Last week the president pleaded with journalists to use the term “declining insecurity” rather than “rising insecurity” in their reportage of security situation in the country.
He made the call while felicitating with the Muslim Ummah on the occasion of the Maulud-Un-Nabiyy. In a statement released by his top media aide, Garba Shehu, it reads partly “the reality of declining insecurity should replace the inaccurate narrative of rising insecurity in the country”.
“While there is work to do, the men and women in uniform who are helping the nation to achieve this goal, desire our collective appreciation and encouragement to do even more. The whole country and its mass communications systems have a duty in this regard….”
It appears that whoever wrote the letter carefully chose the words in it as we can see a rational propaganda in the message. It didn’t out rightly condemn the journalists nor did it praise them. In fact it has some pleading tone to it, acknowledging that there is still work to do in the face of declining insecurity.
From the content of the letter it can be deduced that the president is making such assertions based on the perceived increase in military, intelligence and other security activities by the state to end insecurity in the forms of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and the likes. Logically one should expect that these increased security actions should yield results. But the questions remains – is insecurity actually declining? The presidency will answer yes to this question by its choice of phrase “REALITY of declining insecurity”. Hours before and after the statement was made there were attacks in the country; one in Sokoto that claimed more than forty lives, an attack on the Abuja-Kaduna bound train and pockets of others.
Is the presidency now saying that the media is bias or sentimental in its reporting of issues while neglecting facts on ground? In regards to this, it is important for the media to do an introspection to ascertain if it really reports issues as they are while incorporating “solution journalism” in its output.
Can we also say that the call is for journalists to become prophets; to call those things that are not as though they were, as was in the case of Abraham (Romans 4.17) where God called Abraham a father of many nations even though he didn’t have a child at the time? In other words, is it a call to optimism or as the saying goes – fake it till you make it? Faith works, you know!
Does the letter seek to prop a psychological warfare against insecurity in the mind of the people and the bandits themselves, that is; to give hope to Nigerians that the war is almost ending and to cause anxiety or despair among bandits that their time is up?
We shouldn’t neglect the fact that though the media has the capacity to influence the minds of majority of the people in any nation at all, yet, this capacity is not as far reaching as it used to be. Today almost everyone is a media in person; it is even unassuming people who are influencing the media by reason of being at the places where events take place unplanned, by use of smartphones to capture and share information indiscriminately, by phone calls among family members and friends at home and abroad, in the city or in the village.
So it is clear that describing the level of insecurity as rising or declining is actually a question of reality as stated by the presidency, it is beyond the control of editors, it is in the control of REALITY which the president speaks of, except we want to set up a committee to check the level of insecurity in the country; whether it has increased or reduced.
The presidency must re-ask itself the insecurity question in sincerity; is insecurity really declining? Are we doing the best we can? Are there rooms for improvement? Apart from semantics, is there anyway we can work with the press in tackling insecurity?
Reality which could also be described as truth has a voice of its own, and apart from the gullibility of the masses, reality cannot be distorted by propaganda or silence.