By Ahuraka Isah, and Tunde Oguntola, Abuja
National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Mungono (rtd) yesterday said insurgents at the heart of every threat, including terrorism, is a dangerous communication objective, which the enemy tries to put across.
Monguno stated this at the opening of two-day workshop organised by the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) in collaboration with the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) for the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) Strategic Communication Liaison Officers and some selected journalists.
NSA noted that the “main objective has been to synchronise government communication, address our audiences, craft the right messages that will support our strategic narratives and ultimately, communicate our values in words and deeds while deconstructing the negative message of individuals and groups who seek to divide us and challenge our one, indivisible, democratic and progressive nation”.
Monguno who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Special Services Office, Amb. Aminu Nabegu, also stressed that “the nexus between strategic communication and national security is deeply rooted”.
He noted that the terrorist groups from Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and ISIS use communication to propagate and sustain their violent ideology.
These groups, he said, are adept at the use of fear appeals and terrorist acts to communicate and always be on the news, unfortunately because the news media have a responsibility to report, our news channels are replete with the negative news of terror and conflicts.
“Government therefore struggles daily on how best to communicate effectively in order to counter these narratives.”
Meanwhile the minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has stated federal government has recruited and trained competent information officers that now possess requisite skills to fish out and tackle the prevalent cases of “fake news” on social and traditional media.
According to Mohammed, technological advances have redefined the media landscape and the way Information Officers communicate government activities to the public.
“As a result, the ministry is leveraging on various Social Media platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype, Twitter and Instagram, just to mention a few, to reach our audiences, especially the youths. These Social Media platforms also provide unique opportunity for the Ministry to aggregate and gauge public opinions and perceptions of government. Also, we developed short videos on government activities and share on our You-Tube channels which are operated by our Information Officers.
“It is relevant to mention that on 15 December 2016, we launched a Federal Government Information APP as part of strategic communications activities to bridge communication gap and bring our people a click away from government. The Resident Information Officers (RIOs) across MDAs generate content which are analysed and uploaded unto the Information APP on a daily basis.”
“Faced with the prevalence of fake news we took action by preparing Information Officers with the skills to identify and counter such fake news through engagement and counter narrative,” he added. Mohammed stressed that “Information Officers are assigned to monitor both online and offline news media to identify such fake news and develop timely and credible counter narratives to respond to such fake news,” Mohammed added.
According to the minister, the role of Information Officers in strengthening government communication is relevant to achieving national strategic objectives.
He noted that by the mandate of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, the ministry is to manage the image, reputation and promote the culture of the people and government of Nigeria through a dynamic public information system that facilitates access by the citizens and the global community to credible and timely information about our nation.
“Therefore, the role of Information Officers is to disseminate accurate and timely information about government policies, programmes and activities. This role ensures that our national image and message is communicated to audiences at home and abroad,” he said.
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