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FG Demands Commitment Of The Mass Media In The Nation Building Process

By Ayo Balogun

The Federal Government (FG) has called on the media houses to lend their unflinching support in the nation building task as well as always act in the National interest.

Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made the call Wednesday in Lagos, at a meeting with the Newspapers’ Editors.

While affirming the role of the Media in confronting many challenges facing the country, the Minister noted that the topmost challenge facing Nigeria now was the issue of security. He declared “no nation’s economy can thrive in an atmosphere of insecurity” and added this explained why the welfare and security of the citizenry constitute the basis for the existence of any government, as well as one of the key policies of the present Administration.

He restated “The biggest security challenge we face as a nation today is the Boko Haram insurgency, which has left thousands dead and injured, displaced over 2 million people and crippled the North-east, both economically and socially, with a ripple effect that is felt across the nation”.

Alhaji Mohammed who stressed that President Muhammadu Buhari hit the ground running, after assuming office in May this year; one of the signposts of which he mentioned were relocation of the Military Command from Abuja to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital; the re-capturing of towns and communities formerly occupied by the Boko Haram insurgents and displacing of the terrorists from their various base.

While admitting that the media houses must remain professional at all times, the Minister submitted that, the practitioners could not afford “to be neutral”, therefore the FG could not ask the Nation’s media industry “to do anything less, but you must also act in the national interest always”.

“Acting in the national interest means not playing up the reports of the cowardly Boko Haram attacks on soft targets. Acting in the national interest means not regurgitating the propaganda of Boko Haram and its fellow terrorist group, ISIS. Acting in the national interest means extolling the bravery and sacrifice of our gallant troops. Acting in the national interest means not viewing the war from a partisan prism. Acting in the national interest means rallying all Nigerians, irrespective of their political, religious or ethnic background, to support the war. It is not a war of the North. It is not a war of any religion. It is our war” Alhaji Mohammed asserted.

He also noted that Boko Haram and ISIS have launched their propaganda seeking to discredit the Nigerian military, so as to give the impression that they (terrorists) were still holding sway; a report in the same regard he recalled was recently published in one of newspapers.

“This is not true. Boko Haram is dispersed and largely defeated. The insurgents are hungry, they are sick and they are desparate and will clutch at any straw. Don’t let us prop them up with our reports. In the days ahead, they will release propaganda videos through their usual channels, we must not give this any play because it is nothing but a hoax.

“And, as we report on the Dec. 31st headline, let us situate our reports in the context that I have provided: The military has largely met the deadline and are now involved in mop-up and humanitarian operations, the attacks on soft targets will not end with the deadline, but it will taper off gradually, in line with the nature of insurgency worldwide. These attacks do not constitute victory for the insurgents but represent the death pangs of a fading insurgency” the Minister contended.

Alhaji Mohammed reiterated that the country needed peace to allow smooth Mass Media practice. He added: “We need peace before we can meaningfully revive our economy. We need peace for our democracy to thrive. Boko Haram is the very antithesis of peace. Boko Haram must be wiped out not just through military might but with the support and efforts of all of us”.

The Minister who announced that his Ministry has commenced a national security campaign to raise awareness among Nigerians about the war and about the sacrifice of troops, informed that in order to keep the media better informed about the war, so that they could also better inform Nigerians; his office would soon inaugurate an ad hoc committee comprising media representatives as well as representatives of the military and intelligence agencies.

The committee, Alhaji Mohammed disclosed would meet from time to time for background briefings that would give the media a better perspective of the war.

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