From Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, on Wednesday met with top media executives, editors and bureau chiefs of major media organisations in Abuja to solicit media support for the ongoing counterinsurgency, anti banditry and other security operations of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
The media parley, which took place at the conference room of the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), had as its theme: “Role of Media Executives and Editors in National Security and Conflict Sensitive Communication”.
In his address at the parley, Gen Irabor, noting the problem of insecurity in the country, said that the meeting has become necessary since the military and the media pursued a common goal of freedom and liberty, secure environment as well as looking forward to fulfilling individual desires and as a comity of nations.
He said the parley which is the first since he took over office, would help the armed forces and the media play their different roles in nation-building and contribute to creating the ambience for the socio-economic development of the nation.
‘All along, it is we versus them but I am hopeful that at the end of this parley today, you will no longer see yourself as we versus them, rather, will be an engagement about us and engagement about what binds us which is Nigeria,’ Gen Irabor stated.
‘Whatsoever influences one may have outside the shore either the territorial or space of Nigeria, we must begin to understand that you are the best person to keep Nigeria safe.
‘No one outside of this shores loves you better than you love yourself because you are the one that meets this challenge.’
Earlier in his welcome address, The Director, Defence Information, Major General Jimmy Akpor, while noting that the parley was conceptualised to build sustainable trust and confidence of the media as the military conduct its operations and engagements, said the CDS considered media executives as most worthy to interface with, considering their standing in the spectrum of the media space.
He said the media had the cardinal role to play in advancing the cause of national security, while the leadership of the armed forces viewed media executives, editors and bureau chiefs as critical stakeholders that could not be ignored.
The DDI said there is no gainsaying that the whole of society approach which the CDS have continued to advocate is a sure way to go in our commitment to overcoming various forms of security challenges confronting our nation.
‘This will therefore no doubt open a new vista of collaboration and understanding between the armed forces and the media as both parties will henceforth be in the same phase in matters of defence and national security.
‘At the end of the deliberations, media executives, editors, bureau chiefs are in a better position to set right the agenda for public discourse when the issues of national security and conflict-sensitive management are generating debate,’ he said.
Also speaking, The Chief Executive Officer, Media Today, Charles Odenigbo, said the interface would mark a new beginning for the military and media relationship in Nigeria.
‘The media is constantly looking for information backed by concrete evidence, concrete facts and they must be time-bound because time is the oxygen of the newsroom,’ Odenigbo said.
‘What role or any of what role can be media play in the governance of the security sector in Nigeria; what obstacle hinders the media’s ability to provide effective oversight of security institutions.’
He said a road map would be developed at the end of the parley for a clear understanding of the roles of the media in national security matters and conflict-sensitive communication.
According to him, between public interest and national interest, the editors or media would definitely have to contend with the code of ethics because the functions of the armed forces are very clear and the duties of the media are also very clear.