The recent incident at Rann village, the home of the late General Mohammad Shuwa, a patriotic and nationalist soldier at Kala Balge Local Government Area of Borno State, has generated a lot of reactions from many quarters.
Some people made negative and to a greater extent, naive comments over the incident which many people, both at home and abroad believe was a mistake.
Friendly firing of arsenals means unintentional killing of people during military operations. In other words, it means unintentional harm to civilians or property during wars.
And whenever such incident occurs, the best thing is for all to rise in unison and attend to the victims and the bereaved. They should identify mistakes, correct them and encourage the military to be vigilant. The citizens must also forgive the military and pray for them to remain strong in their efforts at battling the common enemy.
Therefore, the crude commentaries on the Rann incident in a section of the media was nothing but diversionary.
Some people portrayed the unfortunate incident as if it was a deliberate act. Some of them went as far as attacking the government and condemning the army, despite the fact that our gallant soldiers are also humans who are bound to make mistakes.
Collateral damage occurs during wars in many countries and even in the most sophisticated, despite the devices they have through which they determine the presence and location of an object by measuring the time and the length. This is in addition to the night vision devices they use.
The Rann incident was the first of such recorded by the Nigerian military in nearly two years, when President Muhammadu Buhari took over as president and changed the tune of the fight in the North-east.
We recall that during the Yugoslavian war with Slovadan’s administration, America committed a lot of such mistakes. During the Gulf war between Kuwait and Iraq, Americans did the same thing in Iraq. The worst of such collateral damage took place in Afghanistan when Americans bombarded a place called Mazarussharif, where about 500 captives were killed.
They also bombarded a place where people had gathered for a marriage ceremony. Also in Yugoslavia, a Chinese embassy was hit, an issue which almost created a problem between the two superpowers. It has also occurred in Syria several times. Israel has bombarded several houses of Palestinians with inhabitants in them.
I cannot understand why some people are bent on ignoring the good part of the Buhari government. Where were they during the last administration when almost on a daily basis, two or three persons were killed in the city of Maiduguri? Where were they when towns and villages were captured at will? Where were they when flagrant violation of human right was being perpetrated? Where were they when state of emergency and curfews were the order of the day?
Where were they when Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State was attacked? Where were they when dreadful pogrom took place in Baga? More than 2000 people were killed. What were they doing when a gathering of civilians in a village in Borno State, were attacked? What did they say when innocent civilians were being tortured to death?
It is convenient for the detractors to say that all the atrocities committed during the previous administration were “mistakes” while the mistakes made by today’s military are “calculated”.
In as much as constructive criticism is always good, giving credit to whom it is due should be our guiding principle as a nation.
The last government lived in denial and could not rescue even one out of the over 200 missing Chibok girls while this government has been able to free 23 of them.
Some commentators are saying the Buhari government must pay compensation to those who were hit in Rann, while flagrantly forgetting the countless people who were allowed to perish by the previous administration.
Of course, it is not out of place for the government to compensate the families of the victims but it is always good to be objective in our analysis. People should avoid making unverifiable claims that cannot stand the test of time.
As Nigerians, we should not blindfold our eyes from seeing the truth because of hatred and sentiment. Those of us living in Borno can attest to the fact that our military operatives have done well; they have degraded Boko Haram.
The boorish comments of wailers cannot thwart the efforts of our dauntless army. In the past, we, the people of the North East, suffered negligence. Our pains were not taken seriously; we were treated as if we were not part of Nigeria. Now the difference is crystal clear.
Our troops became laughing stock during the previous administration. They were seen as cowards.
However, the story has changed under the able leadership of PMB and Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai who have succeeded in restoring the lost glory of our soldiers. They are now exhibiting courage.
We would continue to encourage Mr. President to remain resolute in his resolve to do good to all, irrespective of religion, region, tribe or party affiliation.
We pray that he does not get distracted by distractive criticisms even as we continue to thank Almighty Allah for bringing PMB at this trying moment of out nationhood.
Prof. Muhammad Muazu Nguru is the Director/CEO, Nigeria Arabic Language Village, Ngala, Borno State.