Peace Journalism: A Tool to Fighting Boko Haram Insurgents in the Northeast Nigeria
By Aondover Eric Msughter
There is no doubt that the media have the capacity and moral obligation to create awareness and educate citizen about the counter and prevent act of terrorism by making them approachable enough so that every citizen can approach them with their suggestions about how to create a terrorism-free world. In reporting Boko Haram, the media should give adequate information about activities of Boko Haram. Such reports should be accurate and objective, free from sensationalism or religious bias. It is not enough to report on the surface like reporting that there was bomb blast claiming some innocent lives. According to undisclosed source many lives and property were lost. The media should not only report about the blasts and consequent insecurity but should provide context, meaning and significance to this incessant bomb blasts. This will mould strong opinion towards addressing this menace and the cause.
In the usual straight news reporting, it is the usual he said, she said, eye-witnesses said; a usually-reliable-source confirmed, etc. none of the reports went further to give more than quotes from those in authority, the victims and sometimes from security operatives. What the audience gets from the mostly straight news stories are largely second-hand reports that hardly give insights into the real issues at stake. A peace journalist should not be neutral in his reportage when the masses are ruthlessly butchered by Boko Haram bombs and bullets. The reporters should consider it a patriotic duty to report the killings both objectively and subjectively, provided it is the truth. So, the press should provide the understanding for the facts surrounding the Boko Haram insurrection to enable the citizenry and perhaps, the government to cope with this particular menace.
Apparently, President Buhari stated that: “the victory over Boko Haram cannot be achieved by basing the command and control centre in Abuja. The command centre will be relocated to Maiduguri and remain until Boko Haram is completely subdued”. That buoyant announcement has all but fizzled into insignificance, considering the recent Boko Haram activities. In July, 2015, Boko Haram fighters massacred more than 200 Nigerians in coordinated attacks on worshipers inside mosques. On 29 July, 2019, dozens of mourners were also killed by Boko Haram at a funeral in Northeast Nigeria.
As Ifeyinwa laments, Boko Haram no doubt has launched more attacks in Maiduguri, the capital of Bornu State, since Buhari announced the relocation of the military’s tactical command to that city. It is as if the insurgents were saying to the president and the armed forces, “there is nothing you can do”. Peace journalist should find out what has emboldened Boko haram to escalate its attacks instead of retreating going by Buhari’s military credentials. Furthermore they should present their findings to the public to enable them make informed decisions as to handle the activities of Boko Haram.
It is apparent also for northern leaders to urgently call an emergency meeting to harness and dispassionately X-ray the problem of Boko Haram which is fast turning the North to nothing in terms of infrastructure, investment and development in general. The destruction that is taking place now has the tendency of setting the region almost 40 years back in all sectors. Whatever the governors are doing in terms of development without checking the menace of Boko Haram will amount to nothing. A gathering of political leaders, religious personages, Emirs, Clan heads and other relevant stakeholders deliberating honestly and sincerely ought to be able to stern this ugly trend. The pertinent questions that the peace journalists should sincerely address and make public to Nigerians are: did Boko Haram people descend from the skies? Don’t they have roots somewhere? They didn’t grow up in communities? Don’t they have people who know them, who can appease them to drop their arms against their people and nation?
It is also time for those who created the Frankenstein monster in the name of politics or whatever reason, to face the reality that the evil wind they sowed yesterday has birthed a whirlwind ravaging the North and the nation today. Honestly, Nigerian would not forget when some people threatened that, should Jonathan contest and win 2011 elections; they would make the country ungovernable for him. Everything he did was criticised. If one Boko Haram member was killed, they would accuse Jonathan of wanting to wipe out the North. Ironically, the same people who always criticised Jonathan but never proffered any solution on how the issue of terrorism could be tackled are now asking Nigerians to support Buhari against Boko Haram. These facts should be highlighted by the peace reporters to the masses to enable them contribute meaningfully to the fight against Boko Haram.
A lawyer and public affairs analyst, Martins Agoziem, remarks that the issue of insecurity and terrorism in Nigeria had been so politicized that it would be a difficult nut to crack. He said that if Nigerians faced the issue of terrorism the way it tackled the Ebola virus, terrorism would have been drastically reduced. During the Ebola scare, everybody faced the problem with one spirit. There was no APC or PDP because Ebola did not know who was in party A or B and with the corporation of all Nigerians, Ebola was defeated. This implies that the war against Boko Haram can be won if all Nigerians come together without attachment to political or religious affiliations. A peace journalist should analyze how the war against Ebola was won and tell the people publicly that if the same strategies should be used to fight Boko Haram, we shall succeed.
The deputy senate president under the caption- Boko Haram: Ekweremadu urges support for Buhari that “all hands should be on deck in the fight against Boko Haram. Whatever has caused insurgence, we need to address Boko Haram and aggressively too before it gets too late. The peace journalist should excavate news beyond the news, throw more light on the president’s statement and of course get suggestions from different quarters on how the problem could be approached. Thus, allowing the masses to make informed decision after being exposed to useful information.
To this end, our leaders and the stakeholders particularly in the affected region are not sincere to themselves in the fight against Boko Haram. The issue is that members of the sect have their roots and it is only leaders in those areas that can identify their root and realistically use different strategies to curb the menace. Please, journalists should wake up, the use of security agents and military alone cannot stop the activities of the sect.