In a concerted effort to bolster national security and foster unity, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) recently conducted a strategic-level training program, equipping 87 participants with essential skills in Psychological Operations (PSYOP) and Strategic Communication. The intensive training aimed to empower participants to effectively address prevailing challenges and contribute to the overall development and cohesion of Nigeria. This strategic-level training program brought together a diverse group of professionals, including a team of Stractcom Experts from UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Nigerian military personnel, communication experts from ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal and State Governments as well as traditional/religious institutions, and intelligence analysts. Facilitated by seasoned experts in the field such as the Minister for Information and National Orientation and the Minister of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy. The program covered a wide range of topics, including Non-kinetic Operations and the Nigerian Armed Forces delivered by the Chief of Defence Staff and Cyberspace Information Disorder and its Implications to National Security by the Hon. Minister of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy among other referred resource persons. Also, members of the media and civil society organizations will be in attendance.
At the opening ceremony, the keynote lecturer the Chief of Defence Staff General CG Musa delivered a lecture titled Understanding Non-kinetic Operations And Non-kinetic Capabilities For Irregular Warfare ably represented by the Director of Training Major General D Mathew. During the presentation, he emphasized that the traditional notion of war is gradually being discarded and modern states are now seeking to possess and apply non-kinetic capabilities to project power, secure interests and solve problems. He stated further that the Non-kinetic approach entails the use of informational, psychological, diplomatic, economic, social and civil-military cooperation as part of instruments of national power to pursue national interests.
In a communique issued at the end of the five-day intensive training course with the theme; “Winning Hearts and Minds for National Cohesion and Development,” participants urged the government to adequately fund the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to discharge its statutory responsibilities of promoting national unity, harmony and national cohesion.
While calling on the media and traditional institutions to play major roles in shaping public attitudes, they pointed out that inter-agency collaboration should be sustained, especially among security services for coordinated activities for national safety and security. “That Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should be engaged in addressing ethnic and religious intolerance through grassroots initiatives. Recognizing the media and cyberspace as the 5th Operational domain of modern warfare, the experts recommended the need for the Nigerian Armed Forces to leverage Information communication technology with the aid of artificial intelligence and data analytics to build applications to combat Disinformation, Misinformation, Fake News and Hate speeches to improve synergy and operational effectiveness.
In his closing remarks, the Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI), Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Undiandeye said the course was organized to boost security experts’ understanding of the dynamics of psychological operations and strategic communication with the intent of reconnecting with communities and enlighten them on the importance of lawful conduct. Represented by the Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal S. Chinda, the CDI promised to look into the recommendations in the communique and forward it to relevant authorities and institutions for consideration.”
Also speaking at the event, the Director Psychological Operation at DIA, Mrs CA Usman, mni said the participants of the course were carefully selected from the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Intelligence communities, Para-military agencies, media personnel, traditional rulers, government officials, and representatives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs among others. Responding to questions during the interactive session stated emphatically that “Kidnapping is not a business” thus government at all level need PSYOPs and STRACTCOM to counter the negative narrative that it’s a lucrative business in nigeria.
She said: “The course was aimed at creating awareness on the application of tools of STRATCOMM and PSYOPS instruments in the attainment of national cohesion and development.
“We hope that the participants of the course who are now better informed will go back to their respective MDAs thereby utilizing the skills acquired in shaping the behaviours, attitudes, minds, perceptions and opinions of the target audience in line with the goals of national security objectives and values.
- After lectures, interactive sessions and syndicate groups’ presentations, the participants made the following recommendations:
- The workshop should be sustained boosting the skills of relevant target participants with the latest thinking and techniques of PSYOPS and STRACOMM to address societal challenges
- There is an urgent need to establish a Joint Coordinating Centre with a mandate to regulate PSYOPS activities in Nigeria
- The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) should consider the establishment of an inter-agency committee on PSYOPS and STRATCOMM
- That the media and traditional institutions should play major roles in shaping public attitudes and through their respective channels of communication
- That inter-agency collaboration should be sustained especially among security services for coordinated activities for national safety and security
- Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Community-based Organisations (CBOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) should be engaged in addressing ethnic and religious intolerance through grassroots initiatives
- Security agencies should explore the potential of new technological tools including Artificial Intelligence (AI) Tools and Data Analytics to enhance the security and effectiveness of PSYOPS and STRATCOMM
- There is a need for a National Policy backed by legal frameworks to regulate the activities of digital media and social media to guard against fake news and hate speeches
- The National Orientation Agency (NOA) should be adequately funded to discharge its statutory responsibilities of promoting national unity, harmony and national cohesion
- Earlier, the Minister of Communications, Innovations and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tajani highlighted the impact of the technological revolution on Psychological warfare.