National Security, from my perspective, is defined as a multidisciplinary subject which ranges from the core values of our society, national enterprise such as Defense, internal security, economic security, food security, security interest of the people and technological security.
Concept of national security has become an extremely challenging task where restrictions have been introduced to State issues
Unfortunately, the term “national security” has long been used as a symbolic concept of a policy which has a wide and ambiguous meanings.
Some definitions equate the concept of national security to the State and Centre all related policies revolving around Nation . However, there has been a change in the school of thought of strategists wherein the concept of national security has changed merely from the security of the State to the security of the citizens.
In the view of Water Lippmann (1943), a nation is secure to the extent to which it is not in danger of having to sacrifice societal core values.
The need to safeguard the political system, society and its people have become important to the overall national security. Consequently, National Security, as a concept in the contemporary structure of a Nation, is highly entwined with the ease of governance and our constitution provides the key to our national security policy
The concept of national security is theorized into two broad classifications:
The recognition and Preservation of State Security based on territory
Societal security based on fundamental human right, protection of life and property
These assumptions remain interdependent on national security architecture of a nation.
The media and national security policy of a nation have a strong connection in the contemporary environment and this connection is better understood by public opinion in times of war or internal and international crises.
The Mass Media
Print Media (Newspapers and Magazines)
Electronic Media (TV & Radio)
Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Digital Journalism -Online Media)
The Responsibility of the Media
The primary focus of the media is on issues that benefit the general public. The media has a responsibility to uphold fairness, justice, national unity and international cooperation.
The traditional role of the media in any society is to inform, educate, entertain, publicize and most importantly correct the excesses in any society.
The media is a means of communication that reaches or influences people widely.
It has a significant place in the statecraft machinery especially in the age of information revolution
It is the source of information for a society regarding any issue, be it local, regional or global.
People rely and even trust what is presented to them by the media
The Media as the Fourth estate and watchdog of the society plays crucial role in national development.
The media shapes the perceptions of government, and influences public opinion, promote democracy, good governance as well as influence peoples’ behaviour and support people- oriented policies.
The media as a strong instrument for nation sovereignty is also referred to as the vanguard for political, economic and social development.
As stated earlier, the dynamics of media impact on national security varies from country and cannot be underestimated.
In develop countries, the attention and support people give to issues is in direct proportion to the amount media coverage.
American government has invaded and fought several wars with different countries, for example, the media was embedded in the operation Iraqi freedom war. This enabled a constant flow of braking news report to both American and international audiences through television cable channels and their internet web sites.
The integration of the media in the prosecution of the Iraqi war greatly influenced the opinion of the Americans. It is on record that the media coverage swayed options in favour of the American Government.
The Dynamics of Media Impact on National Security
The dynamics of media impact on national security are different and varying from country to country
The Nigeria media derives its functional legitimacy from Chapter 2, Sections 22 of the 1999 Constitutions, which expects the media to keep a check on the routine activities of the authorities, hold government accountable for good governance and assist the citizens to evaluate the efficiency of the government.
The effective execution of the role of the media as required by the 1999 constitution will adequately promote national security as defined from my perspective earlier.
The media in Nigeria is constrained by a number of factors. These include:
The Concept of “Security breach”
Intimidation and arrest
Official Secrets Act
The Concept of “Security Breach”
In carrying out the onerous reportage task, the journalists faces an inner dilemma that is evident as a conflict between professional responsibilities to report the truth no matter how it reflects on one’s country.
The main issue regarding national security –media relation is the problem between secrecy and free society. This is not peculiar to Nigeria, for example in 2008, the government of the former Prime Minister of United Kingdom, David Cameroon was reported to have classified Journalist as a threat to national security, treating and placing them routinely as terrorist and criminal hackers in its threat indices
However, in Nigeria, the relationship between the media and security agencies is of mutual suspicion. In fact, the main issue regarding the national security- media relation is the problem between secrecy and free society.
The media have had several issues with the Military, Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the State Security Service (SSS) over what these security agencies term “official secret” or ” national security breach”
Journalists have been invited for questioning just because certain key persons or government policies have been criticized by the media. Security operatives believes and think that once the President or the IGP, DG SSS or Army Chiefs are criticized by the media, it amounts to a breach of security.
May, I ask this distinguish audience, if a Reporter had gotten a scoop sometimes in 2014 that the billions of dollars earmarked for the purchase of weaponry meant for the prosecution of the terror war at the North East part of the country have been embezzled by some government officials, I am hundred percent certain, the media house and the Reporter who wrote the story would have been arrested by either the Police or the SSS for security breach.
Every day, we read about the Dasukigate and how a few opportunists took advantage of the weakness of the media and the system to swindle the nation. Today we are all paying the price for the ills of the few amongst us.
For fear of intimidation and arrest, media practitioners have shot their eyes to flagrant corruption and abuse of office by some government officials and their cronies. The predicament of the media is how to establish what is “national security” The question here is, how do we determine what is national security? Security for whom? Who is breaching what? By what means? And Security at what time?
Corruption in the Media
I would like to crave the indulgence of this gathering not to get me wrong, I have not come here to absolve the media of corruption, and rather I would like to say the media is equally culpable of the corruption tag. We have had instances of how private media owners have compromised the sanity of their organizations, plants bias stories in their medium for their pecuniary benefits. One of such example is the Dasukigate exposé’ wherein some media entrepreneur were alleged to have collected whooping sums of money from the office of the National Security Adviser for media campaigns and reimbursement of the seizure of their newspapers by the military.
Brown envelope is a syndrome where journalist receive gratification to either suppress, plant or manipulate news item. Some private media owners have also compromise the sanity of their organizations.
Bias, monetary inducement and blackmail. The media in some cases have fallen under the influence of government, money bags and religious bigots to color or out rightly disseminate falsehood. In recent times, there have been numerous complaints about the exploits of some online media practitioners who have used their medium to publish untrue stories or out rightly blackmail some prominent citizens. .
The Dynamics of Media Impact on National Security
To be candid, in recent times, the media particularly the online media practitioners has not lived above bias, monetary inducement and blackmail.
Official Secrets Act
It was for the purpose of protecting national security and to forestall the ugly trend of reporting falsehood the Freedom of Information Act was passed into law in 2011. The Act provide the media unhindered access to public information. Unfortunately, the Act has not significantly change the situation of inadequate access to government information.
All government agencies still operate the Official Secrets Act which prohibits the collection, possession and dissemination of official information and State secrets.
However, let me state that the role of the media in a democratic society is not to take national security into consideration, it is not to implement national policy. The media is meant to be aggressive, skeptical, and suspicious of the government policies on behalf of the society.
Today journalist is not just an observer but also an active player in the national security enterprise. Like any other enterprise, the media is aware of its responsibility to the society in an era in which the tradeoff between liberty and security is one of crucial issues. In society, individuals and groups seek security against the state just as they ask the state to protect them against harm from other state. Human right and state security are thus related. The most profound choice in terms of national security is the interchange with liberty.
After all Benjamin Franklin once said “those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither”. We have to make some difficult choices between the liberty of the society and security. However, we must be aware of the meaning of both words. The link between the media and security is so tight and so risky to say which is most important to the society.
The Way Forward for Nigeria
The Nigeria media practitioners and the Federal government needs to develop a common understanding of our core values and national security.
For better appraisal and inference of the media role in national security, we must assess the concept of governance and threat reduction as part of the overall security architecture and help the media to examine the detection or gathering of intelligence, prevention or pre-emption of national security issues while covering government related stories.
The interest of the nation, security operatives must understand that media equally has a constitutional role to play in nation building. They therefore, should not see the media as the enemy of the country, rather capacity building on the area of security reportage should be encouraged.
There must be synergy between the security agencies and the media practitioners in the interest of national security.
The media should also rise to the expectation of the public and use its powers judiciously.
Therefore, there should be a paradigm shift on the part of government, security agencies and its operatives. A starting point for analyzing the national security-media linkage needs a multivariable factorial design. This is because in today world, technological advances in communication have made the world a global village. Media phenomenon has changed. The international media such as the CNN and BBC with their modern communication technology have no boundary. They present raw events almost at real time without considering any national security issue. It is my opinion that national level making decisions and security has been altered by the 24/7 news coverage of the international media. Take for example, the Chibok issue. People needs and wants to be informed about issues as it unfolds.
The government and its security agencies must understand the media and the singular power possesses. In this way government can make informed decisions by treating the media as a critical element in the national security architecture. The government must take the bad with the good and understand that this relationship and its impact on national security decision-making. The relationship between the media and security is a complex one, as such, it requires a great degree of care and cultural change through the acceptance of the media as a stakeholder in the business of national security.