Calls for responsible press

Lawrence Ekong

The last may soon be heard of activities of bandits, kidnappers and other criminally minded elements, as the Akwa Ibom State government and other crucial stakeholders are advocating for the inclusion of strategic communications in overall effort to sustain peace and promotion of national security.

The state government made the advocacy through the Ministry of Information and Strategy, during a meeting with the members of the State Strategic Information Management Committee, held Tuesday, November 9th, 2021, at the Ministry’s Headquarters in Uyo.

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In his welcome remarks, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, and Chairman of the meeting, Comrade Ini Ememobong intimated his guests that the essence of the meeting was to afford stakeholders the opportunity of converging at a ” melting point ” where the main focus would be on the management of strategic and discrete information, especially in the areas of security and disaster management.

According to Ememobong,” This Committee meetings would help eliminate the situation whereby we go scouting for security information and other sensitive information in a wrong channel, whereas we know that information sources determine their veracity  “.

” As people in government, we must  understand that the people we work for are the citizens, and the primary responsibility of government is the protection of lives and property. Therefore, there is the need for us to come together on the same page, and share information through strategic communication, which would help eliminate disparity among security agencies, and bring benefits to the people  “.

” We must discourage the situation where some media organisations would exploit an already bad situation to the detriment of the society. We must also continue to hold the media accountable for responsible reportage, and make them to understand that until we make deliberate effort to ” talk up ” our society, we may not be able to come up economically the way even the media expects us to.Therefore, the media must also understand that the consequences of bad press are not suffered only by government, but also by other members of the society, which the media is part of “. Ememobong stated .

The Guest Lecturer at the meeting, Prof. Uwem Akpan of the Department of Communication Arts, University of Uyo, who spoke on the topic: Strategic Communication, A Veritable Tool In National Security, maintained that national security involved the safekeeping of a nation as a whole, and the protection of the people from security threats from within and outside, such that the citizens feel secure physically, economically, territorially, politically, socially and culturally.

While explaining communication as ” sharing meaning between parties  in a communication setting ” ,  Prof Akpan noted that communication was not a haphazard exercise, but required thorough planning where the contents and channel must be carefully selected to ensure that the goals of communication are achieved.

According to the professor of strategic communication in broadcast journalism, ” Strategic Communication is not created out of the blues, but out of the mission, vision and values of the organisation with the aim of engaging key audiences to create,  strengthen or preserve conditions favourable for the advancement of specific goals “.

While listing some of the elements of strategic communication to include: the identification of audience, determination of goals, clarity, correctness, consciousness, courtesy, concreteness, consideration and completeness. Prof. Akpan added that the managers of national security have a duty to make clear their mission, vision and values of the nation’s security system, which he said would provide the framework from which all the communication on national security will flow in consonance with the intended objectives.

” Strategic Communication thrives on clearly defined goals and objectives. There must be a reason to communicate, and along that reason, the intended outcome should be predetermined “. He said .

Prof. Akpan, however, pointed out that strategic communication for national security could suffer a setback in a multi-lingual and cultural society like Nigeria, if funding was not made available by the authorities to aid the publication of security tips and security messages in the over 250 languages spoken in the country for easy understanding .

The University Don also recommended homogeneity in security communications among security agencies as well as relevant stakeholders as part of efforts to eliminate the embarrassments associated with speaking with ” cacophony of voices “. He also called on media organisations to view national security as part of national development, and align their communication messages in similar fashion in order to enhance national security.

Speaking on behalf of the participants, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, of the Akwa Ibom State Police Command, Odiko McDon, commended the Akwa Ibom State government for setting up the committee, saying that the topic of the lecture was expedient given the current security situation in the country.

” As participants, especially those of us from the security agencies, I  want to say that we have learnt so much today, and we look forward to having more seasons like this “.

” I want to also say that I have found a strong nexus between effective communication and strategic communication, because there is no way one can talk about national security or national development without the mentioning of either concepts. Again, and fundamentally too, we have learnt that we should target the minds and hearts of the people to be able to get the best from them when it comes to strategic communication. More importantly also, is the fact that we need to collaborate more with our sister agencies, which is one of the things that has helped us here in Akwa Ibom to achieve the level of peace we are having in the state ” MacDon stated.

Thev meeting which was followed by a closed door season, where technical matters were deliberated upon, had in attendance spokespersons of the various security organisations in the state.

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