The unusually daring moves by territory-seeking fighters, aka Boko Haram, in the recent times has had month doubts, placed the Nigerian military – the commanders and the soldiers – in the eye of the storm. The group’s media blitz as accentuated by interviews given western media to that effect by some desperate politicians from the North-eastern part of the country did make the already injurious position of our commanders to assume a cancerous state.
It was visible from all angles that our military had almost lost all the accolades it had earned for itself in the course of its so many forays in international peace-keeping and peace-enforcing operations in the recent times due largely to the propaganda mileage Boko Haram and their handlers had gained in the media over our troops. Worsened by its analogue tradition of not wanting to be proactively disposed to information dissemination, the military has been worse for it. This rather precarious strategic situation was further compounded by the penchant of our unstable neighbours, especially Cameroun, to be working round the clock by their actions and inactions to bolster the morale of the region’s otherwise common enemy, Boko Haram, in their fight to claim territories in Nigeria. Cameroun has been the most unsupportive of Nigeria’s quest to rout the insurgents from the North-east. Their position is quite understandable. It is absolutely not in her strategic interest for the insurgents to be defeated in Nigeria. The implication of that is that the defeated monster will naturally seek refuge in parts of the country, Cameroun. To that extent, the country might be strategically right to be working with the fighters to ensure that they remained solidly on the ground in Nigeria.
But I am happy to announce through this medium as a Nigerian who believes in the capability of our military that the tide is being turned by our gallantly troops. These young men at the front line, in the face of provocations and verbal assaults on their integrity from all, including those that have never lifted an AK-47 in their lives, have remained focused and patriotic in the pursuit of their strategic goal. This uncommon courage and show of professionalism has been paying off of late as exemplified by the string of gains they have made in the last 10 days of battle with the insurgents.
Within the period under review, our troops in company with their civilian aid-givers have mercilessly depleted the Boko Haram fighters with the killing of 735 of the insurgents in Borno and Adamawa States.
In the battle of Konduga alone, the insurgents have so far lost over 610 of their fighters within three operation days. They also lost one of their top commanders who was captured alive after sustaining injuries from the sustained pounding his command had received from the troops. It may also interest you to know that outside the Konduga axis, the fighters are equally at the losing end as a number of them have been killed in Michika, Bazza, Benishek, among other flashpoints.
Besides the growing human losses, the fighters have equally dispensed with valuable weapons and equipment as they were forced to submit to superior fire power of our troops. During the second round of fighting at Konduga, the insurgents lost 13 AK-47 rifles, five Rocket Propelled Gun (RPGs) tubes, two General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs), one Anti-Aircraft Gun and two Ford Ranger pick-up vehicles. In all, Nigerian Army troops did not suffer any casualty. “Morale of our troops remains very high,” according to the authorities.
Similarly, during the first operation at Konduga, the insurgents also lost three Hilux and one Buffalo vehicles with mounted Anti-aircraft guns, three General Purpose Machine guns, over 30 AK-47 rifles and two global positioning systems to the military. Authoritative military sources had disclosed that beyond the staggering losses in equipment, the once boastful fighters and their loquacious media-visible sympathisers have not yet been able to explain why about 200 strong militants had to escape in the only truck that maneuvered from the scene of fighting given their vaunted claim of superiority.
For those who still think the figures are mere propaganda, I say no. But if you are still wandering why this has been made possible given the fact that new equipment have not yet been added to the troops’ fighting arsenal, I will equally say that the difference is the growing support the populace is giving to the military. We need as a matter of necessity to boost the morale of our soldiers; because to whom much is given, in terms of moral support, accolades, much is equally expected, i.e result.
An excited Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Brig-Gen. Olajide Laleye, had said: “Troops moral and combat efficiency remain high. Further details about the engagement and supporting photographs are being awaited.
“It must be noted that the renewed morale, fighting spirit and combat efficiency of troops have been boosted by new strategies devised by the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the support of well meaning members of the public.
“Therefore, the Nigerian Army implores the public to continue to support the military and other security agencies engaged in the on-going operation to rid Nigeria of blood-letting insurgents and ruthless religious extremists.”
The leading cheer givers and moral boosters in the game are members of the Maiduguri-based Civilian JTF. They are in their thousands and they are not relenting in their support for the military to wipe off insurgency in their state. A member of the supporters’ flock had joyfully broken the news of the gains of the military to journalists even before an official confirmation came from the Nigerian Army headquarters.
He had told newsmen that the insurgents were repelled from both Ngamdu, about 100 kilometres from Maiduguri on the Maiduguri-Damaturu road and Konduga, about 40 kilometres on the Maiduguri-Bama road.
He said the soldiers of the 7 Div of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri stationed in the two towns, Konduga and Ngamdu, engaged the insurgents in heavy confrontation at the break of the day and killed about 300 in Konduga where they had equally repelled them last week on which occasion over 100 insurgents were killed.
He added that at Ngamdu, 150 insurgents were killed by the troops in the exchange of gunfire.
The source further said: “As I am talking to you the corpses of the insurgents are lying the streets in the two towns.”
He further revealed that the military recorded the feat with the assistance of the local vigilante.
Another person, Bashir Abbas, a member of the youth vigilante group, said the attempts of the Boko Haram to invade Maiduguri was repelled by the military at different parts of the state with the insurgents suffering heavy casualties.
He said the sect’s members were repelled at Ajiri (60 kilometres from Maiduguri), Mafa (50 kilometres away from Maiduguri), Konduga (40 kilometres away from the Borno State capital.
They were equally repelled, according to him, on the Maiduguri-Damaturu road at Ngamdu about 100 kilometres away from Maiduguri and 20 kilometres from Damaturu, the Yobe state capital.
Abbas, who stated that the confrontation between the military and the insurgents occurred between 2-5pm at Ajiri, 2-4.30pm at Mafa and 4.30-9pm at Konduga left hundreds of the sect’s members dead, revealed that the military equally made mileage in seized ammunitions.
He said the military retrieved five buffalo vehicle mounted with anti-aircraft guns and a Shelcar sophisticated gun. Abbas said that with the latest successes of the military, the people of Maiduguri can have a deep sleep.
I am with them in this spirit, even as a journalist. I am committed to any step that will help in de-escalating the crisis from my little journalism angle by adhering strictly to UNESCO’s proposed conflict-sensitive journalism module for all reporters.
In a book: “Conflict-sensitive reporting: State of the Art; a Course for Journalists and Journalism Educators”, by Ross Howard, the world body through the book espouses various actions needed to be taken by journalists reporting conflicts to achieve a better understanding of conflict and conflict resolution and the news media’s role.
The authors said: “The Curriculum comes at a time when the news media, with its new technologies and wider reach, is increasingly a target for misinformation, manipulation or suppression by interests seeking to profit from conflict. The central concept of Conflict-Sensitive Reporting is that violent conflict attracts intense news media attention that requires greater analytical depth and skills to report on it without contributing to further violence or overlooking peace building opportunities.”
“The intention is to make reporting on conflict more insightful, more comprehensive and thus more influential, since being comprehensive includes making clearer the possibilities of resolving conflict rather than perpetuating it. Conflict-sensitive reporting contributes to reconciliation and peace-building.” May I recommend that we make this our mantra at this stage of our national development? Because at the end of the day, Nigeria remains the hub that will drive journalism, journalists and the media to the desired cruising altitude.