Six journalists from Nigeria spent this week learning about the U.S. Africa Command.
Accompanied by U.S. Embassy Abuja staff, they wrapped up a week of orientation and peer tours of local media with an opportunity to ask AFRICOM senior leaders their most pressing questions.
The journalists were invited by AFRICOM Public Affairs and selected by the U.S. Embassy Abuja staff as an initiative to enhance journalists’ understanding of the AFRICOM mission on the continent.
“What a great opportunity for us; we’ve learned so much and appreciate the great hospitality of AFRICOM,” exclaimed Mr. Chukwuma Agbanusi, Senior Editor and Reporter for Radio Nigeria.
“We are honored and grateful to the U.S. Africa Command, to host this delegation and help show us how to build relationships with media in our country,” stated Colonel Mohammed Yerima, Director, Defence Information, Nigerian Armed Forces.
With briefs on the AFRICOM mission and activities combined with peer tours of media in the Stuttgart area, the week culminated with the Nigerian journalists having their turn to interview the senior leaders of AFRICOM, General Carter F. Ham, Commander, and Ambassador Christopher Dell, Deputy to the Commander for Civil-Military Activities.
Members of the media delegation included journalists, Ms. Tolulope Adeleru, Radio Presenter, Cool FM Lagos; Mr. Chukwuma Agbanusi, Senior Editor/Reporter, Radio Nigeria; Ms. Constance Athekame, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN); Mr. Ademola Oni, News Editor, Punch Newspapers; Mr. Madu Onuorah, Acting Abuja Bureau Chief, The Guardian Newspapers and Mr. Ado Warawa, Head of News and Current Affairs, Freedom Radio 99.5 FM. Other participants included Colonel Mohammed Yerima, Director, Defence Information, Nigerian Armed Forces and Group Captain Adedayo Makun, Deputy Director, Directorate of Defence Information, Defence Headquarters Abuja. The delegation was escorted by U.S. Embassy staff Ms. Deborah MacLean, Information Officer, Mr. Sani Mohammed, Senior Information Specialist, and Mr. Joseph Megwalu, Budget Analyst/Administrative Officer, Office of Security Cooperation.
Noted was the way in which the Nigerian journalists engaged each time they asked a question, in a manner very different from what we are used to hearing from Western journalists, instead, their manner was very soft spoken. But like journalists anywhere, they were direct in their questions.
Among the questions asked were why the command is located in Stuttgart, to more current operations.
Gen. Ham emphasized in his responses that Africa must lead in solutions for the continent, adding, “We can assist when asked by our leaders. Military is not the solution, but can be a component of the solution. Prevention is - a capable, competent military force. That’s why so much effort is made to help with the type of military needed – not what we need, but what the African militaries need, to provide security. The people who least like military action are soldiers.”
Amb. Dell added, “Economic growth comes about when you have an environment where it is safe to go about your lives. We assist to foster good government.”
Gen. Ham concluded, “Let me close by saying your presence here is important. A fundamental for freedom is a free and open press who can tell us what’s going on; remember what Amb. Dell said earlier, that there is a completion for ideas, so your role is very important.”