By Richard Murphy
We are in an era where fake news has contributed immensely to the propagation of violence and mutual suspicion in Nigeria. It is quite saddening why some individuals would elect to turn the truth on its head just for cheap popularity. These set of people do not care about the implication of their actions that they go about it with such recklessness.
There is no doubt that Nigeria is indeed going through some challenges, especially in the war against terrorism. We are witnesses to the havoc that has been caused by the Boko Haram group since 2009 when it began its violent campaign. We are also witnesses to the efforts of the government and the military authorities in tackling the Boko Haram menace. However, some individuals out of mischief would continue to spread falsehood at the detriment of national security.
Indeed, all Nigerians are entitled to their opinions, as well as the right to freedom of expression. The constitution guarantees such but should we continue in manners that further bolster the activities of those against the interest of Nigeria? You guess is as good as mine. This is my concern and as well as millions of well-meaning Nigerians that have the interest of the country at heart.
This piece is as a result of a post I stumbled on by one Otitoju, where he alleged that Boko Haram attacked Zuwo ward in Gubio Local Government Area and killed over 69 people. Not only is this post insensitive and an insult to our sensibilities, it neglects the numerous efforts of the Nigerian Military in operation in North-East Nigeria.
It is sad. Sad in the sense that some people would elect to type falsehoods from the comfort of their homes and put these in the public domain without having the courtesy to reflect on the impact of such negativity on the psyche of the generality of Nigerians. This is the starkness of reality in our hands.
I need not state further that the Nigerian Military has recorded gains in the war against terrorism. The records are there to be perused by all and sundry. That no local government area is under the control of the Boko Haram group suffices. That incidence of suicide bombings in the federal capital territory and other major cities in Nigeria indicates that something has indeed changed in the prosecution of the war against terrorism in Nigeria.
Pre-2015 and post-2015 provide us with this answer. And these landmarks are not magic. They are as a result of concerted efforts by the political leadership in Nigeria as well as the commitment displayed by the military leadership in the country.
It must be expressly stated that Otitoju falls amongst the category of Nigerians that do not want the Boko Haram crisis to come to an end. As such, they are saddened whenever gains are recorded. They attempt to propagate falsehood that bolsters the decimated Boko Haram group.
I challenge Otitoju to provide facts with regards to his despicable post about Boko Haram killing over 69 people in Zuwo ward in Gubio Local Government Area of Borno State. Was he on the ground in that ward or he relied on hearsay to draw his conclusions? These are questions we must ask if we are desirous of seeing to an end of the activities of the Boko Haram group.
It is insulting to some of us that are conversant with the happenings in North-East Nigeria. And also to some of us that have crisscrossed the theatre of operations and are witness to the great efforts of the Nigerian Military in ensuring that normalcy returns to North-East Nigeria.
I wish to throw this challenge to Otitoju and his likes to undertake a tour of the North-East and see things first hand on how our troops are toiling day and night in the trenches to ensure that the nefarious activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group are curtailed to the barest minimum.
The likes of Otitoju must realize that there is a difference between conventional warfare and asymmetric warfare. He must also recognize that what we are up against is ideological and not physical. As such, there is no room for hasty postulations and deductions. It is not as easy as it seems.
That the Boko Haram group were displaced from their operational headquarters in Sambisa forest and restricted to the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin region tells a lot about what has happened in the war against terrorism in Nigerian since 2015. It is not a fluke. It’s a product of great efforts from a committed and dedicated leadership that have not relented in the task at hand.
As I mentioned earlier, this is not the time to play by the gallery. However, instead, it is a time for Nigerians to be on the same page with regards to the prosecution of the war against terrorism in the country. We all have a role to play in support of the efforts of our troops. If we don’t support them, I wonder who would do it for us as we have all been victims of the fangs of the Boko Haram terror group directly or indirectly.
The enemies of truth in Nigeria are those who would misinform the general public on issues they are ignorant about. The enemies of truth are those who are holed up in the comfort of their homes and post inaccurate information that misleads and heightens tension in the polity.
The enemies of truth are those who spread terror amongst the populace with impunity. And the enemies of truth are those whose grasps of issues on the Boko Haram war are deficient and propelled for pecuniary gains.
I would state now and always that Nigeria is winning the war against Boko Haram, and there is no place for fictitious postulations. We have gone this far, and no discerning Nigerian would want to see Nigeria go back to the dark years. This much Otitoju must come to terms with. He should do well to verify his sources of information before taking space in the public domain. We have been through hell and back. And never shall we go back to those dark periods where the Boko Haram group wreaked havoc in North-East Nigeria.
Fake news has its implications, and trust me; it is always detrimental to our collective psyche. We must be guided and support the Nigerian Military as they push for the final defeat of the Boko Haram terrorist group. This is my take.
Murphy is a security expert and wrote from Calabar.