The media must reflect FG’s new resolve to decisively tackle Boko Haram —Lai Mohammed

Posted by News Express | 24 July 2015 | 3,528 times

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The message from the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) conveying the Award of the Fellow of NUJ to me said, inter alia: “This recognition is because of your contributions to the profession of Journalism and its advancement.”

Well, whatever modest contributions I have made in this regard would not have been possible without the support and cooperation of the media. Simply put, I have enjoyed an unalloyed support and unparalleled cooperation from the media in carrying out my duties, first as the long-time spokesman for the opposition and now, as the spokesman the ruling party.

Therefore, in accepting the Award, I want to dedicate it to the Nigerian media for their role not only in strengthening our democracy but also in the recent historic and successful transition from a ruling party to the opposition.

It is not for fun that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria specifically mentioned, in Chapter 11 sub-section 22, that: “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.”

In essence, the media are widely acclaimed as the watchdog of the society, of democracy and indeed of the entire political process.

I make bold to say that the Nigerian media have performed their constitutionally-assigned role creditably, despite tough challenges and a few setbacks here and there.

The media must, however, not rest on their oars, especially at this time that our nation faces huge challenges in almost all sectors. It is no longer news that the Buhari Administration inherited a near comatose economy, dilapidated infrastructure, massive corruption and a high level of insecurity, exacerbated by the six-year terror campaign in North-East Nigeria.

As President Muhammadu Buhari has consistently said, it is important for the nation to decisively tackle the scourge of insecurity, without which all other efforts to turn around the fortunes of the country for good will not yield the expected results.

That is why I want to use this important platform provided by the NUJ – a professional media organisation aiming to connect journalists nationwide with the information and opportunities they need to advance professionally and improve media in Nigeria – to appeal to the media to reflect, in their reporting, the seriousness with which the new administration is approaching the Boko Haram insurgency.

It is not just enough for the media to daily chronicle the attacks and the death tolls therefrom, they must also contextualise such reporting. In other words, whereas there appears to have been a spike in Boko Haram attacks in recent times, what is indeed happening is that the terrorists have been forced to change tactics, because they have been weakened and put on the run.

Lone wolf suicide bombings and the choice of soft targets by retreating Boko Haram members are now the order of the day, as against the terrorists’ previous coordinated actions of seizing and holding territories. Today, not a single local government in Nigeria is under the control of Boko Haram, unlike in the recent past when they held a huge swath of territory, installed their own emirs and even collected taxes.

This is not an accident. It is a result of the more methodical and focused approach of the present administration to the anti-terror fight, which includes the tightening of security at border locations that has made it difficult for the terrorists to manoeuvre. This approach is a far cry from the previous haphazard activities.

Also, the necessary structures for the effective coordination of the battle against the terrorists have been put in place both within and outside the country, thanks to the regional rallying efforts of the Buhari Administration. Vital international input and support have become more real and are adding value to the counter-terrorism campaign. To cap these efforts, the Nigeria-led, Chad-based Multi-National Joint Task Force will be deployed by the end of this month. It is therefore a matter of time for Boko Haram to be defeated. This monster cannot and will not survive.

Because of the influence of the mass media on public perception, they play a great role in molding public opinion, and in turn, public opinion can have a very great influence on the making and perception of policy.

That is why legendary Prime Minister of the UK Winston Churchill said: “There is no such thing as public opinion, there is only published opinion.” Also, in recognition of the importance of public opinion, former US President Abraham Lincoln said: “Public opinion in this country is everything.”

If the media shape public opinion, and public opinion is vital to policy making and execution, it follows, therefore, that the role of the media in any society cannot and must not be underestimated.

It is in this light that I am appealing to the Nigerian media, in carrying out their basic functions of providing news and information, entertainment and education, to be more circumspect.

Such prudence can most be seen, at this time, in the media’s reporting of the anti-terror campaign. Nigeria’s war against terror is no longer business as usual, and this must reflect in the daily reporting of the events in the North-East, which is at the epicentre of terrorism.

Far from the daily screaming and scary headlines of mass killing and bloodshed that may inadvertently raise the morale of the terrorists arrayed against the Nigerian nation, the Boko Haram is weakened and is on the run. Let us endeavour to reflect this fact in our reporting.

Being remarks made by the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Lai Mohammed (shown in photo), while receiving the Award of Fellow of NUJ . . . yesterday in Abuja.

Source: News Express

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