Friday, July 29, 2016

Security Challenges Threaten Nigeria’s Unity, Says Chief of Defence Staff

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, on Thursday reviewed the security challenges facing the country and warned that unless they were carefully managed, they might disintegrate the nation.

“These challenges singly and collectively have the grim potential to undermine the Nigerian State,” the defence chief said, warning that: “These are very potent and sensitive crisis situations that have the capacity to wreck our ship of state, if not handled with utmost care and professionalism that they deserve.”


Consequently, Olonisakin called for patriotic commitment from all stakeholders for the unity, peace and security of the country.



The defence chief spoke at the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Abuja, during the One-Day Defence Correspondents’ Seminar titled: “Constructive Reportage as an Important Ingredient for National Security”.

He said that the media and military were two of the most important stakeholders in projecting, promoting and protecting national security.

According to him, it is incumbent on all the stakeholders in the national security and allied sectors to assist defence media practitioners to build human and institutional capacity to facilitate effective performance and goal attainment, especially on issues that affect national security of Nigeria.

“It is important from the onset to state that although, we play different roles and may see things from different perspectives, we all must be responsive as stakeholders in the overriding task of nation building,” he said.

Olonisakin noted that in a developing nation like Nigeria, which is engulfed by a dynamic flux of security challenges, the media is required to build bridges of understanding between the military and the people in the discharge of its national security mandate.

He emphasised that as professionals, the two parties are expected to have a clear understanding of the challenges confronting the country, which include pastoralist/farmers’ clashes, cattle rustling, kidnapping, militancy, vandalism of Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) particularly oil facilities, ethnic nationalism, terrorism and insurgency.

He said: “These challenges singly and collectively, have the grim potential to undermine the Nigerian State. These are very potent and sensitive crisis situations that have the capacity to wreck our ship of state, if not handled with utmost care and professionalism that they deserve.

“To prevent this, the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) has been called upon to provide Military Assistance to Civil Authority (MACA) in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).”
“In the past one year, the AFN has made remarkable progress in the provision of security across the nation. In particular, I can proudly state that the patriotic and gallant efforts of our troops in alliance with other key players, downgraded the Boko Haram terrorists in the North-east.

“However, the security situation in Nigeria is still rather fluid and calls for the patriotic commitment of all institutions and citizens, governmental and non-governmental organisations,” he added.

In the same vein, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said that what remains is for the civilian populace to rise up to the security situation in the country by mobilising support for the military and other security agencies.

Mohammed, who was represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Ayotunde Adesugba, said that the relevant stakeholders should be able to keep the public abreast of other developments in the security sectors, which they “are currently demonstrating through the ‘winning hearts and minds’ projects”.

“To achieve this, 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,” he said.

Earlier, the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Rabe Abubakar, said that the seminar would serve as a platform for enhancing a robust cooperation, understanding and partnership between the AFN and the media practitioners “especially at this critical time of security challenges facing our dear nation”.

Also, the communique issued at the end of the seminar recommended among other things that Defence correspondents and military information managers need regular training to improve capacity in defence reportage; experienced reporters should be assigned to Defence and security beat; and that military information managers should give timely access to information to Defence correspondents.

The communique further called for “enhanced interpersonal relationship between military information managers and Defence correspondents; the Defence correspondents are encouraged to do more investigative reports; adding that there is need for confidence building and trust between military information managers and Defence correspondents.

“Need to engage in official and unofficial communication with Defence correspondents to agree on what to report and what not to report; military information managers should de-emphasise the recurrent preference for foreign media outfits in Defence/security-related matters; and there should be transparency and openness in the management of information on military operations.

“That Defence correspondents should report all military operations with a sense of responsibility and patriotism to promote national security; and the military should devise strategy to honour officers and men who paid the supreme price in defence of the fatherland”.

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