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‘Media, Military Relations Can Be Enhanced In Conflict Reporting’

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Rtd. Brig. General Sani Usman has enumerated ways relationship between the military and the media can be improved in conflict reporting.
Usman, who was the Director, Army Public Relations between 2015 to 2019, made this known at a two-day Capacity Building Workshop on Conflict Reporting for Journalists in Abuja.
The programme was organised by Konrad–Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in conjunction with the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ).
The retired general noted that over time, the media-military relations in the country had always been characterised by mutual suspicion and lack of understanding.
“The suspicion against the media is not out of place because they tend to report sensationally, oblivious of the impact and consequences of their action, thus jeopardising military operations, compromising national security, or even the lives of troops and citizens.
“For instance, on December 30th, 2018, a newspaper carried a story on planned military operations against Boko Haram terrorists in Baga, Borno State,” he said.
According to him, this explains why the Nigerian military service media/public relations departments strive to professionalise and strengthen their media relations practice.
These, he said, were geared towards fostering better relations between the military institution and the media.
Usman said to bridge the gap between the military and the media, two strategic approaches could be adopted.
“The first is to build a consensus between the military and the media on what constitutes conflict resolution and how it can be achieved.
“This can be pursued through continued engagement involving media executives and military officers.
“The second is a sustained and continuous training programme for defence correspondents on coverage of conflicts and military operations.
“This would provide an opportunity to understand the workings of the military, its organisation, capabilities, challenges, sensibilities, protocols and how the media can seek and get information from the military in a conflict environment,” he said.
The retired general, who called on the military to be more open, urged the media to be more trusting.
He also advised the media to exercise discretional self-censorship, crosscheck stories before broadcast, publishing or dissemination.
“There should be more comprehensive approach to warfare and military operations by embedding press in military operations.
“The media should do more of investigative journalism rather than reporting as breaking news. Background information is essential.
“There is a need for a National Media and Information Literacy Policy in Nigeria to enhance media performance,” he suggested.
Usman urged the government and the media to be partners in pursuing national security and national interest.
Commandant, Peace and Conflict Management Department, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Mr David Ojelabi, said “war and violence rarely answer anything–but when they happen, journalists and other media staff have a crucial role in cutting through the fog of deception, lies and manipulation of information that inevitably follows.”
He said the task of media practitioners was to show the impact on the lives of ordinary people.
The Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, said “journalists, media professionals and associated personnel engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered as civilians and shall be respected and protected as such, provided that they take no action adversely affecting their status as civilians.”

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Cleric Wants Review Of Retirement Age For Civil Servants To 70

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Rev. Fr. Godfrey Gopep, Parish Priest of St. Finbarr’s Catholic Church, Rayfield, Jos, has appealed to the Federal Government to review the retirement age for civil servants from 60 to 70 years.
Gopep made the plea in his sermon yesterday in Jos, adding that such move would address some of the challenges that retirees in the country were currently facing.
The cleric, who decried the rising spate of unemployment in the country, added that the move would also reduce incidences of falsification of age by people in order to be employed.
He added that it would also enable those who would be employed late to enjoy some good years in service before retiring.
“Because of scarcity of jobs and high rate of unemployment in the country, most people get to be employed are in their 40s.
“So, I want to call on the Federal Government to review the retirement age of civil servants from 60 to 70 years.
“If this is done, those who get employed a bit late can also have a enough time to contribute their quota to the development of the nation.
“It will also curtail the act where people have to reduce their ages just so that they can get employed and also spend some good years in service,” he said.
Gopep called on government at all levels to create job opportunities in the country and an enabling environment for private sector to thrive so as to create jobs as well.

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Lalong Seeks End To Divisive Actions Among Nigerians

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Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, yesterday urged Nigerians to shun divisive actions such as hate speeches and fake news for the peace and unity of the country.
The governor made the call at an interdenominational church service in Jos to mark the 61st Independence of Nigeria.
He said such acts were inimical to the nation’s progress, adding: “we must come together and solve our problems because no one can build Nigeria for us.’’
He said the country’s challenges, especially insecurity, would be overcome and urged Nigerians to be grateful for the country’s progress so far in spite of the challenges.
“God has indeed been faithful to Nigeria and we must be grateful,’’ he said.
Governor Lalong said also that Nigeria was blessed with abundant human and natural resources, but required unity, tolerance, sincerity, loyalty and patriotism to maximise such resources for its development.
According to him, commitment from the leadership and followership was critical to achieve the feat.
“There is no nation which is great today that has refused to embrace diversity, tolerance, excellence, good work ethics, and a national philosophy that is based on honesty, reward for hard work and punishment for deviance,’’ he said.
He added that Nigerians were known as a highly religious people which should be demonstrated by showing love to all irrespective of ethnic, religious or political differences.
“We must stop being religious and start being godly,’’ the governor stressed.
He noted that the security challenges were setbacks Plateau’s Progress and assured the people that he was determined to put an end to them while calling for the cooperation of residents especially religious and community leaders to achieve the objective.
“I call on you to play your part in securing your immediate community and giving prompt information to security agencies to be able to act appropriately,’’ he said.
He also called on Nigerians to intensify prayers and vigilance as security agencies and government worked towards defeating perpetrators and sponsors of crises.
Governor Lalong assured Plateau people that the Oct. 9 local council polls in the state would be conducted peacefully.
In his homily, the Deputy Chaplain of Government House Chapel, Rev. Ezekiel Dewan, admonished Nigerians to shun negative narratives as there is power in the tongue.
He called for prayers for God’s intervention and mercy on Plateau and on Nigeria, as God instructs his people to not only pray for their leaders, but also for the cities they live in.
Special prayers were conducted for leaders, governments and the nation at the service.

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Why I Shunned APGA Guber Campaign Flag-Off-Bianca Ojukwu

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Mrs Bianca Ojukwu said in Awka yesterday that she shunned Saturday’s flag-off of APGA governorship campaign to protest “post-mortem disrespect’’ to her deceased husband.
She laid the blame of the “post-mortem disrespect’’ to Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu on the doorstep of APGA’s leadership.
Prof. Chukwuma Soludo and Dr Ifeanyi Ibezim, APGA’s governorship and deputy governorship candidates, respectively, kick-started their 2021 campaign at on Saturday.
Bianca was conspicuously absent at the event unlike previous mega political activities held by APGA, a party that branded late Ojukwu as the spiritual leader of the party.
Another obvious sign which made some political observers note that there was serious crack in the party was the removal of Ojukwu’s image on the customised uniform of APGA worn by people at the event.
Some party faithful, however, wore the old uniform bearing the image of the Eze Igbo Gburugburu, Dim Ojukwu, to the event.
Bianca described as an affront, the treatments to her late husband by the present leadership of APGA.
“It is an irony that today Governor Willie Obiano has resuscitated Dim Ojukwu’s pictures for use in campaigning for the upcoming elections in Anambra.
“This is the height of opportunism and hypocrisy. Is Ojukwu not the same man Obiano once described as a dead man who was no longer relevant to the party?
“Why should I permit him to keep trampling on the legacy of my late husband who put his heart and soul into this party?
“Ojukwu should not be like a light switch to be turned on for party campaign, and turned off once the election is won,’’ she said.
The former Nigerian ambassador to Spain, expressed displeasure at the decision of APGA’s leadership to expunge her husband’s image from APGA uniform and other insignia of the party.
“It is most unfortunate that Gov. Obiano decided to remove the picture of Ojukwu and replace same with his picture just to drive home his statement that `he would no longer tie the fate and fortunes of APGA to the memory of a dead man’, obviously in reference to my husband,’’ Bianca said.
She listed other ill-treatments meted to her and the deceased husband and maintained that her presence at Saturday’s flag-off would have been an endorsement to the defrauding of scores of aspirants by the party during the party’s primary in the year 2018.
“It is unfortunate that the same APGA election managers that were responsible for the disastrous 2018 party primaries which resulted in severe damage to the party’s brand were also left to handle APGA’s campaign flag-off.
“Any political party that consistently robs its own members will not endure, APGA inclusive,’’ she noted.
She also lamented that the report of the Sen. Victor Umeh-led Peace and Reconciliation Committee that visited her in Enugu few weeks ago which pointed the way forward for APGA, had been discarded by the governor and the party leadership.
Bianca, however, indicated that she remained hopeful that in spite of APGA’s current travails that the party has a fair chance of producing the next governor of the state.
She described the party as presently constituted as a field of ‘sorrow’ for so many walking wounded…from aggrieved aspirants, party members at the grassroots, as well as party stakeholders.
Reacting to Bianca’s charges, Mr C-Don Adinuba, Director Media, Soludo Governorship Campaign Organisation, said that the omission of Ojukwu’s image on APGA uniform was not a ploy to insult late Ojukwu and his family.
“It was a mistake by the person who handled the recent uniform the party printed,’’ he said.
Adinuba who is also Anambra Commissioner for Information said he was confident that Bianca had nothing against Prof. Soludo as APGA’s candidate.
“I am sure that in the next couple of days Bianca will join the campaign tour of Prof. Soludo,’’ he said.

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