Below is the full text of the lecture delivered by Brig Gen Rabe Abubakar.
MEDIA-MILITARY RELATIONSHIP IN THE FIGHT AGAINST INSURGENCY IN NIGERIA
Being the paper delivered by the Director of Defense Information, BRIG GEN RABE ABUBAKAR at the seminar organized by the Correspondents Chapel, Nigeria Union of Journalists, FCT Chapter on 16 August, 2016.
Let me begin by thanking the organizers of this seminar for inviting me to make a paper presentation at this event. You will all agree with me that this seminar is coming at a very auspicious time when the country is assiduously prosecuting a battle against terrorism and at the same time engaged in other forms of internal security operations in different parts of the country. I believe therefore that this seminar is apt and worth investing our time, energy and expertise on
Permit me at this juncture, ladies and gentlemen, to once again felicitate with the members of the Correspondents Chapel, Nigeria Union of Journalists, FCT Chapter, on whose behest I am here today to speak on the topic: ‘The Impact of the Media in Conflict Management’. I am convinced that the choice of this topic is compelled by the understanding of the indispensability of a healthy and functional relationship between the military and media not only in the fight against insurgency but in every military operation
There is no gain saying that as a force multiplier, the Nigerian media has the capability of galvanizing public support for the security forces; this capability can significantly boost the morale and increase the combat readiness of the forces and thus enhancing the probability of successful mission accomplishment. This brings me to the aim of this paper presentation which is:
The aim of this paper is to discuss the media-military relationship in the fight against insurgency in Nigeria
This presentation will cover the following
a. the history of conflict in Nigeria.
b. The relationship between the media, the military and the public.
c. The Role of Media in Conflict Resolution.
d. Laws that guarantees military participation in Internal Security (IS) Operation.
e. The rise of Boko Haram and Global Terrorism.
HISTORY OF CONFLICT IN NIGERIA
An excursion into the trajectory of conflicts in post-independence Nigeria will reveal that indeed the country has had its fair share of serious crisis that threatened its unity and corporate existence. Writing in the 2011 edition of the Nigerian Defense Magazine, Chidi Omeje opined that “With a complexity defined by the multiplicity of ethnic, religious, cultural and geo-political diversity, Nigeria has more often than not embroiled in internal conflicts and crisis that potently threatened her national security”.
CHARACTER OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE MILITARY AND THE MEDIA
The Nigerian military and the media have a long history. In fact, their relationship is one of the critical dimensions of civil-military relations. This fact is underpinned by the fact that both institutions – media and the military- are significantly indispensable in the progressive running of any society. They indeed play different roles and might see things from different point of view but 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.
THE ROLE OF MEDIA IN CONFLICT RESOLUTION
Conflicts start in the minds of men. It is therefore important to know how they get into the minds of men. Large scale conflicts mostly occur as a result of dissatisfaction among people emanating from divergent views and experience. The images were created and spread by the media. Media play a crucial role in the escalation of conflicts. They can also play a crucial role in taming conflicts if we want them to do so. The positive role of media should be centered on how the media can make a constructive contribution to conflict prevention, how they can detect violence at an early stage and monitor peace agreements, and how they can increase social cohesion and thus contribute to reconciliation. A large degree of social cohesion, which would not exclude any minority group, would at the same time be the best prevention of future conflict.
“During national crisis, all media privileges and rights ceased to exist”. He further said; “All efforts should be geared towards solving national crisis like the one we are having”.
LAWS THAT GUARANTEES MILITARY ENGAGEMENT IN INTERNAL SECURITY OPERATION (ISO)
The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria which provides for the military in its section 217 makes it clear that the duties of the military, that is the Army, Navy and Air-force will be to defend Nigeria from external aggression, maintain its territorial integrity and securing its borders from isolation on land, sea or air, suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of National Assembly. The military is also to perform such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly. Although the main functions of the military is to protect the nation against external aggression or threats, occasionally the military may be required to assist the civil authorities to deal with internal violence and suppress internal tension
In Nigeria, the supreme law of the land which is the Constitution empowers the President to use federal forces to combat domestic disturbances. These disturbances only serve as threats to the rights of some individuals or groups in some particular areas of the nation; these are not threats to the national security. Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution is to the effect that the military under the directive of the president can act in the aid of civil authorities to restore law and order.
Boko Haram is a jihadist insurgent organization that is believed to have emanated in Kanama in 2002 under the leadership of Mohammed Ali and later Mohammed Yusuf. The Sect leader set up a religious complex, which included a Mosque and an Islamic school where many poor Muslim families from across Nigeria, as well as neighbouring countries, enrolled their children. The sect initially focused on opposing western education against which all its teachings were channelled. Its interest later manifested into a political goal, which was to create an Islamic state and establish Sharia law in Nigeria. The Islamic school thus became a recruiting ground for the jihadists.
In its resolve to achieve its goals, the sect clashed on several occasions with the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) in 2009. The rebellion of 2009 marked the beginning of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. The rebellion was crushed by troops, its principal Mosque was destroyed while its leader and other members were arrested. Mohammed Yusuf and other members of the sect died in the process. Consequently, the BHT went underground and re-emerged in 2010 under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau. The Sect then launched attacks on officers and stations of the Nigeria Police and military barracks in revenge for the killings of Yusuf and his comrades. The group then went underground and was not well monitored.
ENHANCING MEDIA RELATIONS IN ISO/LIC
“communicating and building relationship with the media and other third parties is the work of Public Relations Professionals. It should not be surprising therefore that Public Relation industry is taking the lead in examining ways to better understand the relationship between performance and perception”.
From the foregoing, we have been able to establish the fact that media-military relationship is very important in the fight against insurgency in Nigeria and elsewhere. The Nigerian military is diligently prosecuting the war against insurgency in line with its constitutional mandate to defend the country. However, the military cannot do much without the valued support of critical institutions of society like the media.
The overriding need to rid the country of every vestige of terrorism will be better and faster achieved when all men and women of goodwill join hands and speak with one voice. We are particularly encouraged that all in all, the Nigeria media has been a very worthy and courageous partner in the fight against terror in Nigeria. I urge you all to remain steadfast and keep supporting the military until victory is assured.
Thank you for listening