To­wards a pos­i­tive army-me­dia re­la­tions

Daily Trust - - PHOTO NEWS -

Who says things aren’t chang­ing in Naija? It may be in Max Romeo’s clas­sic of one step for­ward and two steps back­wards, but some things are chang­ing in Naija. Could you imag­ine that the army has is­sued an apol­ogy to the na­tion for mis­in­form­ing them on the sad ab­duc­tion of NNPC and Univer­sity of Maiduguri staff? I mean, it ac­tu­ally hap­pened! It’s not fake news. No me­dia house was closed down as a re­sult, no re­porter was ha­rassed over the mat­ter, a press state­ment did the deed and a press state­ment righted the wrong! Hur­ray, my eyes have seen the good­ness of the army!

Years back, yours sin­cerely had to go into hid­ing af­ter re­port­ing that the air force base in Kwara was clos­ing. It was a true story from the mouth of the then chief of air staff who was mak­ing a farewell tour of units un­der his com­mand. The ad­dress was made to the troops who had gath­ered at the base to hear their com­man­dant. But a few hours af­ter the story broke, a this change of tac­tics is a wel­come ges­ture.

My gen­er­a­tion may not see the day when peo­ple who signed such mon­u­men­tal mis­in­for­ma­tion state­ments would find the de­cency to re­sign, but this state­ment is a land­mark in the his­tory of army-me­dia re­la­tions. Prior to this, the army had in­sisted it was over­haul­ing the way it passed in­for­ma­tion to the pub­lic.

Not too long ago, er­rant sol­diers who bru­tally and un­con­scionably at­tacked a civil­ian on wheel­chair, bounc­ing both him and his chair across the street to the con­ster­na­tion of the peo­ple were dis­ci­plined when so­cial me­dia broke the news. The army apol­o­gised and com­pen­sated the poor chap. Ap­par­ently some sol­diers are yet to get the memo. Re­cently, army com­man­ders re­port­edly dis­ci­plined sol­diers who pun­ished civil­ians by mak­ing them swim in pud­dle. Things may not be where we want them to be, but they are not as bad as they used to be and they ap­pear to be im­prov­ing.

While that is go­ing on, let me re­port that a very shame­ful video has been mak­ing so­cial me­dia rounds where sol­diers or­dered some group of men, sus­pected to be area boys to en­gage in a slap­ping com­pe­ti­tion. Just like the sad video of the lady soldier who bru­tal­ized a young Abuja en­vi­ron­men­tal gar­den chap re­ceived mil­i­tary at­ten­tion, we hope the sol­diers in that video get their just rec­om­pense. Barely three weeks ago, some sol­diers in­ter­fered with a do­mes­tic spat be­tween a cousin of mine and his es­tranged wife. Uni­formed per­son­nel must re­mem­ber Fela’s words - noth­ing spe­cial about uni­form/ uni­form na clothe na tay­lor dey sew am. In the war against crime and crim­i­nal­ity in which our gal­lant sol­diers and other re­sources are spread thin, the first weapon of suc­cess is win­ning the hearts and minds of the civil pop­u­la­tion. There would be nei­ther peace nor se­cu­rity un­til the civil­ian sees the uni­formed per­son as a true friend and shield.

Last week, the pres­i­dent of Pak­istan, Nawar Sharif re­signed af­ter the coun­try’s supreme court de­clared him in­el­i­gi­ble for pub­lic of­fice on ac­count of the in­ex­pli­ca­ble wealth of his chil­dren. Once in Naija, an of­fi­cial ac­cused of abus­ing pub­lic of­fice by al­lo­cat­ing land to his tod­dler and his friends - gave an epic de­fence -his ac­cusers should wait for their chance at pub­lic of­fice, and then al­lo­cate pub­lic re­sources to their en­e­mies!

With the army lead­ing the re­form, there is hope not just for Naija, but per­haps for Africa. Naija pa­tri­ots have of­ten said that if their coun­try gets it right, the whole of Africa would toe the line. Who knows, some­day soon, a sick Katsina man would find the courage to say ‘no’ to pub­lic of­fice if he knows that his health is likely to stand in the way of the rig­or­ous de­mands of the of­fice. A gov­er­nor might re­alise that pay­ing worker’s salary is not an achieve­ment nei­ther is hav­ing a grad­u­ate child when lo­cal schools are run down. That would be the day, but with the good news com­ing from the army op­ti­mism is no longer just a wish!

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