that his ministry will soon launch a massive national campaign in support of the military, especially in their fight against insurgency and insecurity
The military, which has been fighting an intractable war for years has been the butt of criticism and jokes, sometimes from within its rank and file; but especially by politicians and their hacks when elections draw near.
Prior to the 2015 elections, the military and administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan got lacerating criticisms when it was suffering any kind of downturn in fortunes in the war against Boko Haram; but only a near whisper of support when the Army had the upper hand.
Again, with elections drawing near, criticism of the present administration in its war against terrorists is a daily cacophony on social media and other platforms, giving an impression that the country has been overrun by a ragtag army of insurgents.
Soberly, Tuesday, Mohammed told journalists “We are planning to launch a national campaign to rally support for the military. We believe the men and women who are risking all to keep us safe deserve the support and prayers of all Nigerians, not vilification, insults and other acts that are capable of dampening their morale,,
He said the campaign, which will be similar to the previous ones launched by the ministry on burning issues such as fake news and hate speech, insurgency and the fight against corruption, will mobilise Nigerians irrespective of their political leanings to show support for the military.
“I think it is high time that everybody, irrespective of political affiliation, joined in supporting the war (against insurgency). It’s not unusual, as a matter of fact it’s usually the practice, that when a country is faced with this kind of challenge, people will sink their differences and work together. So, very soon, you will expect to hear from us on this campaign to support the military in the fight against not just insurgency but in the fight against insecurity,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He said the national campaign, which will be multi-faceted, will include the production and airing of special jingles on radio and television, social media intervention and advocacy.
The Minister decried how some Nigerians, particularly opposition politicians, have made it their past-time to wage a campaign of disinformation against the military on the social media, saying such unpatriotic acts are discouraging and demoralizing the men and women in uniform.
“I think the biggest opposition probably today that the military has is probably not Boko Haram, it’s probably the Social Media because it’s so uncontrolled. Today, video clips are doctored and clips of happenings in other lands are now reported and sent out as if they are happening in Nigeria. Unfortunately, there is no one to hold responsible. This is very discouraging and it demoralizes the military.
“That brings me to the bigger issue of overall support for our military. Recent developments are disturbing. The activities of a section of the media and some opposition political parties are demoralizing the military and strengthening the insurgents. Without seeking or waiting for official clarification, outrageous casualty figures are prominently reported. Without consideration for national security, military plans are recklessly revealed. Not even in the United States, the bastion of democracy, does this happen,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said even though the government would neither censor nor gag the media, journalists must strike a balance between the constitutionally-guaranteed freedom to receive and impart information and national security.