The greatest opposition the military has is the social media – Expert
A public affairs commentator, Mrs. Tayo-Umbule Sheba has argued that the greatest opposition of the Nigerian military is neither banditry nor insecurity but, the conspiracy theories, propaganda and fake news disseminated by social media handlers and users about the activities of the military.
She said this at the 14th Social Media Influencers’ seminar on the evolving role of the social media in support of the Nigerian Army non-kinetic line of operations, held on Monday, August 30 2021, at Watbridge Hotel, IBB Way in Uyo.
The speaker who listed hate speech, false information, propaganda, conspiracy theories and other “weapons” deployed by social media users in undermining the efforts of the Nigerian Army lamented the corresponding offline effects of these harms, while calling for a calculated approach at stopping the dangerous norm.
She submitted that citizen journalists should consider their information sources, check for the writer of the story, ascertain the date of publication, confirm from experts and read beyond every news they come across to allay their biases before sharing or making a post.
While charging the participants on responsible usage of the social media, Mrs. Sheba harped on the need to verify information from the right sources before publicizing them, while calling on the military to be proactive and spontaneous about information dissemination to prevent gaps.
“Government and the military should understand that we’re in an information era. They should have a proactive, consistent and dependable social media handle to close communication gap in times of need to avoid the fabrication of false news”, she recommended.
Bearing their minds on ‘The Social Media as a Tool for Non-Kinetic Operations’, Barr. Clifford Thomas, Courage Mbon, Imaobong Akpan and Samuel Akpan of the Human Rights Initiative observed that the military hardly interfaces with the media or society and is often dreaded to be approached by civilians.
They therefore suggested truthfulness and honesty in reportage of events and incidences, image building and community relations as well as Military respect for the law as panaceas to help strengthen the Army’s non-kinetic operations.
They also pushed that regular interaction with the media and timely dissemination of information about events, in all honesty and accuracy would help the Nigerian Army win the confidence of citizens of the country.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chief Civil Military Affairs Officer of the Nigerian Army, Major General Markus Kangye notified that the seminar is a continuous event to enable the Nigerian Army receive feedbacks on how to serve the Nigerian populace better and a platform to inform them on the organization’s activities.
“There is no doubt that this forum will again provide us the necessary and needed opportunity to freely interact, discuss, share ideas and rub minds particularly towards eradication of the fake news syndrome…it is very obvious that what you say, the way you say it and how it spreads have far reaching implications than most of us think, because the social media has a very crucial role to play in support of the Nigerian Army’s non-kinetic line of operations as well as shaping public opinion”, he said.
“This event is also expected to provide an avenue for us to enlighten you about developments in the Nigerian Army because a lot is being done through the Department of Civil Military Affairs since its inception in year 2010 to bridge the perceived gap with the civil populace and in winning the hearts and minds of the populace… the Nigerian Army believes in impacting positively on the lives of the average Citizen as part of it’s cooperate social responsibilities and constitutional roles. In the area of community outreaches through Quick Impact Projects, the Nigerian Army in the last 5 years has carried out more than 100 Civil Military Related Projects aimed at bridging the gap with the civil populace and ensuring that the Nigerian Army is seen in the positive light as a responsible organization”, he informed.
The Major General however reminded participants that the constitutional duty of the Nigerian Army is to protect territorial integrity from external aggression, amongst other duties, and not to man the streets.
“If you see Army on the streets, it’s either the Police or other agencies responsible are not performing well”, he noted.
He reeled out the several interventions of the Nigerian Army in times past and currently, and called for their appreciation and encouragement.
“Soldiers also have rights and the right to live especially. They are many things we pass through which you don’t know. A lot of us have died and lost so many things but we can’t start telling you. So, we need your encouragement. We are all aware that the cyberspace is the latest domain of modern warfare. Therefore, social media presents a veritable tool in influencing and shaping public opinion”, he stated.
The event which featured a session of interaction with participants had the Civil Liberty Organizations, Civil Societies, the Human Rights Community, Social Media Influencers, Bloggers, Journalists and Students in attendance.
It featured the presentation of awards to deserving military personnel as well as certificates of attendance to the participants.
The 14th Social Media Influencers Seminar was organized by the Department of Civil Military Affairs of the Nigerian Army in conjunction with the Security Affairs Limited Uyo.