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Why Nigerians Should Stop Bashing Soldiers


Many Nigerians were enraged recently when the Nigerian military shut down Banex Plaza, Abuja’s one of Abuja following a clash involving some shop owners and soldiers.

Their grouse? The military’s action was unconstitutional and quite condemnable in a democracy.

Accusations of human rights abuses frequently shadow the actions of Nigerian military personnel, overshadowing their critical role in protecting the nation.

While scrutiny and accountability are vital, it is equally important to recognize and appreciate the sacrifices and efforts of our military men and women.

In stark contrast to countries like the United States, where military personnel are celebrated and honoured, Nigerian soldiers often face derision and abuse from the public.

In the United States, military personnel are held in high esteem by the public.

They enjoy numerous perks, such as priority boarding on flights, discounts in stores, and expressions of gratitude in everyday interactions.

This public appreciation is not merely ceremonial; it reflects a deep-seated respect for the sacrifices and service of military members.

The reverse, unfortunately, is the case in Nigeria. Yet, the sacrifices made by Nigerian soldiers are immense.

Nigerian soldiers often face public scorn and abuse.

They are derided in social media and public discourse, their actions scrutinized more for failings than for their bravery and dedication.

The Nigerian military plays an indispensable role in maintaining national security and stability.

They are at the forefront of the fight against terrorism, banditry, and kidnapping—threats that have plagued the country for years.

From battling Boko Haram in the North East to confronting bandits in the North West, Nigerian soldiers risk their lives daily to ensure the safety and security of citizens.

Their duty often takes them away from their families, thrusting them into dangerous and hostile environments where the threat of death is a constant companion.

Many have paid the ultimate price, losing their lives in the line of duty.

Others have suffered debilitating injuries, both physical and psychological.

The toll on their families is equally significant, with spouses and children enduring long periods of separation and the perpetual fear of losing their loved ones.

These sacrifices are made quietly, with little fanfare or recognition, and often without the assurance of adequate support or compensation.

The negative perception of Nigerian soldiers is partly rooted in misunderstanding and mistrust.

Incidents of human rights abuses, whether substantiated or not, have tainted the image of the military.

However, it is crucial to recognize that these incidents, while serious and deserving of accountability, do not represent the entirety of the military’s efforts or intentions.

Many soldiers operate under extreme stress and in complex, dangerous environments where split-second decisions can mean the difference between life and death.

Criticism and accountability are necessary to ensure that the military operates within the bounds of the law and respects human rights.

However, this criticism must be balanced with recognition and appreciation for the positive and essential work that soldiers do.

It is unfair and detrimental to allow the actions of a few to define the perception of the entire military.

Public support for the military is not just a matter of morale; it has practical implications.

Soldiers who feel appreciated and supported by their fellow citizens are more likely to be motivated and committed to their duties.

Public recognition can also foster a sense of unity and shared purpose, bridging the gap between civilians and the military.

In times of crisis, this unity can be crucial for national resilience and recovery.

Going forward, Nigerians would do well to engage in simple acts of recognition whenever they encounter soldiers, just like it is done in the US.

Government should also involve more civilians, with no ties to the military, in public events and ceremonies that honour military personnel can help raise awareness and appreciation.

Businesses can also consider implementing perks for military personnel, such as discounts in stores, priority services, and public transportation as a way of showing tangible appreciation for the sacrifices of soldiers.

Ensuring that soldiers and their families have access to adequate support systems, including healthcare, counselling, and financial assistance, can help mitigate the sacrifices they make and show that their service is valued.

Finally, the media have a responsibility to report on both the positive contributions and the failings of the military.

Balanced reporting can help create a more nuanced understanding of the military’s role and challenges.

Nigerian soldiers deserve more than just criticism; they deserve our respect, appreciation, and support.

Their sacrifices and efforts in protecting the nation from various threats are invaluable and often come at a great personal cost.

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