By OKOSUN OKHUELEIGBE
Media practitioners have told to be considerate and conscious of National Interest while reporting developing trends in the fight against insurgency in the North East.
The Special adviser, Media and Publicity to President Mohammedu Buhari, Mr. Femi Adesina said this in Lagos on Monday while presenting a paper titled: Publicity: A Tool for Enhancing Terrorists Self Esteem,” as part of a three- day Media workshop organized by the Nigerian Army School of Public Relations and Information (NASPRI) at the Command Officers’ Mess, Marina.
Represented by the Managing Director of New Telegraph Newspapers, Mrs. Funke Egbemode, he advised the media to soft-pedal by reducing tension, panic and fear while reporting on terrorism.
She explained that given undeserved publicity to terrorism, the media may be seen as the oxygen that fuel tension noting that without publicity, the terrorists will thrive in vain.
“We need to navigate carefully and find the middle course between terrorism and commercial interest of the media organization. Without publicity, the terrorists wink in the dark, nobody knows what they do. They use utmost publicity to accomplish their acts. We are the oxygen that keeps them going.”
The media workshop with the theme; “Tackling Insurgency through Effective use of the media,“ was organized by NASPRI for Commanding officers, Defence and Crime Correspondents.
In her presentation, the Managing Director reiterated that the terrorist oxygenate themselves through publicity giving rise to intimidation, blackmail and propaganda. “the terrorist is dead without publicity.”
Egbemode emphasized the need for journalists to be professional and adhere to the ethics of the profession by been objective, truthful while given priority to National Interest in discharging their duty. “We need to report ethically without playing into the hands of the enemies.”
Speaking as the Special Guest of Honour, the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Mr. Haruna Baba Jauro said that the theme, “demonstrates the current drive of the Nigerian Army towards its combat capability for enhanced national security using the media and other channels of communication.
“At the NIMASA, we are also are very mindful of the security challenges and have committed to working agreements with the Nigeria Military including the army towards ridding our environment of unscrupulous elements bent on disrupting the peace”
He said : “ these collaborative efforts have contributed in no small measure towards ensuring safety and security on Nigeria’s territorial waters thus increasing business activities in the maritime sector and improving our image in the international community.”
In his welcome remarks, the Commandant, NASPRI , Col John Agim said the choice of the theme encapsulates the current realities in the Nigerian army especially with the challenge to rout out insurgency in the North East in consonance with the December Presidential mandate.
He said, “I charge you all to take advantage of this training window to broaden your horizon on the dynamics of media reportage in the field particularly now that the battle space is suffocated with enormous information flow. Modern warfare is information driven; we must join in the vanguard in ensuring that we take advantage of the media in the fight against insurgency.
According to the Commandant, the workshop aims at building effective synergy between Officers of the DAPR, Commanding Officers, Defence and Crime correspondents to build the requisite capacity for information management.
However, Prof Ralph Akinfeleye of the University of Lagos emphasized the need for the military and the media to synergize so that information sharing will be robust thereby minimizing areas of conflict that might arise due to inadequate information.
He cautioned the military not to hoard information as that could give rise to “rumour network”which is very powerful.
“The military should understand that no one can padlock the air. They should give journalists information while empowering NASPRI to do more and sell ideas about military operations in the North East.
Prof Akinfeleye spoke on the topic: “The role of the media in military operation: A review of activities in the North