It is an interactive session that will forever remain indelible in my memory. The meeting had in attendance major spokespersons of security and response agencies on one hand and media practitioners that have shown keen interest on covering and reporting security situations in the country.
As a representative of Journalists Against Disaster Initiative (JADI), I was glad to serve as one of the rapporteurs at the occasion. The event provided me an ample of opportunity of not just meeting cerebral media men, but had a one on one encounter with the big personality superintending over Nigeria’s intelligence community, in the person of Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) who is the chief host and guest speaker at the forum.
Apart from setting the tone for the healthy but tough debate between the media practitioners and security spokespersons over challenges of reporting security issues, Dasuki’s humble disposition completely changed my long held erroneous perception of our elite. He did not behave like those who see themselves as demigods and therefore have no single regards for common men.
Sincerely speaking, Dasuki proved incurable cynic like myself wrong that most political elite are snubs as many are wont us to believe. For an event that was slated for 10 am, the NSA had already reported earlier than the time only to meet a relatively empty meeting room. Surprisingly, Col Dasuki isn’t a typical example of a Nigerian “Big Man or Oga At the Top” who would have ordinarily called off the meeting. No, he never contemplated that, rather he returned to his office for a while to return later. Those meeting him for the first time were struck by his rare display of humility. Obviously, his resolve to have waited patiently for expected guests to arrive underscores his commitment and readiness to frontally address rising insurgency and other security challenges in some parts of the country, which he strongly believe the media have greater roles to play in building public confidence and boosting the morale of security personnel.
When the stage was finally set for the event to kick off, the organizers wasted no time in ushering the proverbial big masquerade into the meeting room. The NSA walked in, and the occasion began immediately. Though a man of few words, who would rather work behind the scene for success of operation than granting press interview, he urged the participants to feel free to offer their minds on issues they are convinced about. According to him, the media parley was a platform to rub minds on topical issues that pertain winning the war against insurgency and other criminal activities across the country.
He reminded participants that all individual efforts are geared towards achieving common goal and therefore, there shouldn’t be room for mutual suspicion and rivalry. Through his presentation, you could really tell that the NSA truly understands the job he is saddled with. He spoke seamlessly and brilliantly on issues and impressed on those present to promote national interest above other considerations. He was faultlessly frank in his submission and cautioned participants against passing the buck in our resolve to make Nigeria a more secure, safe and friendly nation.
The NSA who appealed to media practitioners to promote national interest,security consciousness and peace for the attainment of national goals and aspirations, dismissed critics of the maximum security deployed during the Anambra State governorship election, saying it was to ensure public safety. He stressed more on the need for improved and sustained working relationship among stakeholders in the nation’s security sector for more results, saying that the media remains a critical partner in addressing insecurity.
While commending Nigerian media for its contributions towards the sustenance of democracy in the country, Sambo urged it to be professional and guard against becoming willing tools in the hands of trouble-shooters in their quest to promote their selfish ambitions.
He said: “The nation is at a very critical stage: we should be wary of individuals and groups whose selfish agenda may affect our security through dirty politicking, negative activism and other acts of criminality. There are many lessons to be learnt from happening across the globe so that our nation will remain peaceful and well-secured.”
On the role of the military during elections, Dasuki, who maintained that while it is not the responsibility of security agencies to monitor electoral officials during election, noted that security officers are only mandated to provide maximum security for the protection of lives and property.He added that: “As security agencies we are not to be partisan and bias but professional in our conducts.”
Undoubtedly, the NSA’s brilliant submissions at the event are strong indications that he has both the managerial and intelligence acumen needed to overcome the prevailing security problems in some parts of the country. According to him, efforts should be channeled into fighting insurgency and not on trivial issues that would further divide us as people.
The strategic media interface which was the first of its kind, was an eye opener for representatives of security establishments, media and a select number of civil society bodies to work towards the goal of promoting and protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
Abdullahi Yunusa wrote in from Imane, Kogi state. [email protected]