ABUJA—Stakeholders in the Nigeria military and the media, have emphasized the need to build a consensus between the two key institutions,on what constitutes national security and how it can be protected.
This was the crux of the maiden media interactive session, organised by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria(HURIWA), in Abuja on Monday, with the theme, “Urgency of the Now for Responsible Security Reporting by Nigerian Media”.
In his opening remarks, the National Coordinator, HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said that Nigeria is facing high level terrorism and such unique situation is an extraordinary time for everyone especially the media, adding that the media is a bridge between the government and the governed.
He, urged the media to be very responsible and professional in their reportage and to avoid writing stories that will trigger conflict in the country.
“Be very responsible in your reportage and there should be a balance between your reportage and quest for recognition. Remember that you must have a country to call your own, don’t write a story that the country will burn down”, Onwubiko emphasized.
He commended the Chief of Army Staff, Lieut. Gen. Tukur Buratai, for responding to the Freedom of Information request made by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), requesting to know how much has been spent in fighting Boko haram.
In his presentation, a Security Analyst and Editor-in-chief, Global Sentinel, Senator Iroegbu, who spoke on the Nigerian military and media relation for national Security, emphasized the need for the media to have partnership with security agencies and to ensure it does not indulge in anything that may compromise the security or military operations and indeed national security.
He, further noted that, achieving national security can be pursued through continued engagement, fora involving the media executives and officers of the military, as well as journalists, followed by sustained and continued training programmes for defence correspondents on coverage of the military.
According to him, “The media should seek partnership with the security agencies both as a social responsibility obligation and patriotic duty than a favour to the agencies. Social media is a strong factor that must be considered in dealing with the media-military relations”.
He, stressed the need to encourage proactive, friendly and acceptable military relations and engagement, for mutual institutional and national interest, adding that ways must be evolved to give media access to unclassified information, about the military.
“This is very necessary as the military needs to show greater regards for the right of the media to as much information as possible, in good time and in the interest of the public”, said Iroegbu. “This will provide platforms for them to be led into the workings of the military, its organisation, capability, sensibility, protocols and how the media can seek and get information from the military”.
The Analyst, emphasized that the perception of the military as an appendage of incumbent political rulers or parties must be changed, adding that the neutrality of the military in political space should be a goal that must be championed together with the media.
For his part, the former Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Texas Chukwu, stated, that the boko haram insurgency as well as other crimes in the country, have brought together the military, media and the public, adding that this is the time the military and media must collaborate as well as understand themselves.
“We in the military we don’t like wrong reportage concerning the organisation, we like the truth and if you want to report about the military, let it be exactly what happened that you should report but if you don’t find out from any military personnel and you go ahead and report then it is not right”, he explained.
He added that the media is doing a fantastic job but some times, they lack the patience to listen and get the outcome of an operation before filing a story.
Speaking further, a Defence and Security Consultant and Former Director, Public Relations, Nigerian Air Force, Group Captain Sadique Shehu Rtd, stressed on the need for the media to engage in self-censorship, noting however, that the media can harm the military and the military can harm the media.
In his words, “I want us to work towards self-censorship rather than military imposed censorship because both the media and the military, they are working to build a better society but, the media needs to know how the military operates, as well as what the military means when it says operation-security”.
While stressing that the military public relation officers have the duty to learn how the media operates, he urged the media on the other hand to remain professional and fair, and also have a balance between the public right to know, what they should know and when they should know it.