The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Wednesday urged the media to continue to work with the Nigerian Army and the entire Armed Forces in the interest of national security.
Buratai made the appeal after the Chief Executive Officer and Editor-In-Chief of the “The Politico Magazine,’’ Alhaji Mustapha Shehu, presented him with the magazine’s 2016 “Man of the Year’’ award.
“I want to state that the media is a partner in national security.
“We, army don’t have the monopoly of the total security or defence of our country. We must work together to ensure total security and defence of our country.
“Although there are challenges along the line, the ultimate objective or whatever action that is taken is with the aim of safeguarding our sovereignty, our dignity as a nation and indeed the general well being and safety of all our country men and women,’’ he said.
The chief of army staff said that whatever service he had rendered to merit the award was done for the nation.
He dedicated the award to the entire leadership of the army, as well as commanders in various units and formation of the army across the country.
“We have done the service to our country in accordance with the constitutional provision. These are duties that we are bound to perform.
“I want to say that in the course of performing this very national assignment, we have been identified and appreciated. We want to say thank you to The Politico Magazine.
“I dedicate this award to the leadership of the Nigerian army.
“It is not only the chief of army staff that is responsible for all the successes that have been achieved.
“It is a combination of hard work, dedication and selflessness on the part of all the Principal Staff Officers, the Directors in the army headquarters and commanders in the field .
“It is a collective responsibility; it is a collective effort toward galvanising and mobilising the troops to achieve the objective of securing our country,’’ the army chief said.
Earlier, Shehu noted that although the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guaranteed freedom of the press and assigned it the role of holding government accountable, such freedom is limited.
“Yes, the constitutional role assigned to the media is to hold the government accountable to the public.
“We must, however, understand that this freedom is not absolute and we must carry out our functions within the rule of law, else, who would hold us accountable?
“In democracy, a corrupt media is worst than a corrupt judiciary. These two institutions are the last hope of the common man.
“If we fail, we have failed the entire nation and posterity. We must, therefore, constantly search our souls and remain professional and true to our calling,’’ he said.
Shehu said that having led the army to decimate, degrade and dislodge the Boko Haram terrorists from their strong hold in the North-East, Buratai deserved the award.
“That Gen. Buratai is deserving of this award is not in doubt.
“Even his arch enemies, leaders of the Boko Haram but cannot concord with us, if in their sober moment, they tarry a while and review their brutal adventure, for they have heard from the General in a loud and clear voice.
“And I believe they will continue to hear from him.
“While we sleep in the comfort of our bed, you are out crawling in the bushes with serpents and other creatures, staking your life so that the rest of us could live in peace.
“There is therefore, no profession or job nor vocation nor trade nor employment as dangerous as soldiering, the editor-in-chief said.
He said that Buratai was nominated as the magazine’s 2016 Man of the Year after a meticulous selection process.
It will be recalled that General Buratai and the Nigerian Army have been involved in a series of spats with leading online publication, Premium Times over the newspaper’s so-called negative coverage of the ongoing anti-insurgency war.
The development had led to the arrest of the publication’s publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi and reporter Evelyn Okakwu, by the police over alleged criminal libel at the instance of Buratai