The Chief Media Consultant to the Forum of Spokespersons of Security and Response Agencies (FOSSRA), Yushau Shuaib, has resigned his appointment after three years in the post.
While in that position, Mr. Shuaib, a retired civil servant, served as intermediary between major security/response agencies and the media in Nigeria.
In a statement on Monday, Mr. Shuaib said he was engaged by a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, to serve as media consultant to military, security, intelligence and response organisations under a unified platform.
He said he also had as his core mandate the responsibility of positioning the agencies for desired public perception and changing the negative narratives regarding the war against terror.
In his notice of resignation served on the Chairman of the forum and Director of Defence Information, Rabe Abubakar, a brigadier general, Mr. Shuaib said he could no longer continue to serve FOSSRA which is under the auspices of the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) because of what he called “misleading report by the presidential committee under the same ONSA”.
He accused the committee of “unjustly accusing almost all institutions and individuals that served the office without fair hearing”.
Mr. Shuaib said, “The retired AVM Jon Ode-Presidential Panel under ONSA is merely criminalizing critical institutions and indicting groups and individuals in the media without being arraigned in the court of law where the accused could prove their innocence”.
He queried the rationale behind empowering a Panel on Procurement of Arms that is composed of retired and serving military officers to also probe contracts and services that have nothing to do with arms and ammunition.
The media consultant said “while the Jon Ode led-Panel deliberately refuses to acknowledge successes recorded by previous administration in the war on terror, the team has only succeeded in misleading the president with its biased reports that create unnecessary anxiety in the polity”.
He advised President Muhammadu Buhari to be wary of those whose stock in trade is to blackmail and destroy others apparently as a way and means of venting their anger over their past frustrations or exerting revenge against their perceived enemies or rivalries while in the service.
“I wonder if President Buhari was able to conduct comprehensive background checks on some members of the panel before their appointment. A mere google check would have provided him a glimpse on the character and ethical capital of some of these individuals who may likely be showing frustrations occasioned by stagnation in posting, arraignment before court martial for indiscipline and fund misappropriation while in service apart from those that might have served as aides to controversial figures”, he said.
Mr. Shuaib, who was defending a PR agency, Image Merchants, that has worked for security agencies since 2013 with over 20 staff on its monthly payroll said: “It is mere mischief for the Jon Ode-panel to indict an umbrella strategic communication outfit that was not involved in partisan politics but provided proofs of its assignment and paid the full taxes demanded by the panel only for the same panel to turn around and claim nothing was done just few days after an article we published exposing the lies being orchestrated that no weapons were bought by the previous administration for the prosecution of war on terror.
“The panel were even arguing with us on some contents of the published article forgetting that while most of them were on retirement we risk our live by engaging top serving military officers on various security issues and on the field which we disseminate through the media to the public.
“They seemed to be aggrieved with the disclosure in the article that the previous administration bought sophisticated weapons for the military, which included: Alpha jets, Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) APCs, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, advanced artillery pieces, assorted arms and ammunitions, highly sophisticated surveillance drones, T72 Battle Tanks and modification of F7 supersonic jet fighters”.
In the same statement, Mr. Shuaib said at the twilight of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, more than 22 towns in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states were recovered and confirmed with video and pictorial evidences through military press releases. Some of the towns recovered before the coming of President Buhari included: Abadam, Askira, Baga, Bama, Bita, BuniYadi, Damboa, Gamboru Ngala, Goniri, Gujba, Gulani, Gwoza, Hong, Konduga, Kukawa, Marte, Madagali, Michika, Monguno, Mubi, and others. A clear testimony to some of the accomplishments was the official DHQ release dated March 16, 2015 with reference No: DHQ/ABJ/901/32/DDI and a title: ‘Troops Finally Rout Terrorists from Bama and Last Stronghold in Yobe’.
He said the Jonathan’s administration achieved the feat through adequate funding of Multinational Joint Taskforce (MNJTF) and participating neighbouring countries in addition to recruitments of ‘Special M Forces’ that stormed the terrorists’ camps from the air. The combined and collaborative security efforts, according to the consultant, weakened Boko Haram terrorists from disrupting the 2015 general elections, which Mr. Buhari eventually won.
“Surprisingly an article published by an aide of President Buhari eulogizing former NSA Dasuki over the accomplishments in the war against terror by Jonathan’s administration, which Shuaib cited in his article, has been deleted from the website of the news media that published it. The original article where the media link was provided can still be read from this”, Mr. Shuaib said.
He said while the Jon Ode Panel deliberately refused to appreciate PR intervention in crisis management, he claimed “For genuine reasons and concern, our strategic team managed many humiliating and embarrassing reports from leakages, including alleged terrorists’ attacks in the hometowns of top security officers in the current administration.”
The consultant warned that: “While it is wrong to criminalize the military by subjecting their officers to scrutiny in an agency headed by a policeman, it is appalling the continued exposure of our judiciary to public ridicule in the sensationalised anti-corruption campaigns. In this context, it is foolhardy for anyone to now contemplate using a PR agency to rubbish media integrity as another critical stakeholder. PR people engage the media professionally and responsibly to achieve strategic objectives.
“I strongly believe that President Muhammadu Buhari is being misled with negative and predetermined reports that continue to portray Nigeria as the most corrupt nation when he should be encouraged to address the current problems of weak Naira, fuel crises, poor electricity supply, sky rocketing costs of living among other economic challenges which are denting the image of the administration. President Buhari certainly does not need lies and distractive propaganda at this critical period.
“Since the President is neither a god to be worshipped nor a devil to be feared, General Muhammadu Buhari deserves love and respect of the citizens through transparency and motivating demeanour which are characteristics of a compassionate leader. My position on incorruptibility and integrity of Buhari is an open secret through my writings over two decades, right from the university days. We stand for Buhari not out of fear as if every Nigerian is a criminal; we love and pray for his success as a national leader. We therefore urge the President to be wary of vested interests who are clearly capitalizing on his sincerity and trust for their own proxy wars.
“We honoured the invitation to serve our nation out of patriotism and we dutifully provided our services as crisis communicators diligently and professionally. While acknowledging the moral supports and encouragement from critical stakeholders, we will continue to volunteer, support and render the services responsibly. We would never abandon our clients, partners and friends especially those who are unduly victimized and vilified”.
“Meanwhile we will soon be in the court to clear our name from the unfortunate media trial of indictment that has been used consistently to unjustly rubbish reputations of institutions and individuals without following the rule of law or due process”, he said.
Mr. Shuaibu said members of FOSSRA include spokespersons from Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Nigerian Army (NA), Nigerian Airforce (NAF), Nigerian Navy (NN), Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Department of State Security Service (DSS), the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Prison Service (NPS), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Federal Fire Service (FFS), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).