Whither Media Intelligence? By Sylvester Bonny-Jack
One of the fallouts from the alarming state of insecurity in the country is the trivialization of security issues such that everyone has a sense of entitlement to talk in the ensuing Babel of voices on insecurity. It is understandable that the climate of fear hovering over most parts of the country will provoke a frenzy of frightened and frightening chatter as Nigerians express concern and agitate for decisive intervention of the military and security forces to restore law and order. But, it is a ridiculous derogation of the national crisis when every Tayo, Dike and Hamisu assumes the posture of an informed source of “expert” knowledge on the intricacies of our security architecture, even if this is powered by media maniacs enticing them with cameras and microphones to sustain the raging epidemic of talk-shows on insecurity.
Imagine people whose “analysis” of the counter-insurgency operations consistently concludes that “failure of intelligence” should be blamed for the lack of sustained victories in the war against insurgency as they tongue-lash the security agencies with armchair anger. The deplorable propagation of largely uninformed and misinformed cheap talk on the intricate technicalities of national security and defense matters is a reflection of similar deficits in the so-called on-air-personalities who anchor the talk shows. Journalistic credentials have been written off by propagandist pandering to proprietorship politics thereby polluting the “nobility” of the profession with fake news, jaundiced analysis and parochial narratives. Little wonder that, more often than not, the media is causative factor rather than a moderating influence in the inevitable crises of emergent nationhood.
In the absence of a genuinely objective and nationalistic media, insecurity and its perpetrators derive impetus from the “oxygen of publicity” lavishly supplied by opposition media’s zealous quest for anti-government content with an unscrupulous
fixation on undermining and replacing the incumbent government. So, the daily dedication of banner headlines and breaking news to the real and exaggerated exploits of the insurgents and armed bandits adds vicious value to the selective coverage of disparaging news about lack of combat readiness of troops and humongous amount of funds that the Buhari Administration has eagerly disbursed to the military commands without commensurate impact.
The skewed coverage of the nation’s battles plays down or blacks out the obvious international backing of insurgents and conspiratorial sabotage of Nigerian military might by supposedly friendly foreign “partners” who withhold or delay critical arsenals. The history of patriotic posture of the Nigerian Press against colonialism and Western imperialism is giving way to adoption of advocacy templates that amount to creating back channels for foreign interference with internal affairs and sovereignty of the country in furtherance of neo-colonialist agenda.
The orchestrated politically-motivated assault on the country’s relentless resilience in the face of a decade old widening war of attrition against combined foreign and internal enemies also targets the intelligence community. Logic should underscore the fact that intelligence is a strategic covert resource in military operations and maintenance of national security in general. Besides, the military also has its internal intelligence capabilities.
Reading between the lines of the “intelligence”-bashing in the media, it is clear that the so called security experts are either ill informed on the contributions of the Intelligence services or they are being mischievous, or both, all in the interest of serving their paymasters. They have always ignored in their media theatrics, the valuable intelligence being passed to the Nigerian military by Services in the intelligence. Moreover, contrary to the buck-passing or “blame game” culture that motivates deliberate misinformation about actionable intelligence, there is a seamless inter-relationship between intelligence agencies and the military, especially in times of war, as each party knows its role and limitations.”
It ought to be beyond conjecture that while intelligence agencies have a duty to gather and supply relevant intelligence to strengthen the arm of the military in combat operations, they cannot supplant the military’s professional responsibility of executing the war. These salient points sufficiently expose the ignorance and mischief of the armchair critics promoted by opposition media to undermine and demoralize the nation’s entire security infrastructure.
It is rather regrettable that the covert nature of operations of internal intelligence services against active and potential security threats precludes undue publicity of their activities. The fact that they are duty bound to embrace all prominent political leaders in and outside incumbent government, including the opposition, in protective coverage which is never turned down, is sufficient vindication of their nationalistic professional disposition and indispensability. They represent a dependable institutional edifice in constant and perpetual vigilant protection of the nation state, irrespective of the identity or composition of transient legitimate leadership. Amid all the propaganda and criticism, theirs’ is a case of silence is not consent!
It bears emphasizing that the continued existence of Nigeria is the barest minimum condition for the sustainability of citizenship identity and all the exclusive attendant entitlements and privileges attached to nationality. Our eventful history and prospective future of evolving nationhood rest on the resilience of Nigeria against all odds. The inflammable roles some sections of the media have chosen to play in a period of unprecedented insecurity outbreaks constitute a clear and present danger to the territorial integrity of the nation and survival of citizens. Banner headlines projecting the horrendous toll from incessant insurgency attacks and kidnappings have turned newspapers into another occupied area where insurgent flags are flying high. It’s as if the newspapers harbor an unspeakable urge to ultimately report surrender of Nigerian troops to the insurgents, kidnappers and urban bandits!
As a result, there is a discernible convergence of interests between raging insecurity and political opposition as the two sides cast a death wish on the Buhari Administration and by extension Nigeria, one from the barrels of guns and the other from media missiles. Absurdly, all the mindless hostility and callous incitement against national stability and sustainable democracy is coming from political enclaves harbouring a restless, counter-constitutional anxiety to take over the leadership of the country! The stampede to occupy the corridors of power by hook and crook exposes the insatiable lust for self-enrichment among leading politicians who cling tenaciously to lucrative political offices. Once out of power they are like fish out of water! The death wishers remain an aggressive minority in the midst of the majority of citizens who would rather endure transient challenges of emerging nationhood, than be provoked by the desperation of the insanely ambitious into stateless misery of roaming refugees. By God’s grace, Nigeria will outlive its enemies!
SYLVESTER BONNY-JACK wrote from Port Harcourt