The Minister of Information and Culture believes the Nigerian military should be given more recognition and respect.
“We need to be at the war-front especially the liberated areas to see the conditions under which they leave, to see the kind of threats they are exposed to everyday and despite all these, they have not only discharged their military duties but also carried out a very heavy humanitarian burden in terms of resettling the Internally Displaced Persons,” he said.
Mr Lai Mohammed was on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Christmas Day where he spoke further about the sacrifices made by the military men to protect the country against insurgency.
“I know a couple of them spend their own money to provide clothing and medications for the IDPs. I think we should all give the respect due to them and also the encouragement and we should also stop second guessing the military especially when they say we are going to defeat Boko Haram by December 31.
“From what I saw, the entire 79 km between Maiduguri and Bama was secured every few metres likewise the way to other axis – Adamawa and Yobe. I think they are doing a fantastic job and we should commend them”, he said.
Rules Of Engagement
Answering a question on how the Federal Government wants to make families of the dead or missing soldiers get informed, the Minister said, “I think we must respect the rules of engagement of the military, its not everything we see or read on the news (that) are true. Even if soldiers all of a sudden disappear, the explanation I’ve gotten from the military is that at times, they do retreat technically which doesn’t mean they are lost.
“You don’t announce the death of a soldier without contacting their families or unit, but I believe that the military hierarchy is taking this matter seriously”, he said.
Mr Mohammed also spoke about how the Federal Government plans to review military issues. “We have set up a committee which is made up of the military, intelligence chiefs and also the media that would meet to review military issues.
“We have also suggested a workshop to train defence reporters and defend those who are at the war-front.
“I believe that when these two programmes get on, it would help better the understanding between the military, media and public.
While talking about the role the government played on the Army/ Shiite clash, Mr Mohammed said that “I think the government have said something about it. I remember the Governor of Kaduna State (Nasir El-Rufai) made a broadcast to the state and also issued a statement. He regretted the unfortunate incident on behalf of the government.
“The government has set up a judicial inquiry to look into the main causes of the incident. Arrest have been made and people have also been prosecuted.
“I think what was important to the Governor and the government is the issue of law and order and peaceful coexistence and cohabitation between the people of Nigeria. I think by the time the judicial inquiry comes up with its recommendations, we would have been able to address the root cause of the problem not just in Zaria but other sectoral conflicts.”