By Ibrahim Abubakar
For so long, the Nigerian military has consistently raised alarm over the untoward role foreign media and some non-governmental Organisations, NGOs play, in collaboration with their local partners in the war against insurgency in the Northeast. The military has repeatedly spoken against the uncomplimentary activities of these foreign organisations which tend to undermine the efforts of the Nigerian military in its attempt to permanently put paid to the menace of terror and sundry terrorist uprisings in the country which have almost held hostage three states: Adamawa, Borno and Yobe since 2009. Some of the methods they use include frivolous, unsubstantiated allegations of humanitarian violations by the military and supply of food and other relief materials to the Boko Haram Islamist sects. This is outright blackmail and blatant intimidation just to undermine the huge gains so far recorded by our indomitable troops.
Consequently, the military has recently shut down regional offices of two prominent NGOs: Action Against Hunger and Mercy Corps. In December last year, following alleged espionage activities against Nigeria, the Nigerian military temporarily banned UNICEF operations in the Northeast. Also, Amnesty International has consistently been at daggers drawn with the military over alleged human rights abuses. This has compelled some concerned Nigerians to stage peaceful protests calling for the exit of AI from our shores. Obviously, owing to some hidden agenda, these foreign media and NGOs are deliberately overlooking the fact that the war against insurgency and Islamic State of West Africa Province is not a conventional war with defined territories and boundaries in which most of the insurgents are identifiable but rather a guerilla warfare where the terrorist do not wear uniform. Some of the insurgents go as far as donning even fake Nigerian military uniform in order to create confusion.
It is on record that some of these foreign organisations pamper the insurgents and terrorists with food, drinks and even drugs whereas the military sees hunger or starvation as a weapon of war. That is the kernel of the disagreement. An argument in certain quarters that the activities of the NGOs in the region help to highlight not only the scale of impact of the insurgency but also the humanitarian shortcomings of the Nigerian government is not only warped and mischievous. It is also an addendum of falsehood and propaganda which serves to massage the nebulous ego of the insurgents and terrorists. It is therefore preposterous for the foreign NGOs to inadvertently proclaim the state of imminent famine at the internally displaced people’s camps in the Northeast despite the avalanche of food and relief materials that government has been pushing to the IDPs.
What with the jarring report by the foreign NGOs that the military are high-handed in the prosecution of the war and had killed over 7,000 innocent civilians in the region! No government worth its onions can tolerate such magnitude of lies against it by foreigners whose interests in the crisis are less than noble. That a United States of America-based NGO had predicted the breakup of Nigeria in 2015 underscores the partisan waywardness of these foreign media and their NGOs in cascading Boko Haram insurgency and pockets of terrorists activities going on in the country. There is therefore no lack of conspiracy theories in the rampaging violent profile in our dear country. It is patently sad that the international community is keeping mute over this matter. If it is because the Northeast is not the Niger Delta where the multinational oil companies have strategic interests that has induced this disturbing conspiracy of silence, then the international community should not be exonerated from blame in the mass hysteria afflicting Nigeria.
There is, indeed, a thriving underground economy symbolized by a huge scale of illegal arms business in the country today as though Nigeria is prosecuting a shooting with another country. And everybody knows that the illegal arms are daily smuggled into Nigeria from foreign countries by undesirable elements. This sorry state of affairs has been reinforced by the duplicity of these foreign media and their NGOs in our country. We are of the opinion that there are some powerful forces mounting strident extenuating propaganda to prolong the war in order for them to sell their weapons to the insurgents. This relentless, sophisticated and surprisingly effective propaganda campaign through foreign media and the NGOs is to persuade the world into believing that the Nigerian government does not have the capacity to effectively prosecute the war against insurgency and terrorism in the Northeast. They have perfected the manipulation of these proxy bodies essential to the propagation of that all too widely plotted fantasy.
More tragic is the partisan meddlesomeness of the Western media that will stop at nothing to circulate fake and unguarded stories on Africa while leaving out more horrible and ungodly materials in their respective countries unreported. Even though we may intellectually dismiss as an essentialized concept, we still must take it into account when looking at social settings and interactions, as race still very much is a crucial and material social construct in everyday existence. The assumption is that when people speak of race, they are talking about some way in which the world of humans has been divided. The most apparent of the markers by which these divisions have been made is physical appearance. But it is unthinkable that at the dusk of the second decade of the 21st century, racism has continued to colour Western media coverage.
All said, the Nigerian press should probe into this trajectory and counter all residues of racism and unwarranted Western media manipulation of the situation in the Northeast. All the foreign NGOs operating there and their local agents should understand the predicament of the military in fighting a non-conventional war. If this is the country we have all willingly come to accept as ours on the face of the earth, then we must develop a new faith in it so that we can all come together to make it work. The concept of faith in patriotism comes with belief in oneself, one country and one people. The expression of a deep national loyalty by all Nigerians to the entity called Nigeria irrespective of tribe and creed is what we need to overcome all our challenges as a country. The war in the Northeast must be brought to its logical conclusion and every stakeholder must respect the legal maxim that , ” he who must come to equity must do so with a clean hand.”
Abubakar is the Executive Secretary, Save Humanity Advocacy Centre (SHAC).