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Banditry: It is about time unity kicks in

Banditry: It is about time unity kicks in

Nigeria will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and fail, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. The chances of an invading force destroying this country is next to impossible. Even if by a superior foe, all they will accomplish is unite 200 million people against a common enemy.

We can, however, give it all away without the enemy firing a single shot. Whether it be from greedy and corrupt government officials who keep hoarding money they cannot hope to spend in ten life times, or we the citizens manipulated to carry out self destructive activities as was seen in the Arab Spring in Syria and Libya. It is a delicate balance. If this goes unchallenged precedence is established, then it gets harder and harder to restore normalcy. 

It has been a very positive couple of months for Nigeria, acts of terrorism was its lowest since 2011, acts of piracy was at its lowest since 1994. ISWAP commanders are Killing in Action (KIA) on a regular basis. Over 25,000 insurgents have surrendered. And all these were accomplished without external assistance. An ambience of optimism about the future.

Former insurgents surrendering at Borno state

But this is fifth dimensional warfare where the battlefield is not limited to the frontlines. If events in the last couple of years are anything to go by, a period of big wins for the Nigerian military is usually followed up by a period of “lull”.

Even the usual social critics tone down their attacks. But that doesn’t mean that the enemy spin machine has gone quiet. Then like a bolt of lightening from the sky, Nigeria is subjected to spectacular attacks on the battlefield and information superhighway simultaneously. Years of eroded trust in the government mean that receptive audiences go on hairs trigger alert during this “lull” period, waiting for that spark to ignite. They manage to turn public opinion against the military and government. Years of progress become meaningless.

We are in that phase again. Spectacular insurgent attacks. These attacks do not alter the tactical realities on the ground. But that is irrelevant, controlling the narrative is the goal here.

So while bandits are carrying out attacks against soft targets, the online warriors have opened another front, and together with gullible Nigerians are doing damage to the country on a scale terrorists can only dream of. This is a war of public opinion. The manipulation of opinion, glorification of self destructive activities mean we are dangling over a cliff. Most of the people pushing these narratives are not even in Nigeria.

In the space of one week two years worth of progress have been rendered meaningless to people. The key to victory lies not in the bombs and fighter jets and tanks, but with Nigerians themselves. We are mirroring what happened in Libya. The government is genocidal, the government is this and that, and woe betide thee who dare argue otherwise. 

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The whole country is a mess right now not because of bandits attacks, but the information warfare being waged against the Nigerian Federation. They know defeating the Nigerian military is an impossible proposition, so they hope to achieve victory by durable disorder. This is what we must push back against.

It is about time that unity kicks in.

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