By Kasim SumainaÂ in Abuja
Presidential Committee on the Northeast Initiatives (PCNI) has said that the rebuilding process of one of the destroyed community ravaged by the activities of Boko Haram insurgents, Bama Local Government Area of Borno State, was now 90% completed.
Disclosing this to newsmen at a three-day workshop organised for Journalists and Social media influentials with the theme: Utilising New Media for Humanitarian and Development Reportage in Damaturu, Yobe State, Head, Strategic Communications & Media, PCNI, Alkasim Abdulkadir, noted that, Bama was a community that was 100% destroyed by Boko Haram but at the moment, the rebuilding process was up to 90% level.
According to him, “As part of our efforts to ensure that the Northeast bounces back, we are committed this year to rebuilding an entire community like Bama and Dikwa, building schools, hospitals, police stations, so that the Northeast can begin to go back as it was in the past and even better.”Â
Abdulkadir, explained that, gradually, people would slowly migrate back to Bama where it had been certified that there is a certain level of safety. Adding that, “I give you an example, last week, next week and through the coming months, people will slowly migrate back to Bama.”Â
He hinted that, one ofÂ the primary reasons PCNI was holding the workshop was that, “if you look at the Northeast in the last nine years, you would discover that a lot of the media assets in the Northeast had been degraded and you will also discovered that there are not enough reporters and journalists covering the Northeast.Â
“We are in the age of New Media whereby, to get information, youÂ need correctness and immediacy and a lot is happening in terms of our humanitarian and developmental efforts by government.Â
“So, we are training people so that they can help tell Nigerians and the world what is actually happening in our environment. If you look at the way insurgents in the Northeast uses the new media, you will discovered that, they know the psych behind it and you will discovered that they are doing this to achieve a particular aim to show what theyÂ portend and that they are in control and all others.”
He said: “In other words, government needs to use the same medium to tell the people despite the battle has been won, it now remain for the Nigeria to win the battle of the mind, because; in preventing and countering violence extremism, the use of New Media is very important.Â
“The government need to tell the people that we are rebuilding towns /cities and that, this is the x money we have spent in ensuring that we are given better lives. It is important that, in countering the narratives of the insurgents, we use New Media to achieve it.”
He stated that the Boko Haram insurgents decided to use the new media to deceive and delude the youths, “That is actually the huge contradiction that has become a burden to the insurgents.Â
“That is why we must activate preventive and countering violent extremism so that we can bring out the gray and dark areas so that we can tell the people this is the actual aim of the insurgents and they must not be allowed to use it in perpetuating the evil that the insurgents represent.Â
Speaking further,Â Abdulkadir revealed that, betweenÂ January and April 2018, PCNI had targeted about 25,000 people to treat free of charge in the Northeast. “We have gone round Borno State, Adamawa, Yobe, Taraba, Gombe and Bauchi State, in providing people with free medical personnel, either people that have problems with their eyes, people that need dental care, surgeries, people that just need general diagnosis. We are going round providing them with free medical cares.”
He said, “We have been able to address issues of shortages of medical personnel in conjunction with the states whereby the locals, through our interventions and the Federal Ministry of Health has been able to get the anti-retro-viral drugs they need to be able to address the HIV/AIDS issue.Â We have also gone a state further to ensure that there is public advocacy in reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in these particular communities.”
He however said, “Well the work we are doing are governed by International conventions. Most important is that there is an international convention called the Kampala declaration and it says that you cannot take people from safety to harm. We only work based on the instructions of the Nigerian military and the Nigerian Security high command.Â
“When they certify a certain area as safe, we now begin the process of reconstruction of that particular area and when the reconstruction is completed and the army still certifies it as safe, then, we begin to migrate people from where they are to their respective communities,” said Abdulkadir.
In his earlier address, Chairman ofÂ the Occasion, Engr. Babagoni Machida, stated that, terrorist groups have come to realised that the power of the new media and as such, “have used it effectively to deceive, delude and influence people particularly our youths.”
He noted that the country must rise up to this challenge through various reportage via the same platforms and counter messages of hate with messages of hope and tolerance.
Machida, who represented the Vice Chairman, Presidential Committee on the Northeast Initiative (PCNI), Alhaji Tijjani Tumsah, said, “For communicators in the North East, social media platforms have become critical channels of reporting events in the region via Blogs pages, Instagram, Twitter, Imo, Periscope, Watsapp and other avenues which influence public perceptions.”