by Editi Effiong
A change in perception.
How easy is it to die for another? Especially when that other is someone you barely know?
A few months ago, I started a yearlong tour of Northern Nigeria, which has brought me just short of coming face to face with the current war against terrorism. A striking image was my brief meeting with soldiers at one of the IDP camps. I was awed by their high spirits.
At first I felt sad, sad that somewhere in Nigeria there are people are living in fear. I felt angry, angry that there exist people who will take our fragile peace and shatter it. But most of all, I felt proud. I was proud of the fact that there were men and women; Nigerians though not perfect, who will leave home to fight that our integrity may remain. I was inspired that people willingly left their parents, home and spouse, some even children, to act as a buffer between the insurgency and us.
A thankless job
These courageous few that I daresay are heroes rising. I know soldiers are meant to protect us and all, but out here in the desert plains, it struck me how important their work is. It struck me how most of what I knew about my country’s military was largely from the media – largely negative. It also dawned on me that being a soldier, is almost a thankless job.
But what do we do for them in return?
At Anakle, 2015 has seen us grow in terms of the real bottom line – people and ideas. This will not have been possible without peace. A peace, someone, somewhere was willing to die to keep. A peace for which we owe a debt of gratitude to the bravery of our military. A peace that ensures we go home to the comfort of our families by 5pm every other day.
First step is on us
We are a team of digital creatives, so we have decided to set up a platform for every active citizen. Armed with social media, or any other tool, we can join the front lines to encourage our soldiers for their valour. They are never and will never be alone in the fight against terrorism. This is why we are observing a Military Appreciation Week, from the 4th – 10th of December, 2015.
We are using the Internet as a kick-off platform to appreciate our men in uniform, under the theme “Thank A Soldier”. The online campaign will be driven by a dedicated website, www.thankasoldier.ng, with the hashtag #ThankASoldier for social media platforms.
What you can do to #ThankASoldier
We invite you, your friends, and everyone who can, to join us to celebrate our soldiers. For nothing can stand in the way of an army comprising of over 150 million soldiers and civilians. Absolutely nothing – not even a handful of extremists.
For our online campaign, you can:
– Thank with a salute (a personal or group photo of a salute) www.thankasoldier.ng/salute
– Post on social media with the hashtag #ThankASoldier
– Thank with a message on the website wall (thankasoldier.ng)
– Follow the social media channels.
You can do them all. If you find better ways of showing your gratitude, please go ahead, and share with the rest of us. We will collate the most creative salute photos, and share them through the #ThankASoldier website. There is more.
We can appreciate our service men offline too!
If you see an officer of the Nigerian military, please do well to stop and say thanks. Take a selfie with a willing soldier, share it online with the hashtag. You can also give free rides to soldiers, donate to military charities, or deliver holiday hampers to military families (their breadwinners are out fighting).
We are also planning an end of the year party for military families on December 10, Bonny Camp Cantonment. This is our own way of saying thank you, and you can join us. If you know any artistes who could do a free 1 hour daytime concert, on a Thursday, please let us know.
Final words before the fun begins
Hats off to all individuals and teams who have committed to this campaign already. Double hats off to those who will join us.
To our men and women in uniform we celebrate you. For all those who answer the call to serve fatherland are either martyrs fallen, heroes standing or champions rising.