17 July 2017

Nigeria: Dasuki - Our North East Interventions Aided Peaceful Elections in 2015

Photo: The Guardian
Goodluck Jonathan.

From his detention facility, incarcerated former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), has spoken on the interventions of the former president Goodluck Jonathan's administration in tackling the Boko Haram menace and recovering dozens of towns and villages which led to the smooth conduct of 2015 general election in the North-eastern part of Nigeria.

Dasuki stated this in his foreword to a 308-page new book titled: "Boko Haram Media War - An Encounter with the Spymaster," written by Yushau A. Shuaib.

"In the war-front are evident success stories which Shuaib has mentioned in some of the articles that featured in this book, especially on media relations, self-censorship, gallantry in recovering dozens of cities and towns, among other declassified revelations," he said.

Dasuki added: "In fact, without our intervention in ensuring the defeat of Boko Haram, the electorate could not have had the opportunity to exercise their franchise.

"It is a fact that we provided peace and stability that afforded Nigerians, especially in the North-east in voting for their governors, legislators and others in the 2015 elections."

He noted that apart from the soft approach programme initiated for countering terrorism through de-radicalisation without the use of force, the past administration also introduced and implemented programmes for economic empowerment, education, communication, rehabilitation and counselling in the North-east.

According to the former National Security Adviser, "Crisis communication, as one of the components of general campaigns, was initiated to win the heart of the citizens, boost the morale of the troops and weaken the fighting spirit of the terrorists."

He said: "On the media campaign, Yushau Shuaib who came highly recommended had been disengaged from the public service but was immediately re-engaged by the system to act as chief consultant on crisis communication.

"From the theories of mass communication, we deployed practical aspects of crisis communication throughout the campaign period, especially between June 2013 to May 2015."

The NSA posited that sensitive security issues were handled in a most professional manner, with strict adherence to confidentiality to avoid compromising national security.

He further said that "in strategic communications for crisis management, especially in confronting Boko Haram, the media were the major tool in the campaign against the insurgency.

"There was thorough, timely and responsible reportage of the campaign. Some of the media organisations played very strategic roles at great risk to their lives in the successes recorded, especially by our forces in the war against terrorism".

He noted that as part of efforts in ensuring the mutual relationship with the media stakeholders, a 17-member Forum of the Spokespersons of Security and Response Agencies (FOSSRA) was established with representatives from the military, security, intelligence and response agencies.

Dasuki added that through the media component of the war on terror, Shuaib and his team carried out various activities including issuance of over 3,000 media content, including newsworthy items and publications, exclusive news placements and editorial control of sensitive reports, hosting of timely and regular press briefings, social media engagements and production of specialised publications, among others.

Dasuki stated that while Shuaib's narration covers only one of the great strides in the media campaigns, he appealed to media practitioners to embrace the challenge to examine other areas of the interventions such as the soft approach programme, strategic alliances and military operations that the erstwhile regime carried out successfully.

He commended the author for his courage and boldness in the face of the current challenges in the country and for his principle and consistency in stating the obvious and indeed the facts in the book.

Shuaib is an award-winning public relations professional whose stock-in-trade is nothing else, but writing. In 2013, he encountered a bump in his career over one of his writings, leading to his compulsory retirement from the public service when a cabinet minister lodged a complaint.

After his unceremonious exit from the public service, a presidential adviser hired him to serve as a consultant on strategic communications to security agencies in Nigeria.

Four years in his compulsory retirement, Shuaib has published over 50 articles and assisted many organisations in crisis communication strategies.

His professional initiatives and platforms have garnered recognitions and commendations.

The book provides a first hand account on the politics behind the author's premature retirement from the public service and his strategic re-engagement by the system in serving the same government as a consultant.

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