Former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), has decried the sustained bloodletting by members of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, and therefore called for new approaches to address the problem confronting Nigeria in the area of security.
Babangida urged Nigerians to remain strong and united as the nation is working to end the incessant killings by members of the Islamic sect.
Making the call yesterday in a Sallah message personally signed by him and titled: ‘Let us be strong and united against insurgency,’ Babangida also advised the media to play down reports on dastardly activities of the sect, noting that by so doing, the outlawed group is getting undue prominence.
“At this stage of our national history especially with the insecurity we presently experience, it is appropriate for us to device new ways and means of confronting this hydra-headed insurgency, without making such initiatives public knowledge.
“Media intelligence is required in helping to assemble information and distilling such information in a manner that would benefit the fight against terrorism. Going by the news and information we get everyday, I feel very strongly that the media have a greater role to play in the management of information.
“The type of headlines and lead stories that are promoted in favour of the insurgents could only help to motivate members of Boko Haram rather than demotivate them. I expect, with a deep sense of patriotism, to see a greater deal of positive news promoted in support of military efforts in confronting this menace than a celebration of Boko Haram carnage, day in and day out,” he said.
The former military leader who expressed high optimism that with his military background, President Muhammadu Buhari has relevant experience needed to tackle the insurgents, called for a more discrete information management system and well coordinated counterterrorism approaches in the fight against the group.
“Strategic efforts and initiatives of the military targeted at curtailing the spread of the Boko Haram activities should remain most often top secret within military hierarchy and the presidency. Collaborative efforts should also follow similar pattern so that little or limited information is let loose for the consumption of members of the sect.
“Coordinated efforts by the security agencies should be strengthened and refocused to gain new dimensions towards combating the unwholesome activities of this sect, and when such dimensions are sought and cultivated, they should remain the exclusive preserve of top military brass.
“Information management is very key to confronting an unconventional warfare such as the one under reference, which is further complicated by the unfashionable method of suicide bombings. It is a strange dimension to this whole exercise of insurgency and has further compounded our earlier strategies in helping to nip this monster in the bud.
“The media, it must be emphasised, have a greater role to play in this information management system where a well defined synergy is encouraged between members of the media and the military hierarchy.
“On a good day, as is often said, the idea of taking some Boko Haram suspects and prisoners to Anambra State, should not be public knowledge, if we are truly serious about information management.
“Each time we celebrate the dastardly acts of Boko Haram on the front pages of our newspapers and electronic platforms, it is a score for Boko Haram. We must weigh such information against our collective national interest.
“Do we subscribe to Boko Haram or to the Nigerian nation? Since we are of good consciences and subscribe to the Nigerian nation, military efforts and achievements in the fight against insurgency should be given primacy than what a suicide bomber has just done.
“We must make it a duty to encourage and motivate our military personnel; those who have died in the course of this struggle and those who are still there on the battle field trying to make the Nigerian society safe for all of us. The families of those who have lost their gallant fighters and bread winners must be catered for beyond the present tokenism. This initiative will serve as incentive to others who are still in the trenches battling to keep us safe,” he added.
Concerning President Buhari’s ability to bring the situation under control, he said: “Buhari as a military officer understands the import of these altruistic suggestions and I trust that he will take steps to apply some of them that fit into the mainstream strategies already in place.
“I have implicit confidence in my mind that President Buhari, will put the final nail on the coffin of Boko Haram so that Nigeria can truly assume her greatness in the comity of nations.
“The approach has to be a holistic one, well coordinated with full onslaught launched by the day and night to rout these insurgents to surrender.”
Expressing condolences to families of those who lost their beloved ones during the carnage, the former leader commended government’s effort in helping to address the plights of the internally displaced persons across different locations in the country and assured the people that with help coming from the international community, Nigeria will be better placed to conquer the terrorists.
Babangida also expressed deep concern about the negative portrayal the activities of the sect is giving Islamic religion, insisting that Islam does not support the activities of the sect.
He therefore enjoined Islamic clerics to do more in their daily sermons to prevent new converts and recruits into this deadly group.
“For want of no discernible ideology, they have continued to portray Islam in very bad light, making members of other religions to perceive us with scorn. Islam, which I was born into, some 74 years ago, is a very peaceful religion that preaches brotherliness and togetherness.
“It is a religion that encourages love, affection and respect for our neighbours and mankind. It is one religion that has an abiding influence on its adherents to cooperate with one another and promote peace in their respective communities.
May God touch the hearts of these insurgents so that the untoward act of bloodletting will permanently cease. Happy eid-el-fitri to all,” he said.