The Vanguard Effect: Why We Love the American Army More Than Ours

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Don’t get me wrong, the Nigerian government has failed us in many ways regarding this boko haram issue. But the alarming extent at which the Nigeria media is willing to go to paint the foreigners as instant saviors is almost embarrassing. Normally I would ignore this and just move on, but this to a large extent what takes place across our nation and is fed by hollywood movie sensationalism.

From Transformers to Independence day to even Avengers we have the foreigners-will-rescue-us mentality. Call the American army and everything is magically fixed. So persistent are these images that Nigerians in the 21st century are of the mind set that once the foreigners get involved boko haram will be automatically caught … and overnight.

I mean how else do you explain a National newspaper of the calibre of Vanguard printing an article on its front page with the headline CHIBOK: US MARINES LOCATE ABDUCTED GIRLS with an image showing 2 supposedly American marines leading a purported boko haram leader away? But yet the image is a picture taken not in Nigeria but in the Central African Republic that has nothing to do with bokoharam! But let’s ignore the picture as hard as it is to do. Lets focus on the article…

The article itself is filled with so many contradictions it hurts to read see article here And let’s not forget that it required 3 people to write it namely Kingsley Omonobi, Henry Umoru and Victoria Ojeme (who weirdly did not leave their contacts in the article) ! How it still turned out so shitty with all 3 of them writing is quite impressive.

First it says “the 230 female students abducted by Boko Haram … have been sited at the Sambisa Forest in Borno State, by the Special Forces of the United States Marines.”

but then it contradicts itself within a few paragraphs “But there are no plans to send American combat troops into Nigeria.”

and then manages to re-contradict itself again “US Marines find abducted girls, arrest Boko Haram leader.” 

chibokHow do you explain such a wretched article coming from Vanguard and being front page news? An article that as of today has generated 17,000 facebooks likes and 928+ retweets of false news. And an additional 957 comments, most of which are glorifying the presence of the US army while raining insults on the Nigerian military and their incompetence?

But yet no single facts were stated within it as the article failed to give any solid source just journalistic hear-say but yet we all run with it, tweet it, like it and believe it … because of the hunger for the hollywood ending.

But its not just Vanguard that is guilty, it’s us, most of us. People who perpetrate that hollywood image that foreigners have come to rescue us from the boko haram aliens but forget that the last successful US intervention is arguably as far back as the 1990 Gulf War. But yet all this is forgotten…

So we find at our work place … Foreign managers getting credit for the hard work of Nigerians, it does not matter that they have been on the job for less than 1 month. Anything positive will be attributed to him or her and anything negative … must be the Nigerians causing it. And then we sit down and wonder why Nigerians can’t be trusted with anything, why we need to import foreign help to run stuff as simple as a retail store or pharmacy. Well, it is because of stuff like this, that Vanguard headline and that image.

Like I said at the beginning, I am not blown away with our military but under the circumstances, they are trying. Like my friend Edefe Ojomo said:

“The Nigerian soldier. Unsung hero. Victim of a corrupt system that sends him/her to die in vain. Underpaid, un(der)equipped, un(der)appreciated, un(der)recognised”

And that is the truth, we are quick to exalt the foreign factor but fail to understand the difficulties the Nigerian army faces. The fact that they are under-paid, under-appreciated and rarely recognized but yet are still able to achieve some level of success! That is admirable.

But the most annoying part is the ease at which we forget their past achievements/positives. We (the government and the people) are slow to recognize them for their efforts, we are quick to forget that they drove boko haram out of Maiduguri and have limited their activities to the borders of Nigeria. We forget all they have done in as instant, because the Americans are here, the foreigners have arrived.

We need to change that mentality and while doing so, we need to hold our journalists to a higher standard. This Vanguard article is highly inexcusable. But what is more inexcusable is us ignoring our Nigeria achievements , our potential and other things simply because the foreigners have arrived.

NOTE: I am not asking that we do not work with foreigners, far from it, what I am asking is that we do not give them all the credit. At the end of the day if the US succeeds it will be in a large part done by intelligence/resources from the Nigerian army. Lastly, if you feel annoyed by this Vanguard article please let the folks at Vanguard know, email them at

twitterWritten and Drawn By Okechukwu Ofili of
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Words by Okechukwu Ofili of
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26 comments on “The Vanguard Effect: Why We Love the American Army More Than Ours

  1. O_Intuition! on said:

    Good Observation @the Content of Vanguard Newspaper.

    I applaud the Nigerian Armed Forces.
    However there is something wrong somewhere in respect to their (recent) training. The Nigerian Armed Forces was once the backbone of ECOMOG, we sent our able-bodied soldiers to several west African countries to protect lives and ensure peace.
    Since they were sent to the barracks viz a viz Democracy, in 1999, It is as though they have literally just given up on their core strengths.
    At the pay, I know the Nigerian Armed Forces are well paid even the soldiers. They are all well remunerated.
    I cant say this for our police.

    I served in a military setting. In fact 80 percent of my life has been in the military. What I observe, regardless of them being equipped(they are equipped…but not as those of the USA tho) or not, is the attitudes of the members of these forces. They have this ‘the military will protect theirs(their family et al) first’ ie exhaust all their arsenal of weapons or even hoard it, to ensure their own safety just in case.
    They are more concerned about their own, not ‘bloody civilians’.

    Maybe its time we adopt a form of training which the ‘UK/US’ uses…Encourage more civilians esp those with tertiary degrees to join the Forces. Let there be a strong bridge between the ‘military people’ and ‘civilians’. With these we would find, appreciate and Value our own more.

    In Between, Thanks for giving insights into critical issues.

    • You spoke as if u were truly a military personnel bt no. U only worked with them. What d paper publishes about their huge renumerations may be true bt hw sure are u dis renumerations gets to d rank and files in d army. Be kiaful of wht u say before you become a tatafo. Nigerian Army do d oddest job and get cheated dialy by their superiors. But if u re desperate to join d job and make fast money as u think thr is then u may as well take a second thought bcus u may likely end up in Sambissa forest.

  2. Ofil, in a way you can see the same mentality in our president. During his media chat last Sunday, he kept saying “Countries that are superior to us”, and I wanted to shake him and say that even though there are countries that are way advanced than we are, it doesn’t mean that we are not capable in our own way.

    I get frustrated when I meet people who see everything foreign as superior. Having taught in a University here in the States, I have come to realize that they are not necessarily smarter, but they have been able to harness their resources and apply them in ways that advance their society. In Nigeria, we squander resources, we fail to build capacity and ultimately think the West should save us.

    Military operatives truly lead a difficult life and their successes have been overshadowed by the difficulties of carrying out their duties in the Nigerian environment. One of the things that I hope Nigerians take away from this Crisis is that we are ultimately responsible for the future of our nation, starting from the kind of leaders we elect. A competent leader will know how to make better use of the resources within his/her command to achieve the best possible result.
    Monale Alemika latest post is Speaking about #BringBackOurGirls on Fox 29 News PhiladelphiaMy Profile

  3. We have a everything foreign is right mentality and the failure of our government does not help. That being said, the Nigerian army is actually pretty good in conventional warfare but I don’t think they have ever been tested in guerrilla warfare and fighting terrorism. It is also funny that people forget that for the most part America has not been successful with the war on terror on foreign soil. Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are far from stable. At the end I think most Nigerians are just happy that we are receiving some help because let’s face it with an indisciplined and corrupt system we need all the help we can get to mitigate the activities of boko haram

  4. The Nigerian Military should have a coordinated media department that releases factual information and maybe all these rumours will stop making rounds.

    Also people will come to realise the gains that they (military) have made in the fight against terrorism.

    That being said, #bringbackourgirls

    • Ofili
      Ofili on said:

      True Ebuka. The issue always seems to boil down to poor communication. If they hold a press conference regularly where journalists can ask questions and get detailed answers things will be clearer. But people in power are camera shy.

  5. Ofili, I was shocked and appalled after reading the story on Vanguard. A simple Google search would have saved them the embarrassment.

    Thanks for dropping their contact info. I’m emailing them right away.

    Kudos to our military for the job they’ve been doing trying to contain this menace. I definitely agree with O_Intuition!, a scholarship for military personnel will help boost morals and make the military more attractive.
    Segun Pryme latest post is #BringBackOurGirls: The Chibok Abduction Story is Missing Basic Facts – CSMMy Profile

  6. …And someone talks about it – yeepee. I was ashamed when I saw the article. Something inside me was actually hoping it was coming from Sahara Reporters or some fake tabloid, but Vanguard? I had so much respect for them!

    I wonder when people will come to realize that hollywood is just American propaganda. I actually read tweets about Jack Bauer, of the TV series 24, being among the crew that arrived (good comic relief); but I think we should have some faith in our black skin and believe that we as a colour, as a race could also make a difference in the global community (no racism intended) not just in naija.
    Edima Inwang latest post is MY RELIGION, MY SENSEMy Profile

  7. Vanguard prolly wanted to sell loads of copies of newspapers and make lots of $ from google ads as well.. Which I think they achieved..

  8. Deji on said:


    I was also shocked by bbm display pictures and etc…
    Had an argument with my friend on this and he claimed The United States sent 2 battalion! lol! and he heard it from the media! I told him if he did not hear it from Channels then its probably not true!

    How the heck does a news paper of that calibre publish such???
    or am I being delusional? SHAME ON THE EDITOR

  9. On point ofili, 1st of all i’m gonna mail these guys, and i’ll forever rep the nigerian army….these guys where responsible for the quelling of rebel uprisings in sierra leone and liberia some years back, how come locating a few 100 girls now has become a herculean task? naija politics jooo!!!

  10. Frances on said:

    It is indeed a wonder that at this stage of our democracy, growth and developement, a news paper like vanguard will rather go for selling sensation rather than the truth.

    That said, it still boils down to a lack of communication from our government and its representatives and like Ofili said ‘if you don’t feed the citizenry the right information, the people and even the media will make up stories for themselve’.

    Our government needs to let us in on what’s happening and what’s mere speculation. We are not asking them for secret mission/plan etc, we are only asking them to carry us along.

    Let’s know what’s happening in our dear nation, let’s know if our military is compromised or incapable or if all we need if assistance. LET’S KNOW!

    Why do we have elected representatives and yet mop like dundies? Its because we as citizens are not kept in the loop of anything. Its just plain and simple, either our government or its representatives don’t know what their job roles entail or they don’t care about the citizens…. And how do we know if we are not told? Who created the avenue for false information/ unbaked/ uncencored and unverified information to be sold to the eager (hungry) public?

    The Nigeria story exhaust me. Well done Ofili.


  11. Wills on said:

    Thanks Ofili for raising this, I noticed the article that Saturday it was published and copied the headline picture and twited the “foolish Vanguard” twitter handel asking them why report such an unverified and embarrassing news story- I then shared it on facebook. However to me what’s more shocking is that this out right misinformation and copy and paste journalism by Vanguard newspaper has not drawn much criticisms from the media both print and TV/Radio broadcast or the twitter warlords and Nigerians in our passive nature didn’t really pick up on the damages such foolish reporting can cause, especially in a docile and passive society like ours — a friend of mine on his facebook page quoted this dumb story of US marines with the picture from CAR and then wrote ” MY GOD HAS STARTED HIS MIRACLES ALREADY” because he actually believed this.

    I got so angry I lashed out at him for not only re peddling this false news, but even bringing God into it… few mins later he brought down the post .

    When will Nigerians take excellence serious and leave mediocrity alone when, when I ask? How come Vanguard didn’t publicly apologize and yet still print news that people will buy… just to imagine that people even bought this fake news they headlined ( if they did apologize for this false news I never saw one) .

    In a much demanding and normal society, at least the immediate sales of Vanguard should have dropped by 50% and ads fall by almost as much, since people will want to keep away from a news organization that so boldly reports stories that are not credible and mixed with so many contradictions when they are not a tabloid.

    Alas! But since we are in Nigeria Vanguard is still vanguard nothing changes. But for me, never again will I buy Vanguard…

    • Ofili
      Ofili on said:

      They actually tendered an apology as well on the front page the following morning. Kudos to them.

  12. Tony on said:

    great piece.
    I would also love to read an article from you about how soldiers treat the average civilian on the street. you’d shocked at d inhumanity some of these soldiers unleash on innocent people sometimes bcos the dint leave the road on time wen the heard the siren of the army vehicle.

  13. loool they took off the article from their site realising how much a shame it was to live it there. Nigerians must realise that we own our country not the american, no the french, no the chinco but we own are nation. We must develop ourselves if we have dreams of progress

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