Editors canvass support for soldiers to defeat Boko Haram
Senior Nigerian Editors have urged journalists to support troops in the North East through positive reportage of the war against the Boko Haram insurgents.
The Editors made the call in Maiduguri on Wednesday in an interview with newsmen after a one-day guided tour of some of the insurgency-ravaged areas of Borno State.
They spoke after a visit to Pulka and Mafa Local Government Areas in Borno North.
Ismail Omipidan, an Assistant Editor with the Sun newspapers, stressed the need for journalists to change the narrative in the way they report the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists.
Omipidan said what the Nigerian troops deserved from the media was understanding, not condemnation and encouragement.
He said: “I think the media must understand the fact that terrorism thrives with propaganda and that was why the Boko Haram war lasted the number of years it has lasted.
“But thank God that in the last one and half years, the military has been coming forth with information.
“While I am not trying to do propaganda for the military, we should at least report facts as they are and in reporting the facts, we must be conscious of the security implications and national security.
“For example, there are certain reports that naturally demoralise the soldiers.
“Do we want to demoralise our soldiers in the face of this war or we want to encourage them?
“If we want to encourage them, then we must be conscious of the type of reports we file so as not to discourage our soldiers in the war front.
“They deserve all the support, they deserve all the sympathy they need to win the war.”
Omipidan said he had visited Maiduguri in the past, adding: “I know what it was before and I know what it is today.
“I want to say with all sense of modesty that our soldiers deserve our sympathy, sympathy in the way we report their activities.”
Alhaji Lawal Ado, the Editor-In-Chief of the News Agency of Nigeria, who was also on the tour, called on journalists to be patriotic in reporting the fight involving the country”s armed forces.
Lawal said this was necessary as Nigerians, including the media practitioners, had no other country than Nigeria.
He said: “I would say that what I have seen had really educated me on the kind of challenges the military is facing and it has also educated me on the efforts they have made so far.
“It is not easy to fight a war with an enemy you do not know or you do not see that can confront you headlong.”
According to Abdulrahman Abdulrauf, the Editor Blueprint newspapers, the tour was an eye opener.
Abdulrauf said: “I want to say that these guys, the military, have done pretty well.
“You do not have a mindset on that thing you do not have knowledge of.
“This trip has really changed my perception on the war against insurgency in the North East.
“Having gone to Mafa Local Government Area, I begin to have a mental picture of what happened that time – the heat of insurgency.
“I think it is important as journalists that we should endeavour to give this people, I mean the military, the necessary support.
“It is appalling, it is gruesome when you hear stories of soldiers being slaughtered by these hoodlums, criminals (terrorists), it is dehumanising.
“It is for us as journalists now to ensure that whatever this human rights people – Amnesty International – say, they cannot love this country Nigeria more than us.
“We have a responsibility to protect this country and the time to do that is now.”
For Babajide Otitoju of TV Continental, the military had made “tremendous progress in the efforts to defeat this extremely dangerous enemy”.
Otitoju noted that peace had been restored to Maiduguri and its environs, adding that he was confident that the troops would sustain and improve on the ground they had so far gained in the war.
He said: “Our soldiers are doing their best.
“I am impressed with the way they sustain the gains made in 2015 before the elections, when most of the big towns were recaptured.
“I am impressed that those big towns have remained with the Nigerian troops.
“They are sacrificing for you and I to be able to sleep and sleep with both eyes closed.
“We can only continue to pray for them that God will continue to strengthen them and give them victory in the end.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the editors’ first port of call in Maiduguri was the headquarters of the Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole, designed to deal with the insurgency, at Maimalari Cantonment.
They were briefed by the Commander of the theatre, Major General Lucky Irabor, on the activities, successes and challenges of the command since it was inaugurated in 2015.