Shettima makes case for journalists

BORNO State governor, Kashim Shettima, has called on newsmakers in the country to take journalists into confidence concerning sensitive issues affecting the country.

The governor, who was a guest at a one-day workshop hosted by the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri, Borno State, in conjunction with the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Borno State council, said journalists could be reliable when taken into confidence about issues.

“When newsmakers tell journalists the whole truth and seek their understanding in the reportage, the confidence is maintained and the balance kept between them,” he said.

The governor commended journalists in the state for their contribution  to the fight against Boko Haram, adding that he was satisfied with their performance so far.

“I had asked myself many times why was it that in developed countries, presidents and other leaders would go to places like Afghanistan and Iraq to meet with their soldiers at the battle fronts but such visits would not be instantly reported by leading media houses of the world like the CNN, BBC, New York Times, Aljazeera, Reuters, AFP and other media establishments.

“Reports about these visits would mostly be made public days after the visit or when the media is sure that the safety of the presidents at the front lines in Afghanistan would not be compromised.

“A lot of us have heard how the CNN reported meetings between President Barack Obama and troops in battle fields days after such visits. The international media completely shielded Prince Harry when he was fighting as a soldier and member of the British troops in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2008. He was only reported 10 weeks into his deployment after leaving dangerous points in Afghanistan.

“Let us now compare this with a classical situation in Nigeria. When President Goodluck Jonathan was said to be planning to visit Chibok in 2014, the trip was instantly revealed by virtually all Nigerian media houses, even when at that time, the visit was supposed to be a secret, in order not to compromise his safety, given the strength of the Boko Haram at that time,” he said.

Shettima said an experienced journalist he met in Lagos, who had worked in both Nigeria and one of the leading international media establishments in Europe, told him that the reason for keeping such secrets was because the international media houses are taken into confidence by those in charge of managing the information on the side of the world leaders.

He said international media establishments were well told about the plan and were requested to black out or give delayed report instead of real time.

“At most, the media houses would request that their reporters cover the trip or that clips be given to them at the same time without giving undue advantage to any media house, so that all will break the news simultaneously after the visit,” he said.

According to him, the worst assumption any newsmaker could make was to assume that a journalist lacked the capacity to find out what was being kept away from him.

“In the relationship between the newsmaker and the journalist, the newsmaker mostly wants to be the one to give out what he wants the journalist to know while on the other hand, the job of the journalist is not to just to report what the newsmaker tells him, but to be more curious about what he did not tell him, this is always the mindset of a good journalist,” he said.

Shettima also cautioned journalists against being used by Boko Haram insurgents to fight psychological warfare using videos and online insertions.

Theatre Commander, Major-General Lucky Irabor, commended the soldiers fighting in the theatre, adding that he was encouraged by their zeal to end the wickedness of the insurgents.

He called for a sustainable solution to the stress caused by Boko Haram in the entire theatre.