The Defence Headquarters on Friday organised a capacity building workshop on proactive communication and defence information for public relations and information officers in the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, said the one day training workshop was aimed at further expanding the knowledge base of the officers.
Irabor was represented by the Chief of Defence Policy and Plans, AVM Dahiru Sanda at the workshop with the theme, “Proactive Conflict Sensitive Communication and Defence Information: Emerging Issues and Strategies in Media Relations”.
He said the training was designed to broaden the horizon of officers on the evolving techniques and strategies in media relations geared towards positive defence information management.
The CDS said it was in furtherance of his leadership focus of fostering a professional armed force capable of effectively meeting constitutional imperatives.
According to him, the workshop is critical in their resolve to ensure that public relation and information officers are able to meet up with current and future realities of defence information management.
Irabor said that military spokespersons must be well trained and proactive in the management of public information and communication during conflict and peacetime within the ambits of acceptable global standards.
“It is my belief that this workshop will equally facilitate the advancement of a proactive and responsive approach that would bring about the much needed harmonisation of media relations strategy and communication management in our armed forces.
“Therefore, I implore our military spokespersons to continue to leverage on the various communication techniques and platforms to effectively tell the story of the Nigerian armed forces in a bid to elevate the trust and confidence of the civilian populace.
“This will help in deterring current and potential adversaries within and outside the shores of Nigeria as well as mitigate misinformation and disinformation on military operations,” he said.
The facilitator of the workshop and Chief Executive Officer, Media Today International, Mr Charles Odenigbo, said the military must develop strategy to be able to proactively feed the public with timely and accurate information on its activities.
Odenigbo said that inaccurate or lack of information could give room to speculation and fake news to thrive, adding that it was dangerous for the country considering the current situation.
He said the armed forces were currently confronting various challenges across the country, saying that the media needed to work with the military to give out the right news.
He said there was need for the military information managers to move from being reactive to proactive to be able to appeal to people’s consciousness.
According to him, Nigerians are very conscious either positive or negative and man’s consciousness is his property, expression, identity and what he believes and stands for.
“Where there is a relationship between the civilians and the military, communication will have to be conflict sensitive because we are faced with our own citizens raising arms against their own nation.
“In a situation of this nature, bullet kill an idea in the head of a man because once an idea spreads, it will be difficult to handle.
“It is important that every information that the DHQ is pushing out must appeal to the consciousness of the people,” he said.
A resource person, Dr Okay Ikechukwu, said there was need for the military to be conscious of what could lead to conflict and work deliberately and systematically towards avoiding words, actions and public conduct and information output that could generate negative reactions.
Ikechukwu said that military must have relationship with the media with a view to ensuring that accurate and positive information were disseminated to the public.
He also emphasised the need to be proactive instead of reactive, saying that proactive strategies involved not taking anything for granted, modification of responses to familiar situations, review of routines and expectations and continuous scenario building.
According to him, proactive strategies anticipate challenges, threats and opportunities, reduce the likelihood of unpleasant outcomes, or challenging behavior and focus on the conditions that precede the behavior.
The Deputy Director, Defence Information, Air Commodore Wap Maigida, said that sensitive communication strategy remained part and parcel of information management system, adding that militaries across the globe had continue to deploy the needed communication strategies in the quest to manage conflicts.
Maigida said that military public relations and information officers must understand the rudiments associated with proactive conflict sensitive communication and defence information.
He said the training workshop was designed to acquaint military spokesperson on how best to harness military/media relations for the interest of peace and national security.
According to him, it is pertinent for public relations officers to be able to analyse operational engagements of the services.