By Abdulaziz Salisu
With the advancement in technology and the influence of internet-based resources for effective communication, the Nigerian military has been urged to tackle insurgency through social media.
Speaking as a Guest Lecturer at the Air War College, AWC, in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, Yushau Shuaib, a renowned PR guru and brain behind the 2016 Global Award winner in Crisis Communication and expert in social media, pointed out that the battle ground has shifted from physical combat to cyberspace where social media is the tool of engagement.
“The military needs to train and equip social media warriors whose responsibility is to engage the audience with truthful, factual and convincing arguments of operations towards the well-being and better informed public,” he said.
Mr Shuaib, who is also the publisher of PRNigeria, Nigeria’s foremost news releases platform, delivered a paper to senior military officers on “Managing the influence of Social Media on Military Operations.”
“The enemies are hidden in their cocoon using the social media in recruiting volunteers, mobilizing resources and attacking public consciousness, mostly through threats of violence and terrorism.
“The military as an institution that can effectively counter terrorism should realise that conventional weapons have their limitations in psychological warfare. They should therefore explore the benefit of Social Media which is cost effective for engaging large audience; providing adequate Information; responding timely to enquiries; sharing educative media data and coordinating activities with different groups”, he said.
Speaking on the future of Social Media, Mr Shuaib said the future is already manifesting in the current generation, stressing that “The future is already here and now”.
He said officers responsible for information management and communication should realise that an office is no more confined to a physical wall.
“We are in an age of mobile office, working 24/7, streaming live video in real time to the satisfaction of our audiences.
“In the next few years wearable gadgets will become the major tools while stiffer competition between the media houses and in-house PR team will become prevalent as each party competes for large followership on the social media,” he added.
While observing that some security agencies and officials have refused to embrace the social media for primordial reasons, he urged them to change their mindset.
“It is baffling that some top officials take delight in discrediting the social media and refuse to embrace the technology. Their reluctance and absence on social media only compels fraudsters to clone their identities on the platforms for nefarious activities.
“I must commend the current Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar for embracing the social Media by engaging his audience regularly with latest reports on the activities of the NAF and its commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility.
“Similarly, former military spokesperson General Chris Olukolade, has demonstrated how Twitter could be effectively deployed for regular news updates; while the current Army spokesperson, Brigadier General Sani Usman Kukasheka directly engages his Facebook audience with images and stories from theatre of military operation,” he cited examples.
In his remarks after the presentation, the Commandant of the Nigeria Airforce Air War College, Air Vice Marshall J.K Baba said the establishment of the college was in tandem with the vision of Air Chief to reposition NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building initiatives for efficient, effective and timely employment of air power in response to Nigeria’s security imperatives.
The Director of Academic Affairs of the college, Air Commodore Idi Lubo speaking on behalf of the students of the AWC, commended the lecturer for his well-researched paper and the interactive nature of the presentation which took two hours.