Nigerian Army interfaces with Bloggers, Online Journalists
This is a unique and wonderful Interactive Session between the Department of Civil Military Affairs of the Nigerian Army and Social Media Bloggers/Online Journalists organized by the Nigerian Army and Security Affairs Limited.

Let me start by thanking God for granting us safe journey from our various locations to Maiduguri, the venue of the North East Seminar. Let me also state that this seminar is a follow up on the successful outing we had on a similar subject in Port Harcourt in October last year. There is no doubt that this forum will again provide us the necessary and needed opportunity to freely interact, discuss, share ideas and rub minds particularly in the areas of Civil Military Relationship and Cooperation.

We acknowledge the fact that you all have very important roles to play in the development of Peace and Security in this country. It is very obvious that what you say, the way you say it and how it spreads have far reaching implications than most of us are aware of.

In this era of technology which has permeated every sphere of life, everything happening around the world has become available to all with just a click of the finger. Seated here in this room today are men and women who have the power to positively influence the security architecture of this great nation with the right desire particularly with the dominance of fake news and hate speeches. On its part, the Nigerian Army is always committed to Peace and Security and is ever ready to carry out its constitutional responsibilities.

There is a lot that the Nigerian Army is doing through the Department of Civil Military Affairs in winning the hearts and minds of the populace that most of us seated here are not aware of. The Nigerian Army is not unaware of the gap that existed in the past as a result of misconception, misinformation and the many years of the involvement of the military in politics did not help matters.

It is this desire to bridge the perceived gap of divide with the civil populace that necessitated the establishment of the Army Headquarters Department of Civil Military Affairs on 6 December 2010. Accordingly, the Department was established primarily to serve as an interface between the Nigerian Army and the civil populace.

Thus, most of the efforts of the Department have been geared towards promoting the image of the Nigerian Army through effective partnership and collaboration with relevant stakeholders such as you, the participants of this Seminar. Consequently, the Department has gained recognition amongst stakeholders while gradually correcting the negative perception about the Nigerian Army with the objective of gaining public confidence and trust.

As a respected organization, the Nigerian Army believes in touching the lives of the average citizens for the better. In the area of community outreaches through Quick Impact Projects, the Nigerian Army in last 4 years have carried out over 96 Civil Military Related Projects all aimed at bridging the gap with the civil populace and ensuring the Nigerian Army is seen in a positive light.

Traditionally, most of what the Nigerian Army is known for is just guns, wars and brutality or at best the negativity of a few of its erring personnel which is always over blown by the media.

I am sure some of you here might have had cause to publish one of such negative stories before. However, I make bold to say that such narratives are about to change because this interactive session will enable us form the necessary partnership that will create the required awareness of the activities of the Nigerian Army which you in turn will help spread out.

This will enable the world out there to see the positive side of what we also do.

We are very much aware of the power of the cyberspace. Modern wars are fought using the cyberspace and the social media acting as very dangerous weapons which has the capability of influencing and shaping the opinions of people thereby having a critical outcome in the battle being fought.

On that basis, I want to say we all have important roles to play in ensuring peace and security in this country through the spread of right information and correct narratives.

Presently, there are too many negative narratives about the security architecture of the country and efforts are on in addressing them by the Nigerian Army. A case in point is the fight against insurgency. One begins to wonder why it is easier for the media to celebrate the actions of the Boko Haram Terrorists (which in fact is like a drop in the ocean) as against the bold efforts of the Nigerian Army in taming and decimating these terrorists. This is changing gradually but there is still room for improvement.

The truth is, the Nigerian Army is making giant stride and having the upper hand in dealing with the terrorists and insurgents. But such efforts are always under reported.

We have celebrated the place of making headlines that will scare people rather than headlines to celebrate the gallantry efforts of our troops thereby giving confidence to the people. But I want to believe that all these will change from today as you begin to see the efforts of the Nigerian Army and the many successes it has recorded in the fight against insurgency and ensuring there is peace and security in the nation.

It is my believe that this interactive session will make us aware of all the corporate social responsibilities that the Nigerian Army has undertaken and is still undertaking to win the hearts and minds of the civil populace through its non-kinetic approaches of tackling various security challenges in the country.

It is therefore no mistake that the theme of this interactive session is “The Role of the Social Media in Civil Military Relations as a Non-Kinetic Tool for Enhanced Peace and Security in Nigeria”.

Major General Usman S Mohammed
Chief of Civil Military Affairs

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