The National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), has disclosed that the federal government would be having a change of tactics in the ongoing fight against Boko Haram insurgents, stating that the decision was based on the realization that the military alone cannot stop the menace of terrorism in the country.
He said both security experts and stakeholders in the nation’s development had been calling for “a total overhaul of the approach in the counter-insurgency war because the terrorists have refused to give up their quest to make the country ungovernable.”
Dasuki hinted that for a change of approach, the government would now make use of what he described as ‘a robust public diplomacy’, which would involve every facet of the society including aggressive mass media participation.
He said: “Nigeria realises that military action on its own will not counter terror if not accompanied by a robust public diplomacy aimed defeating the ideology of hate and building consensus against violent extremism.
“That is why strategic communication is an essential part of our counter terrorism operations. Nigeria will continuously update its strategic communication needs to reflect current challenges occasioned by terrorism.”
“In all areas of strategic communication programmes, focus will be placed on: unity and indivisibility of Nigeria as a nation; democracy and the fundamental freedom of worship and belief; public safety and good governance and zero tolerance for violent extremism,” he added.
According to the NSA, who was represented by Ambassador Clement Layiwola Lasehinde; “Our strategic communication goals are targeted primarily at our people.
“We seek to create a nation in constant conversation with itself, employing communication to heal wounds and build trust as we confront violent extremism.”
Speaking further, Dasuki listed the themes of the strategic communication to include terrorism is un-Islamic; counter terrorism was not against Muslims; encourage and empower Muslims to speak out against terror; Muslim-Christian Relations; mass literacy; and counter-terrorism is apolitical.
Earlier, the Commandant of NDC, Rear Admiral Ndidi Patrick Agholor, disclosed that the workshop was one of the initiatives to broaden and strengthen the existing counter-insurgency strategies for improved effectiveness.
Agholor noted that strategic communication entailed, “all efforts to create, strengthen, and preserve conditions favourable for the advancement of national interests, policies, and objectives, by understanding and engaging key audiences through the use of coordinated programmes, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronised with the actions of all instruments of national power.”
He said with the presence of some security experts from the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK), including Albany Associates of London, “demonstrates that our partnership is working.”
“We feel this is the beginning of the fulfillment made by President Goodluck Jonathan in November when he was speaking with President Barrack Obama about collaboration to tackle terrorism”, he said.
Also, the Minister of Information and Supervising Minister of Defence, Labaran Maku, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Alhaji Aliyu Ismaila, commended the organisers of the workshop for being timely and focused.
Maku recalled that “the idea of the workshop originated from the request made recently by the United Nations for the use of the college’s facility to help develop AFISMA strategic communications plan and was optimistic that the outcome would help Nigeria to overcome the menace of terrorism.”