The former Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade (retd), has identified inadequacy in the level of cooperation among security agencies in the country as having serious negative impact not just on their operations, but on the nation’s collective interest, most especially on national security and economy.
Olukolade said recent events in the country serve as a pointer to the fact that there are still traces of disharmony, lack of cooperation and synergy in operation and information management among security agencies.
Illustrating the reason why synergy in government activities remains a major component of vital processes for achieving the purpose of government, Olukolade said: “For instance, allegations leading to court ruling on alleged media trial as reported by Colonel Nicholas Ashinze and consequent embarrassing ruling against another government outfit could certainly have been avoided.”
In a paper titled: “Achieving Synergy Between National Security And The Economy: The Place Of Effective Public Relations,” delivered recently at the Second Quarterly Lecture of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Oyo State Chapter, in Ibadan, the former Army spokesperson examined the place of effective PR practice in the effort to achieve synergy between national security and the economy in Nigeria.
Olukolade said it was the concern for the need to have an harmonized information dissemination system within the security agencies that led to the establishment of the Forum of Spokespersons in Security and Response Agencies in 2013 as part of the counter terrorism drives of the country.
The public relations expert stressed that the existence of government hinges on two factors: national security and the economy, hence the need for every country to pursue both economic and security goals in a coordinated manner.
Advancing the role of public relations, he said: “The application and practice of PR being an indispensable tool in building relationship, achieving synergy and creating mutual understanding between individual and between organizations, stands a very good chance in helping to attain the necessary synergy between national security and the economy.
“Along with advocacy and legislation, PR has often come in handy as a component of the lobby processes towards achieving the required smooth synergy among state institution interests or entities. Lobbying is not easy, neither is it for everyone.”
According to Olukolade, the security situation in Nigeria for the past 10 years has remained a challenge for the security agencies and he identified the major sources of threats to the nation being bordered mostly on the activities of militants, socio-political/ethno-religious violence and proliferation of small arms.
He said: ““The spread of activities of militants, terrorists and bandits poses a serious challenge to the nation more so as such activities often go beyond Nigeria’s borders, with serious diplomatic implications and consequences. The capacity of the military and security agencies to perform in handling the challenges will continue to be of interest locally and abroad.
“Militants and terrorist are noted for aiming their activities towards achieving psychological point or advantage. By this they hope to attract the attention of the Federal Government and the international community through the huge economic loses that often result from the success of any of their activities, strikes or attacks. Meanwhile the activities and the attacks by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and other militant groups continue to negatively affect oil production as well as the security of lives and property in the Nigeria Delta region.
“It is just obvious that Insecurity has impacted negatively on our quest for national development, impoverished the citizens, created tensions, frightened off foreign investors and created a state of instability that only aids underdevelopment and insecurity. The fact that National security and economic security are intricately linked as one cannot exist without the other has been proved in the nation’s situation as elsewhere.”
This, Olukolade said, implies that no country can thrive economically in an environment of insecurity as was demonstrated by the Boko Haram insurgency and militancy in the Niger Delta region, adding that the Boko Haram insurgency has decimated the economy of the North East, impoverished the region and escalated the levels of insecurity, poverty and disease in the region.
Olukolade explained that it is just obvious that Insecurity has impacted negatively on our quest for national development, impoverished the citizens, created tensions, frightened off foreign investors and created a state of instability that only aids underdevelopment and insecurity.
He stressed that no matter how complex and divergent the concepts of national security and the economy may seem, PR continues to have a vital role to play in making smooth the complex relationships between the two pursuits towards ensuring a harmonious interaction between the nation’s security and the economy at any time.
The manifestation of these threats across the nation, he suggested, should be of interest to the (PR) practitioners, stressing: “It is the duty of PR practitioners to prevent the escalation of misunderstanding or clashes among or between the various components.
“Since there is bound to be national security and economic security issues to be resolved, it is our duty as PR practitioners to establish processes for coordinating the messages coming into the public domain from the operators of the nation’s security and economic systems, the PR element should be the authoritative voice of the government as far as his sector is concerned. The information machinery of government should build trust within government and between the people and the government.
“The job of the communication machinery of government is to ensure that messages are synergised among the divergent component parts in a complementary manner because effective communication is the heart and soul of any PR plan.
“PR elements of security agencies need to install processes for effective liaison to promote inter agency cooperation across the whole spectrum of all their areas of operation. The practitioners of PR in security circles and the economy sector generally, must know how to mobilize the public to have correct attitude towards the social and political perception on issues of security and economy concerns.”
For any meaningful progress to be made in achieving synergy between national security and the economy, Olukolade further suggested that government should professionalize its communication delivery systems stressing that only communication trained PR specialists or professionals should be employed to manage communication in these two important sectors.
He as well suggested training and retraining of PR practitioners as paramount in achieving synergy between national security and the economy, saying ,training is a necessary tool that would ensure that all agencies of government concerned with national security and the economy work at a common purpose.