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How army countered Boko Haram’s media-aided war, by ex-spokesman

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Former spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen. Sani Kukasheka (rtd.), has said explained how the Nigerian military survived and countered Boko Haram, which had fully deployed the media in the terrorism war.

He said the army almost lost the counter-terrorism war to the sophisticated communication techniques deployed by Boko Haram against the state.

Kukasheka, who revealed how the terrorists maximised the effectiveness of the mainstream and social media platforms to orchestrate psychological warfare on troops and ordinary citizens, regretted what he considered poor communication crisis management on the part of Nigerian government as critical setback in the battle.

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The retired general spoke at the weekend in Kano at a special dinner organised by the 2018/2019 set of Masters of Public Relations students of Bayero University, Kano (BUK), on crisis management.

His words, “The terrorists had almost consumed the entire North East and some parts of the country before 2015, when nobody dared face the terrorists or even mention the name of the spiritual leader on the media.

“They had enjoyed all the media platforms, including radio, Youtube, twitter and other unconventional means to their advantage. There was a missing link: communication. The narrative was so overwhelming that, even the troops at the theatre were largely demoralised because the picture being painted by the terrorists through their communication channels was as if the bandits had more than one life.”

Kukasheka, who hails from the war-riddled North East, contended that the military was able to counter the negative narrative of the terrorists with the deployment of effective communication crisis management that substantially crippled the terrorists’ channels of communication, a paradigm shift that helped the military regain strength and morale.

He insisted that the military had largely degraded and restricted the Boko Haram, considering the deadly forces and attack mounted on the state at the onset.

Applauding the troops’ sacrifice and determination to concur the enemies, he commended the Nigerian media for effective campaign that changed the narrative from the lopsided communication the populace were forced to
savour.

President of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Muktar Surajo, who was special guest at the dinner, insisted that the deployment of troops might not end the battle against Boko Haram, which is largely rooted in ideological creed.

Surajo, who noted that the Nigerian government had applied wrong method for too long to manage the crisis in the North East, however advocated strategic communication management that will address the recruitment market for the bandits, which he identified as unemployment.

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