How we’ve fared on war against insurgency, By Brig-Gen. Sani Kukasheka

It is a great honour  and privilege for me to stand before you and welcome you all our esteemed invited guests and participants to this conference. I particularly wish to humbly welcome the Special Guest of Honour, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, here represented by Deaconess Mrs. Grace Isu Gekpe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Culture, the Chairman of the occasion, His Excellency, Aremu Olusegun Osoba, a renowned journalist and former Executive Governor of Ogun State, here represented by Professor Umaru Pate, the immediate past Dean, Faculty of Mass Communication, now Dean, Post Graduate School of Bayero University Kano, our Chief Host, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, NAM OMM (BR), Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Nigerian Army, the Keynote Speaker, Professor Tony Iredia, a former Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), the Presidents and Executive members of the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Guild of Corporate Online Publishers of Nigeria (GOCOP) and the Nigerian Bloggers Association, seasoned scholars, resource persons and Principal Staff Officers from Army Headquarters, senior military officers both serving and retired, particularly Brigadier General FE Chukwuma (rtd), Air Commodore Yusuf Anas and Colonel Hassan Stan-Labbo, distinguished invited guests, gentlemen of the press and the participants to the Nigerian Army Media Conference 2019, taking place here at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre, Abuja.

This event which is first of its kind, is also at the instance of the COAS, Lt Gen TY Buratai, who directed that it should be put together in collaboration with other critical stakeholders in Nigeria. Consequently, it is gratifying to observe that large number of the invited guests and participants honoured our invitation despite short notice. It is hoped and anticipated that you will have a rewarding experience and actively participate particularly during the interactive session.

The conference theme, “Enhancing Media-Military Relationship for Effective fight against terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria” has been carefully chosen to impact on the knowledge of participants. It is also aimed at deepening military-media relationship for enhanced national security in our country, Nigeria. It is borne out of the belief that if there is greater collaboration and understanding between the military and the media, Nigerian society will be better protected and secured. This initiative is also the outcome of an interactive session the COAS had with editors of the media houses in Nigeria at Command Guest House, Maiduguri on 22 December 2018. The Nigerian Army being a professionally responsive organisation, deemed it necessary to invite media executives and other stakeholders to further dialogue and fashion out more ways and areas of further collaboration for enhanced military-media relations in Nigeria especially as it affects the Nigerian Army. The choice of the  collaborating partners of this conference is not a coincidence, all are stakeholders in the attainment of our national security objective.

Eminent scholars and personalities have been invited to deliver papers on topical issues relating to the theme in addition to remarks by the COAS, goodwill messages, opening remarks by the Special Guest of Honour and Keynote address.  Each of the presentations will be followed by an interactive session, comments and contributions will be taken from the floor in order to further enrich our knowledge. The COAS will sum each of the sessions. At the end of the conference, there will be a communique based on the deliberations at this event. You are all enjoined to please feel free to contribute meaningfully for the benefit of all and the success of this conference. We want the media to have a clear understanding of how the military system works especially during operations such as the fight against terrorism and insurgency.

The military and the media in Nigeria are indeed partners in progress as both are working for the common good of the society in their respective ways. The Nigerian Army is deployed in various parts of the country on internal security duties in aid of civil authority and the fight against terrorism and insurgency to safeguard the territorial integrity of our great nation. As expected, these operations have been subject of media coverage and enquiry. However, most of the reportage tend to negate the basic principle of giving the military fair hearing and were not reported in the context of national security objectives. Thus, creating room for mutual suspicion and misunderstanding. It is hoped that the deliberations would lead to far reaching decisions at the end of this conference. This  we hope, will form the basis for further engagement and understanding the dynamics of our professions as it relates to the national security.

Please permit me to at this point, state that the Directorate of Army Public Relations has never had it so good. The COAS, Lt Gen TY Buratai, has created the conducive atmosphere for us to practice. He has also assisted tremendously with facilities for effective public relations practice and training opportunities  such as this. Today, the COAS, has again made history by putting together the largest gathering of the most important media related groups in Nigeria. Never in the history of this country did we have at one gathering, groups such as scholars, media proprietors, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Guild of Corporate Online Publishers and Guild of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria and most importantly, the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army sitting together to fashion out solutions to a problem affecting us all. For us the Officers and Soldiers of the Nigerian Army, we are least surprised because the past four years have seen unprecedented transformation being recorded in every facet, with the advancement of enhanced civil-military and media relations always prominently placed at the front burner. Let me also inform us all that this COAS is the first Chief of Army Staff to have embedded in his entourage, a team of journalists whenever he is on operational visit to any part of the country. This stems out of his firm belief and confidence in the Nigerian journalist. The COAS Sir, we are indeed very grateful and I want to assure you of our unalloyed loyalty and dedication to duty.

As we all settle into the business of this conference, I urge us all to take advantage of this auspicious forum to forge new bonds for enhanced media- military relationship culminating in the national objective of security for our country. Distinguished participants and invited guests please take advantage of this conference to contribute towards enhancing military-media relationship in Nigeria. With this, may I at this juncture most respectfully and dutifully too, invite the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen TY Buratai, to please present his remarks.

Thank you and God bless.

Being a welcome address by Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka, Director of Army Public Relations at the Army Media Conference held in Abuja recently.