AS a way of fostering harmonious working relationship with the media, Nigerian Army School of Public Relations and Information (NASPRI), has organised a three days workshop in Lagos recently to provide scholarly solutions to military – media relations in combating contemporary security challenges.
Vested with the responsibility of meeting the robust military Public Relations manpower need for the Army in particular and the military by extension, NASPRI has continue to train and retrain military information officers who are at the vanguard of information management in various theatres of operations both at the domestic and international levels on how to handle their media relations effectively.
Participants at the just concluded workshop tagged “The Military and Media Relations: A panacea for National peace and security were student officers from NASPRI, Commanding Officers and Defence Correspondents.
The workshop which brought erudite scholars, from the media, academics and senior retired military information experts as lecturers was aimed at bridging the gap, the age long distrust and suspicion between the military and the media in order to create a synergy that would ensure absolute peace and security of this country.
Reputed for its professionalism and profound victories in peace keeping operation world over, the Nigeria Military has over the years come under heavy criticism both in the international and local media recently due to what analysts described as its poor relationship with the conventional media and ineffective management of the social media.
This is coming on the heels of insecurity in the Northern part of the country, where the Nigerian Military engages in a guerrilla war with Boko Haram Terrorists group and have performed extraordinary well to reclaim the claimed territories by insurgents and ensure the continued protection of our territorial integrity.
In recent past, the war of attrition between the military and the media industry put the two noble profession at daggers head. But the ingenuity and professionalism of the jet-age Military officers and soldiers which uphold the tenets of press freedom have eroded that distrust, suspicion and unwarranted antagonism between the two inseparable friends and enshrined mutual understanding, tolerance and respect for each other’s constitutional responsibility.
In a welcome address at the occasion, the Commandant NASPRI, Colonel J.A. Agim said, he is very confident that the forum will further cement the cordiality between the two institutions that are key stakeholders in combating the current security menace.
“This workshop comes at a better time fundamentally due to the nature and scope of media influence which has the capability of turning failure to success.
“The emerging trends in international and local politics as well as security challenges being experienced by armies around the world and the Nigerian Army in particular necessitates the need for training and re-training of military information officers on media handling procedures.
“This in the long run would meet and bridge the ever challenging public relations practice in contemporary times. Our aim at the inception of the School was to rejuvenate the Public Relations Team.”
Adding he said, “As we approach 2015, the election year, Nigerians are already waiting to see how prepared we are to assist the country towards achieving success in the upcoming elections and this workshop would go a long way to guarantee them of our preparedness to achieving that. We will continue to do this in collaboration with other security agencies and the media as we approach 2015 and beyond.”
Colonel Agim further implores the media to strictly adhere to the ethics of journalism saying that, if the military is projected to show it cannot maintain security in the land, then, the investors are not likely to come and invest in our country for the fear of their safety.
Warning that “a man who advertises the madness of his brother will soon understand the consequence when his own son is refused a wife because of the brother’s madness.”
He thank the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen KTJ Minimah, and the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Olajide Laleye and the Special Guest of Honour, Maj Gen T.I Dibi, General Officer Commanding 81 Division, Nigerian Army for their continued support towards conducting this and other programmes of the school.
Meanwhile, the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Olajide Laleye remarked that, the world has become a global village, hence the need to move with global trend.
“I am sure you are quite familiar with the phrase; best global practices. So, we must aim at tailoring our media workshop in line with best global practices. It is also our desire that at due and of this workshop you will be in the vantage position to inform your other colleagues who might not be opportune to be here.”
Adding that “our aim for the Defence Correspondents is that after the workshop, the participants must have added value to their defence reportage. In other words, our defence reporters will be well tutored on how to report military matters.” he said.
Also speaking, the Special Guest of Honour, Maj Gen T.I Dibi, General Officer Commanding 81 Division, Nigerian Army said The role of Public Relations in our day–to–day activities, especially in the area of fostering and sustaining lasting understanding in relationship between individuals, organisations and nations could be perceived to have assumed great importance when viewed against world events.
He posited that, taking a look from the prism of globalization, today, we have witnessed political ideas and systems, long held as indubitable give way to new and more liberal ideas and systems which allow for free interaction of individuals
Many participants at the event commended the military for organising the workshop describing it as ‘timely’ looking at the negative image perception Nigeria is getting from the media as the military battles insurgency.