By OLATOKUNBO ADESANYA
Globally, the media has been acknowledged as veritable partners in nation building and military campaigns, in particular. As a matter of fact, it is only the undiscerning that would attempt to denigrate the significance of the media. In Nigeria as well, there is no gainsaying the fact that the media has been a relevant stakeholder in national development and military operations. With my focus expectedly on the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), it is acknowledged that the media plays a vital role in military campaigns, especially air operations. It thus goes without saying that the media and the NAF, both as stakeholders in national development, are partners. With my recent appointment as the NAF Spokesman, I considered it necessary to briefly discuss the NAF’s expectations of the media, as we all forge ahead to ensure continued peace and prosperity in Nigeria.
In the past few years, the major preoccupation of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, including the NAF, has been the battle against insurgency in the Northeast as well as combatting other forms of criminalities in the country. It is gladdening to note that the ability of the Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) to operate freely has now been seriously degraded. Consequently, the military is, at the moment, basically engaged in clearance operations to flush out the remnants of the BHTs. The NAF has, in the past few months, intensified Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions in the Northeast Region to ensure that the BHTs do not regroup to become a formidable force again. Accordingly, attempts by the infamous BHT Organization to rebuild its structures have been severally thwarted by the NAF, with the aid of its fighter aircraft and newly acquired helicopter gunships.
The NAF is a highly professional Service that is focused on ensuring the territorial integrity of Nigeria as well as facilitating a safe and secure environment for Nigerians to prosper while conducting their legal businesses. The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar, believes strongly that, while pursuing its constitutional mandate, the NAF must remain accountable to all Nigerians, in line with the philosophy of Mr President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhamadu Buhari. Accordingly, the NAF has created social media platforms with which it keeps the general populace informed of its activities in a timely manner. The NAF also uses the social media platforms to receive feedbacks from ordinary Nigerians towards policy formulation and review, where necessary. After all, of what use are the NAF’s activities and achievements, if they do not meet the aspirations of the majority of Nigerians?
The NAF, of course, accepts that the reach of its social media platforms, is limited and hence, the need to rely on electronic, print and online media organizations to further disseminate information on its activities. It is in this regard that the NAF would sustain the practice of inviting accredited Defence correspondents for press coverage of its events. In addition, the NAF would continue to provide timely information to various recognized media organizations with the expectation that they, as partners in progress, would broadcast to the general public in an equally timely manner. The current NAF leadership constantly strives to promote transparency and has therefore directed that all avenues be made open for media practitioners to clarify news about the NAF before disseminating. Media practitioners are thus encouraged to make use of the various available platforms to interact with the NAF towards ensuring that Nigerians are always deservedly informed and not misinformed.
It is considered important to note that the focus of all Nigerians, irrespective of inclination, should always be the promotion of our national interests. Members of the NAF strive for perfection in the course of their duties but as human beings, that aspiration would always be work in progress. Therefore, the NAF, like every other organization, cannot and does not lay claims to perfection. As the NAF, together with the other sister Services, intensifies efforts to completely rid Nigeria of the remnants of BHTs as well as other subversive and criminal elements, it expects the media to continue emphasizing and celebrating its many successes and victories while placing less emphasis on its imperfections. This would not only encourage our fighting troops whose many sacrifices on a daily basis are largely unknown but also demoralize the BHTs and others who are sworn adversaries of Nigeria. God bless Nigeria!
-Air Commodore Adesanya, is the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information