Boko Haram, ISIS not Islamic – Lai Mohammed

Solomon Chung, Abuja

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed has said that neither Boko Haram nor ISIS is Islamic and as such journalists reporting about their events must endeavour to use the correct identifiers. He said calling them Islamic gives them the ‘legitimacy they so desperately desire.

The Minister also stated that media reportage that glorifies or gives unfettered access to terrorists and corrupt networks is not supportive of Nigeria’s national interest.

He made this known during a one-day workshop on Conflict Sensitive Communications and reporting which held in Abuja on Wednesday.

He told participants at the workshop that to achieve the target of defeating terrorism and corruption, everyone has a role to play.

“We are not alone on this path. Across the globe, Nigeria – under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari – continues to enjoy the goodwill and support of big nations and organisations, all of which want to see us free from the scourge of terrorism and corruption. We must, as a nation, recognise this opportunity and seize it promptly.

As spokespersons of various agencies, defence correspondents and media stakeholders, Nigeria relies on you to understand this changing pattern of our fortune, and report it in a conflict-sensitive manner,” he said.

Mr. Mohammed explained that the pillar One of the United Nations Counter Terrorism Strategy identified  poverty, injustice, prolonged unresolved conflicts, lack of social mobility, alienation etc as conditions that are conducive to the spread of terrorism  and confirmed that all these factors are prevalent in Nigeria, and also  a direct consequence of the plunder of public funds.

Underlying Conditions

“That is why Nigeria’s fight against corruption is inextricably linked to the fight against terrorism,” Mohammed noted.

He said to defeat terrorism Nigeria must eliminate the underlying conditions that bring it about.

“In our very recent history, we also saw that you cannot fight an insurgency when your army is ill equipped, ill motivated and the soldier is not sure about his pay, because those who have been tasked with the responsibility to provide have chosen to divert and steal what is meant for funding a war we needed to win quickly.”

He also called on the economic and political elites to build a consensus against corruption and support every effort geared towards prosecuting it and returning wealth into the national coffers.

According to him, the Federal Government was working hard to put in place the institutional structures needed to implement a national strategy against terrorism and corruption.

“The war against terrorism and corruption must be anchored on an enduring Master Narrative.

A key guide to being effective is to know what narratives support and amplifies our core national values.

Our constitution, our religions, cultures, our diversity, our armed forces and law enforcement officers, our ability to rebound in the face of challenges all combine to make us a unique and great people.

Capacity Building

He said Government will support online communication in deepening democracy and building the capacity of Nigerians to participate in the decision making process. To reduce and manage conflicts.

“We will empower Nigerians with the information they need about government policies and actions to enable them make wise life decisions and to take advantage of opportunities.”

On his part, the National Security Adviser, Retired General Munguno who was represented by Colonel Folunsho Oyinlola said that communicating and reporting conflict in a sensitive manner is critical to peace and conflict resolution and a practice that both state and non state actors should imbibe.  

“Governance relies on communication to connect with the citizenry in a credible and efficient manner and with the increasing role of the social media; both government and the media must work closely to manage the change in ways that ensures national security and progress.”

 He also charged the participants and organizers on how to sustain the skills acquired in the series of such training. “One of the outputs expected from these trainings was the Development of a Conflict Sensitive Communications and Reporting Curriculum to be used in the training of journalists and government media Personnel.” 

Between November 2014 and July 2015, the Office of the National Security Adviser has partnered with the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, a UK department for International Development funded programme to deliver five trainings in Abuja, Kano, Jos, Port Harcourt and

Gombe States targeting spokespersons in law enforcement, security and Intelligence services as well as Defence and Security correspondents from the media were all in attendance.