The Forum of Spokespersons of Security and Response Agencies, FOSSRA, has re-launched its monthly interface with the Nigerian media where it provides information about the security situation in the country.
FOSSRA meeting with Defence correspondents began in 2014 at the height of the fight against Boko Haram. It was initiated by the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA, in order to curb the different versions to an event that were released by the various security outfits at the time.
The forum, which was headed by a former Defence Spokesperson, Chris Olukolade, used to meet the media once every month. However, only few meetings were held in 2016.
The new Chairman of the Forum and Spokesperson of the Defence headquarter, Rabe Abubakar, a Major General, who chaired the re-launch of the forum on Monday said it has “finally come to stay”.
Mr. Abubakar said FOSSRA was set up to stop the prevalence of conflicting reports in the past by security and response agencies.
“There was weak coordination and non-existent harmonization of information released to the media by the agencies.
It was more like an unhealthy competition and bitter rivalry as agencies that are ought to be working towards our national security goals were striving to outwit each other on disseminating information,” he said.
Mr. Abubakar said the security agencies consider the media as partners in the promotion of the overall well being of all Nigerians. He therefore, sought for the partnership of the Nigerian media.
“We specifically invited the media for their cooperation as we re-launch the forum and rekindle the spirit of partnership between the security sector and the media.
“This paradigm shift is very important now more than ever before. We want to once again seek your hands of fellowship and to bridge the communication gap between the security agencies and the media which hitherto may not have been very smooth,” he said.
The FOSSRA chairman also urged the media to focus their reporting of security issues to foster national security and harmonious coexistence in the interest of national unity.
“The media should help educate the citizenry against hate and divisive messages and comments that are prevalent especially in the social media domain,” he said.
Mr. Abubakar also said henceforth, FOSSRA is the only recognised body of spokespersons of security and response agencies in Nigeria.
“No other such platform is allowed to operate anywhere in the country. This is duly communicated to and approved by the National Security Adviser and the Chief of Defence Staff.
“FOSSRA has the capacity to serve both strategic and operational purposes considering the critical role of information management in the success or otherwise of any security or intelligence operations.
“We believe that FOSSRA fits into the strategic communication inter-agency policy and coordination to ensure synchronization and implementation of strategic communication plans which is coming up soon,” he said.
Also, the Executive Secretary Centre for Crisis Communication, CCC, the partners of the security agencies in the forum, Yusuf Anas, a retired Air Commodore, said the establishment of FOSSRA and its partners has reduced the incidence of conflicting information management and sharing during crisis situation.
He said the Forum has been playing a very important role in informing Nigerians on what the security and response agencies are doing across the country.
While commending the re-launch of the forum, Mr. Anas said: “The Centre for Crisis Communication is a brain-child of FOSSRA and the Secretariat of the forum which has 17 agencies from the military, security, intelligence and response agencies as members.
“ The re-launch of the forum would encourage healthy interactions and exchange of ideas among the agencies for national stability and development. It is my candid prayer that this year shall usher in for us even a more robust relationship,” he said.