Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has assured that the federal government would continue to give priority attention to the operational requirements and welfare of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Mr Osinbajo who was the Reviewing officer, made the remark during the Passing out Parade of 187 Direct Short Service Course 28 at the Military Training Centre (MTC), Nigerian Air Force Base Kaduna on Wednesday.
He said in a few years, Nigeria would become “by far, the greatest military force in Africa.”
He appreciated the armed forces for effectively containing the territorial ambitions of the Boko Haram terrorists, by substantially degrading their capacity to attack and wreak havoc.
He assured Nigerians that the threats of ISWAP, bandits and other criminals would be effectively contained to secure the country.
The vice president said the military should deploy effective propaganda to diminish the efforts of insurgents who now use the social media to dish out falsehood to shore up their non-existing strength.
“There is also the threat of the Islamic State of West Africa Province ISWAP in the Lake Chad Islands and part of Southern Borno.
“Also, more often these days, these insurgents are focusing on soft targets, opportunistic attacks on isolated military units, as well as on increasingly sophisticated propaganda aimed at making them out to be more organised and lethal than they really are.
“This ever-increasing reliance on propaganda is a reminder that this is not only a ‘battleground’ war; it is just as much an information-and-narrative war.
“Winning hearts and minds has always been important in military warfare; it is even more so in a century defined by information and communication technologies.
“As 21st century military officers, how you project your strength and confidence to your enemies and the world, especially using social and digital media tools, is as important as the sophistication of the conventional arms and ammunition that you wield.
“But to do so effectively also means that you must take the time and trouble to fully understand the nature of the threats that confront us, the narratives and philosophies that underlie those threats.”
Mr Osinbajo added that the clashes between crop farmers and pastoralists, as well as the incidences of kidnapping, armed banditry and militancy are being effectively contained.
He disclosed that the federal government in collaboration with state governors has been reviewing the security architecture of the country.
“This has involved not just the armed forces but in particular the police who have recently announced their community policing strategy.
“This initiative involves the recruitment and training of policemen in each local government and ensuring that such new policemen remain in their local governments working with local and traditional authorities to maintain peace and security.
“As the president has said, security is a 24-hour occupation involving continuous investments in strategy and innovation.
“We will continue to take all necessary measures to tackle all forms of criminality across the country, and to safeguard lives and property of all Nigerians.”
He noted that the Nigerian Air Force has continued to be at the forefront of national security interventions, using “extremely successful digitally accurate bombings of terrorist hideouts.”
He listed such efforts to include the April destruction of Boko Haram mechanic workshop in Borno.
“Also in May, the air strikes on Tumbun Hamma on the fringes of Lake Chad, inflicting heavy casualties on ISWAP forces under Air Task Force of Operation LAFIYA DOLE and the air strikes on Sambisa Forest further eliminating insurgents.”
To the cadets, Mr Osinbajo reminded them of their responsibilities to Nigeria.
“We are Africa’s largest economy by GDP – states of Nigeria have larger economies than many African States. We have become the last frontier for major economic growth.
” We are the world’s largest growers of cassava and yams, we are top 5 in the world in sorghum, millet, we are approaching self-sufficiency in paddy rice production.
“Our potential in technology and entertainment has been attracting huge attention, first is the market. At 174 million GSM phones we are top ten telephone users in the world, and we have the highest percentage of people who use internet on their phones in the world.
“We are also number two in mobile internet banking in the world, 17 million Nigerians are on Facebook.
“Microsoft has announced that it will establish a 100 million dollar African Development Centre in Nigeria.
“We are already building our own drones. But not only are we building drones, we are also making spare parts for our aircrafts.
“We are also manufacturing armourd personnel carriers, and all sorts of different military platforms.
“All of these are things that Nigerians are doing in this country. Just last week, we saw, at the Army Day, sophisticated mine sweepers that are manufactured in this country.
“In a few short years, this country will be, by far, the greatest military force in Africa and certainly the most developed economy in Africa.”
He congratulated the cadets on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“This is both the end of one important journey, and the start of another, longer and potentially more fulfilling one. We rejoice with you and with your families, friends and loved ones.
“As you already know, this profession you have chosen requires discipline, loyalty and hard work.
“It is much more than just securing a job, or earning a salary; and more than just getting the chance to wear a coveted uniform or wield coveted weapons, ” he said.
Mr Osinbajo added that the ultimate aim of the service was to defend the territorial integrity of the country, “and to put your life on the line for the safety and welfare of millions of your country men and women.”