A senior Nigerian official says President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has launched a nationwide sensitization campaign to inform citizens about the government’s effort to improve security, combat terrorism and update people on the search for over 200 school girls abducted by the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.
Mike Omeri, the director general of Nigeria’s National Orientation Agency, and Coordinator of National Information Center says security agencies will be involved in distributing printed materials in various languages across the country.
The rationale behind the sensitization program, Omeri says, is to empower and engage citizens about the administration’s effort to combat terrorism and violence carried out by Boko Haram militants.
“It’s a counter-terrorism awareness campaign material and it would be distributed in neighborhoods, in the media and so forth and so on. It provides useful tips and other telephone contacts,” said Omeri. “It’s one of the several measures that are being put in place, and this has been up and coming for a long time. Even before now, we have been having community awareness and civic responsibility campaigns,” he said.
Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms will be used in the administration’s sensitization efforts, according to Omeri.
The government has been criticized over its slow response to the abduction of the school girls in Chibok.
Opposition groups also say the administration has failed in its constitutional mandate to protect civilians from harm and insecurity. They contend that measures the government has so far taken including ongoing curfews in some parts of the country’s North have failed to prevent violence carried out by Boko Haram in those areas.
Omeri dismissed the accusations as politically motivated. He says the administration has been working with international partners to combat Boko Haram terrorism.
“[The] government has risen to the challenge of the moment by deploying and seeking help. If government was not doing anything at all, it wouldn’t have sought for help internationally, it wouldn’t have mobilized its own international assets towards providing security and rescuing the girls,” said Omeri.
Omeri also dismissed media reports that some senior officials of the military have been found guilty at a military court for allegedly providing logistical and intelligence information to Boko Haram militants.
“This is speculative and unconfirmed,” said Omeri. “The military has an internal way of handling its issues. Like in this matter, if there is any issue related to that it would have been taken to the public space by the military itself. I’ve had a meeting just a little while ago with the director of defense information, and he couldn’t confirm it. So it is not confirmed this is just speculation.”
Clottey interview with Mike Omeri, head of the National Orientation Agency