Journalists in Nigeria have been urged to put the unity of the country first in their reportage of security issues.
The appeal was made by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin during a one day seminar organized for defence correspondents in Abuja.
General Olonisakin says “the Armed forces of Nigeria with other key players have achieved remarkable successes in ending the boko haram insurgency,” adding that these successes couldn’t have been possible without the cooperation of the media practitioners.
With the theme “Constructive Reportage as an Important Ingredient for National Security and Integration”, the Defence Chief says “ the relationship between the military and the media is one of the critical dimensions of civil-military relations. This knowledge is underpinned by the fact that both institutions – media and the military- are significantly indispensable in the progressive running of any society. ”
The meeting brought to the fore, the different roles played by the Military and the Media and the need for them to cooperate, “in the matters of national security, peace and progress, they must understand, promote, protect and appreciate each other as partners in progress and co-stakeholders in the overriding task of nation building”, General Olonisakin said .
The Chief of Defence staff added that the military would continue to cherish the relationship with the media and seek areas to strengthen the partnership and enhance synergy.
“I have no doubt in my mind that by building bridges of understanding and collapsing the walls of mutual suspicion between the media and the military,’’ he added.
Olonisakin added that the security situation in Nigeria called for patriotic commitment of all institutions, especially the media as the watchdog of the society.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ayotunde Adesogba, said that in keeping the nation peaceful and united, the civil populace need to mobilize support for the Military and other security agencies.
“ I will recommend the putting in place of a sound public information strategy to enlighten Nigerians about the important roles the military has been tasked to play in the country. We should be able to keep the public abreast of other developmental services – and there are many – which we can offer and we are currently demonstrating this through “winning hearts and minds” projects, the Minister said.
Mohammed added that public enlightenment is key to winning the war against insurgency and the Ministry was currently demonstrating this through the “Winning of hearts and Minds Project”.
He acknowledged the enormous power inherent in the Media and urged the Military to harness it through a cordial relationship.
” The media serves as mobilizer and stabilizer in bringing needed national cohesion and development. We must therefore seek their valued understanding, partnership and friendship,” he added.
Security agencies were urged to do more in the area of confidence building between them and the media.
Other key speakers emphasized training and re-training of journalists to counter unprofessional reportage.