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War Against Insurgents: Media Cooperation Is Imperative

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A lot of uncomplimentary things have happened in some communities over the past few years due to the activities of insurgents. As a result of the same reasons, many families were dislocated while the means of livelihood of thousands of people came to a standstill apart from the loss of thousands of lives witnessed across the country. This is until when the army came in, in a big way.

The situation described above has now improved considerably due to the timely intervention of security agents especially the personnel of the Nigerian Army. The soldiers, according to reports have now succeeded in bringing about sanity and peace in many areas due to their gallant efforts and professionalism.

As some experts would want to say the activities of the Boko Haram in the North East and insurgents generally, have been degraded and the miscreants sent into hiding. These groups include even the professional abductors and dangerous armed robbers who have for a long time now been terrorizing innocent people on the Nigerian highways. All these have almost become history now.

The current situation of things as far as security is concerned could be better appreciated if we could cast our minds back to between 2013 and 2015.

This includes the denial of almost everything concerning their existence including how to look after their families and even the freedom to worship one’s religion and to even socialize the way they were brought up. The situation was really bad. The people were literally cut off from the rest of the country apart from witnessing the horrific killings of thousands of their relations.

It is an accepted fact that for the army to succeed in its assignments they need the cooperation, support, and understanding of not only the public but from the media people. In other words, for the army to win the war, media cooperation is imperative from top to bottom of the whole system. The media as an institution is in the best position to give the type of support needed by the soldiers to enable them to deal ruthlessly with the insurgents.

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The media could also encourage the army to perform very well through providing them with positive information while at the same time destroying the initiative of the insurgents by refusing to give them positive publicity which they crave for any time they are engaged in a war with any group of people. The war against the insurgents cannot be won without the active support and cooperation of the media, my colleagues have argued though some people in the military circle might disagree with this view.

The role of the media when the army is engaged in this type of battle with the insurgents cannot be overemphasized. It is on record that such wars are often won through the effective and positive support given to the army by the media. The media does not engage in actions that could demoralize the soldiers nor does it do anything in any way that could boost the egos of the insurgents which is what most miscreants always crave for when they engage soldiers in a battle.

It is because of this that this writer is of the view that the way and manner the military is tackling the issue of media/army cooperation is commendable. The army leadership has taken up the issue just like the way the entire military authority is currently handling it. Last week the military organized a media workshop on this issue in Kaduna and its outcome was a positive one.

Defence Minister, Mansur Dan Ali had explained that the two-day workshop was organized to enable the participants to thoroughly discuss what needs to be done on the issue of support and cooperation between the army and the media people. The event was attended by professionals from the two sides including renowned journalists like Mahmud Jega, some other editors from the television and radio houses, while senior officers from the military attended the seminar.

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It is precise because of its importance to the nation and the growing interest the issue has generated that the matter was also a subject of an intense discussion at a conference organized recently specifically to discuss the relationship between the Army and the media. The conference was attended by professionals from the two groups with experts among them highlighting the importance of such close rapport between the Army and journalists.

Talking about the role of the media reminds this writer about the role of Chief Executives of Media Houses and their reporters are expected to play in the efforts the Nigerian Government and the Army leadership are making to end the current war against the insurgents across the country. The media, according to military leaders are supposed to be in the forefront in educating the people about the successes being achieved by the army and how it could downplay the effect of fake news on the morale of soldiers.

The army seriously believes that spreading false or unbalanced news is not only very dangerous to a soldier’s psychology but is also capable of causing great havoc in the ongoing war against insurgents. The soldier’s morale has been severely affected by such reports last year as indicated by the army.

It was because of this and other reasons that this writer started his own campaign for the support of the army as far back as at the end of last year. My write-ups on these issues especially on the need for public support for the Nigerian army were published in November and December last year in the Daily Trust and Pilot newspapers. In the write-ups, I supported the views expressed by the COAS himself and the former army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman that the army needs a massive media and public support to assist them in the ongoing war. This support can boost the morale of the soldiers.

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Now that the Ministry of Information has started its own campaign in earnest, the public especially the media should take up the challenge in being more professional in their reportage. The public should show more understanding and cooperation with the soldiers to enable them to win the war.

The war has been a tough one with the current Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Gen. Buratai, displaying his wealth of experience, intelligence and extreme courage in subduing and overrunning the dangerous Boko Haram elements. The crushing of the insurgents has achieved through Gen. Buratai’s bravery and no-nonsense attitude towards the Boko Haram insurgents. Before Gen. Buratai came to office, the situation was bad. The efforts of his men is a big relief for people in the North East.

Gen, Buratai’s penchant for professionalism was clearly manifested in 2015 when he introduced far-reaching policy decisions concerning the professionalization of the Nigerian Army in line with best international practices. He insists on merit and adherence to the rule of law, due process and rules of engagement during any military operation. He does not compromise on the issue of discipline at all times.

The courageous and inspiring efforts of Gen. Buratai and his lieutenants over the years together with the unflinching determination of the troops on the ground who are involved in many special operations like Lafia Dole etc enabled the army to record the huge success noticed across the country. The army no doubt deserves at least commendations from Nigerians within and outside the country.

Biu sent this from Abuja

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