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Countering Boko Haram Insurgency and Terrorism: Assessment of Media Campaigns

Ibrahim Uba Yusuf*

Department of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria

*Corresponding Author:
Ibrahim Uba Yusuf
Department of Mass Communication
University of Maiduguri, Borno State
Tel: 234 800 000 0000
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: Janaury 16, 2019; Accepted date: Janaury 24, 2019; Published date: Janaury 29, 2019

Citation: Yusuf IU. Countering Boko Haram Insurgency and Terrorism: Assessment of Media Campaigns. Global Media Journal 2019, 17:32.

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This study assessed selected media campaigns used in the on-going Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency Operations in North East Nigeria. The essence of this research was inspired by the renewed onslaught of Boko Haram activities on soft targets, the use of minors for suicide mission as well as a new tactics of ‘forcefully conscripting’ youths into their fold. The war has been ideological with a surplus application of bullet approach and suicide mission in some instances. War with such parameters needs a more robust approach; a combination of gun and awareness creation to conquer or subdue the spread of the ideology. The research work therefore, sought to examine the patterns, tones and content of media campaigns against Boko Haram. Discourse analysis and observation methods were employed in the study. Data was collected from the media campaigns broadcast on radio and television and placed on billboards and results showed that the media campaigns mainly portrayed Boko Haram as anti-Islam; and emphasised on the need for citizens to be security conscious by reporting suspected members of the sect to the nearest security outfit. Public knowledge on security consciousness has increased. There is clarity of information in the messages and contained central messages like ‘stop killing, repent and surrender your weapons’. The media campaigns were mainly produced in local languages; Hausa, Kanuri and Shuwa Arab. This study recommended that ethical issues like portraying minors involved in perpetrating the heinous acts and exceeding the conventional 60 seconds time limit for radio and television jingles should be considered while producing the media campaigns.


Boko Haram; De-radicalization; Insurgency; Terrorism and media campaigns


The conduct of this research was inspired by the renewed onslaught of Boko Haram activities on soft targets, the use of minors for suicide mission as well as a new tactics of forcefully conscripting youths into their fold. Amnesty International as cited by Sahara Reporters [1] estimates that about 223 Nigerians have been killed in attacks since April, with 100 killed in August alone. Boko Haram has abducted 67 people, mostly young women and girls, in Nigeria in the same time frame. Warner and Matfess as cited by CNN analyzed the 434 suicide bombings carried out by Boko Haram since 2011, and found that at least 244 of the 338 attacks in which the bomber's gender could be identified were carried out by women [2]. The group has sent 80 women to their deaths in 2017 alone.

Over the years, media campaigns have been increasingly used, in an attempt to change the narrative and shape the behaviour of youths perceived to be the main target of indoctrination or forcefully recruited by the Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs). Notably, such campaigns are geared towards enhancing civil-military relationship, surveillance and also an ‘all inclusive approach’ to end the guerrilla or ideological war. Typical of such campaigns, have been repeated consistently on radio and television (public and privately owned) stations, inform of public announcements and have reached a significant Nigerian population and beyond including perpetrators of the terrorism acts at a time. These campaigns have also been replicated on outdoor media like fliers, billboards and posters.

Since the inception of the Boko Haram crisis in Borno State, North-East Nigeria, from 2009 to date, there have been a variety of antiterrorism campaigns emanating from the military and the federal government through the Ministry of Information and Culture or National Orientation Agency (NOA). The Nigerian Armed Forces who are leading the Counter-Insurgency and Counter-Terrorism Operations in the North East are faced with a series of challenges especially facing the ‘unknown enemy’ — since he has no any sign to depict his true identity and betrayal from their sympathisers (host community). The lack of cooperation between the military and civil populace constitute yet another setback to the fight against terrorism.

Media campaigns are created to get a message to the target audience and try to influence the behaviour of this audience in some desired way. A media campaign is defined as the universe of measures in order to fulfil a specific objective. They are series of coordinated messages or other promotional efforts placed on media, purposely designed to achieve a certain goal of objective.

It is not arguable that campaign is a public relations tool used by many institutions, countries and corporate bodies to relate with their public. United State of America used such model in the Middle East to achieve certain goals in countries like Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Yemen. Such was also demonstrated by international companies, nation states and security bodies. In Nigeria for instance, the war against Boko Haram in the north east has prompted the military not to only focus on the ‘Gun war’ but the ideological confrontation as well as force applied by the insurgents to recruit the vulnerable villagers. This was the propeller for the establishment of ‘Lafiya Dole Radio’ coined from the Theatre of Operation of the Nigerian Army in the North-East. Several campaigns that run on the station are said to promote counter-terrorists ideologies, civil-military relationship and reconcile between the aggrieve parties. The establishment of the station and further design of campaign prompted the need to conduct this study.

Statement of the Problem

The Boko Haram insurgency has been ideological with a surplus application of bullet approach and suicide mission in some instances. Globally, war with such parameters needs a more robust approach using not only the powers of gun, but combining the powers of ideological apparatus to conquer or subdue the spread of the ideology through awareness creation. Scholars have no doubt developed interest in the activities of the BHTs. However, areas of focus by most researchers such as Islam, Kabir and Ganiyu [3,4] was tilted towards coverage of Boko Haram by Nigerian newspapers, historical evolution of the crisis, exploding stereotype and use of suicide bombers, Boko Haram threat and so on. Commercialization otherwise the ‘let them pay’ policy has hindered media campaigns specifically for the fight against Boko Haram. This is so because the Nigerian media (public and private owned) depend solely on the sales of airtime for the daily running of the organizations.

In Spite of these challenges, the Nigerian media have continued to take part in creating awareness on the heinous activities of the group and the need to support security agencies defeat the common enemy. However, there is no known analysis to evaluate these media campaigns specifically geared towards the fight against Boko Haram Insurgency. Premised on this insufficiency, the study set out to ascertain and assess the patterns, tones, themes as well as the frequency to which they are broadcast on Nigerian Television Authority and Radio Lafiya Dole, in the wake of Boko Haram insurgency.

Objectives of the Study

Specifically, three (3) research questions have been formulated for this study, viz:

• To analyse the patterns and content of media campaigns against Boko Haram,

• To find out the tones and themes of the media campaigns against Boko Haram,

• To find out the frequency of media campaigns broadcast on Radio Lafiya Dole and Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

Research Questions

The following research questions will guide this study:

• What are the patterns of media campaigns used in the fight against Boko Haram?

• What are the tones and themes of the media campaigns against Boko Haram?

• At what frequency are these campaigns broadcast on Lafiya Dole Fm and Nigerian Television Authority (NTA)?

Significance of the Study

The issue in the fight against Boko Haram Insurgency and terrorism is whether or not the gun approach alone can suffice. The media plays a pivotal role in forming people’s attitude and change in behaviour. The Boko Haram Insurgency and other conflicts bedevilling Nigeria, has indeed reawaken media managers and other relevant stakeholders on their roles in curbing the menace that has taken its toll on the socio-economic activities of the country. From early 2015 to 2017, the media has been playing an essential role in increasing society’s awareness of, and response to, Boko Haram.

The outcome of this research will be of immense important to the entire media organizations and the Nigerian Armed Forces in particular. It will give an empirical data to the military, who have been taking the lead in the de-radicalization process so as to enhance the program. The identification of the content and themes of the messages will help the media build on a more persuading, ethically considerable campaigns that can change or counter the narrative. Also, it is hopeful that this study will give insight to the military and other stakeholders on the importance of media in tackling armed conflict like the BH.

This study shall therefore attempt to highlight and discuss the rudiments of developing a media campaign, its noticeable patterns, types and structures and of course, the effective use of these campaigns in behavioural and attitudinal changes. Considering the virginity of the issue and insufficiency of vast and objective literature from the perspective of the host community, this research will add to the existing few literature and help researchers who might develop interest to conduct research in future on similar area with literature from a different thought. Ndolo (2011) posits that the media promote national interests and certain behaviours especially in critical or emergency situations and during times of national crises. He went further by maintaining that they not only advance national interests in the spheres of politics, war, economic development, work, religion and sports but also mobilize the populace against unpopular policies and dictatorial regimes. The above quote has unequivocally created the window for this study.

Scope of the Study

The study will take a look at the jingles produced in English and Hausa languages and broadcast on Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Radio Lafiya Dole for a period of two years (from December 2015-December 2017). The Nigerian military and the Federal Ministry for Information and Culture have been up to speed in producing media messages aimed at creating awareness on the dangers of the Boko Haram sect, through the portrayal of their heinous activities using videos, pictures and sounds. The idea behind this delimitation of boundaries is to avoid embarking on an unmanageable venture as Ohaja [5] opines.

Review of Related Literature

Concept of media campaigns

Mass Media campaigns simply put are verbal or non-verbal communication drafted in form of spot announcements, jingles or short messages that reach members of public through the channels of communication. The channels can be radio, television, social media, newspapers, magazines, leaflets, billboards and even books. Southwell and Yzer [6] noted that contemporary media campaigns have featured advertisements, public service announcements, and, more recently, Internet-based tools and other interactive digital applications. Wakefield et al. [7] noted that the great promise of mass media campaigns lies in their ability to disseminate well defined behaviourally focused messages to large audiences repeatedly, over time, in an incidental manner, and at a low cost per head.

Alexander and Hanson [8] posits that;

Not long ago, ‘mass’ media referred to messages that were created by large organizations for broad, heterogeneous audiences. The concept no longer suffices for contemporary media environment. Yes ‘mass’ media still exist in forms of radio, television, film and general interest newspapers and magazines; but many media forms today are hybrids of “mass” and “personal” media technologies that open a new realm of understanding about how audience process the meaning of messages.

Media campaigns, an offshoot of public communication campaign; may involve a conventional mix of brochures, posters, advertisements, and commercials or a different array of communication methods for the purpose of achieving certain objectives. Public communication campaign as defined by Rice and Atkin [9] is a purposive attempt to inform or influence behaviours in large audience within a specified period of time, using an organized set of communication activities and featuring an array of mediated messages in multiple channels generally to produce non-commercial benefits to individuals and society. Mediated messages here imply that the messages pass through the channels of communication.

In evaluating media messages, Krueger [10] noted that the best way to achieve media literacy is to evaluate all the messages that bombard you. Ask these questions to understand the message:

• Who created, or paid for, the message? The company, group or institution that creates a media message or that pays for the creation of a message has a reason or motive. Who is the target audience? Message producers direct their message to specific groups. When the producers want to reach several groups, they typically produce separate messages targeted at each group.

• What is the product? Media messages, especially in advertising, have something to promote. Usually, the product or service is obvious; sometimes, the product or service isn’t clear until the end of the message.

• What are the direct messages? Direct messages are easy to identify. They include the name of the product and price, and its benefits to the consumer are stated explicitly in text, dialogue or voice-overs.

• What are the indirect messages? Indirect messages are not stated directly, either in text, dialogue or voice-overs. These messages may be just as powerful as the direct messages.

• What is omitted from the message? In advertising, messages often highlight the positive qualities of their product, service or cause. They downplay any negative qualities. Often, they just don’t talk about anything that would cause consumers to dislike what the message is promoting. Ask yourself what is missing from any message you read, see or hear.

Media campaigns for behavioral and attitudinal change

In situations like that of Boko Haram crisis, media messages are driven by an agenda-persuasion. Persuasion is a form of communication that takes place on a daily basis within our society. It is a term that is used when one is attempting to get another to change their mind set or action in one form or another. Persuasive communication is any message that is intended to shape, reinforce, or change the responses of another or others. Such responses are modified by symbolic transactions (messages) which are sometimes, but not always, linked with coercive force (indirectly coercive) and which appeal to the reason and emotions of the target [11].

Mass media campaign is a critical tool in behaviour and attitudinal change. Early in the history of media studies, it was believed messages conveyed by media had tremendous power to influence people’s attitude and behaviour. This power has remained up to this moment, even though not all audience receive the messages at a time. Media campaigns may also involve the use of propaganda that is manipulation of information to influence public opinion which may result to change in behaviour and attitude. However, war itself implies the use of propaganda to defeat the common enemy. Propaganda according to Baran and Davis (2006) refers to the no-holds-barred use of communication to propagate specific beliefs and expectations. The ultimate goal of propaganda is to change the way people act and also persuade or scare others into adopting their beliefs, whether it's political, religious or philosophical.

The outcomes of behavioural and attitudinal change vary in proportion to such factors as the dose of information, qualitative potency of messages and the proper integration of mass media. For media campaigns to attain a strong impact on behavioural and attitudinal change, exposure of audience to such messages is critical. Audience must also have access to the media by which the message passed through.

Strategic Approaches


In seeking to influence behaviour and attitude, media campaigns maybe tilted towards promoting positive behaviours (like being a law abiding citizen, sanctity of human lives, avoiding indecent dressing among others) to avoid chaos. Atkin and Rice [12] noted that traditionally, prevention campaigns fear appeals to focus attention on negative consequences of a detrimental practice rather promoting the desirability of a positive alternative.

The fear appeal in the prevention approach can be divided into two approaches: the threat and recommendation approach. In the threat approach, messages should present the risk information especially the severity of the risk and the individual’s susceptibility to this particular risk. The recommendation approach on the other hand should present information on the recommended behaviour to cope with the risk; the response efficacy - the effectiveness of the recommendation in removing the threat, and self-efficacy, which refers to the individual’s capability to enact the recommended behaviour. The issue of Boko Haram engaging minors (females) as suicide bombers is a detrimental practice by the group. Using the fear appeal approach can lead to audience scepticism; caution them on the deterrence and in the long champion the change in the behaviour and attitude of the audience.

Message content

Content of media messages can generally be informative, educative or persuasive. Awareness messages simply inform the audience what to do and how it should be done. Awareness messages give cues and answers to what, who, where and how questions while persuasive messages covers the ‘why’ aspect. Persuasive messages advocates and give answers to why this is a preferable or acceptable action and attitude. Media campaigns based anchored on persuasion come along with incentives to attract the audience change their attitudes and behaviours. For instance, the Boko Haram fighters leaving in the dreaded Sambisa Forest can be persuaded to stop killing and be re-integrated to the society by granting them amnesty and psycho-socio support.

It is however important to note that Boko Haram fighters that are too extreme in their ideology consider the government and military as ‘enemies’. The messages may also be regarded as offensive, sometimes boring, full of deceit, lies, misleading and a counter to their own understanding. Therefore, the impact of the media campaign on the extreme members might take a longer period to become effective, even though it is aimed at the members of the public including potential recruits, who are ‘pleased’ with the actions of the group members.

Why campaign on Boko Haram

Like any other terrorist group in the 21st century, Boko Haram insurgent group, aside being the most deadliest has resort to seizing some advantages to recruit people of vulnerable features. However, this does not mean there is absent use of channels of mass communication to spread their ideologies. The group was known with high syllogism and good public speakers capable of convincing locals to join the terrorists groups. It is also notable as reported by some media outlets that some parents after being convinced by the terrorist or otherwise forced into the act, donate their children to be used for suicide mission. This adversely constituted a situation whereby the group (Boko Haram) continues to gain followers in the region.

Moreover, the group’s link to international terrorist organisations like ISIS and Al-Qaeda signalled a very horrible and atrocious ideological support that could infer more harm to the people. Similarly, it provides for possibilities of the bigger organisations to support them with arms and strategies. In the same vein, the U.S declaration of Boko Haram as terrorist group added a huge thought provoking analysis to the situation in the North- East and status of the group. It is then realised by the military, government, civil society groups and the general public that the force application is not enough to win the war within a realistic period of time. Moreover, the scenario of Boko Haram establishes a situation whereby many people are frustrated and aggrieved which further presented a possibility of more tragedy. This situation also needs to be arrested before it surface to cause mayhem.

Linking the above fact with another line of issue that prompted for campaigns against terrorist ideologies is the inadequacy of television channels and radio stations. The available media as at the outbreak of the crisis was Nigerian Television Authority, Borno Radio Television and Peace FM. This is too meagre to handle information and communication needs of the people of the state. It is out of these and more that radio station was established, to give room for more campaigns to flow and reach higher number of listeners.

The Nigerian Television Authority being a government owned outfit, was set on the pace of the counter-terrorism media campaign. It was a joint effort between the National Orientation Agency and Ministry of Information and Culture. The central campaign was tagged “Nigeria Unite against Terrorism”. Another concerted effort was initiated in the Lafiya Dole Radio, which broadcast campaign and programmes about the success of the Nigerian Army in the fight against Boko Haram as well as effort of government to reconcile between people. There was also campaign which targeted to sensitize people to report suspicious movement and people to security operatives and abstain from embracing any ideology alien to their own or that which they have no knowledge on.

Theoretical Framework

The study adopted two theories namely; Symbolic Interactionism and deterrence theory.

Symbolic interactionism

George Herbert Mead, an influential professor of philosophy, pioneered the development of this theory. The word symbolic interactionism was coined by Blumer, Mead’s chief disciple in 1969. It is the process of interaction in the formation of meanings for individuals. It is the on-going use of language and gestures, in anticipation of how the others will react, a conversation. Blumer [13] states that symbolic interactionism rests on three premises: that human beings act toward things on the basis of the meanings of things has for them; that the meaning of such things derives from the social interaction one has with one's fellows; and that these meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretive process.

The basic idea this theory put forward is that people behave based on the meaning they have given to things or persons. The symbolic interactionism analysed society by the descriptive meanings that people have given to objects, events and behaviours. The behavioural pattern of the people will be based on these descriptive meanings because people behave according to their descriptive believes rather than objective truth. According to Baran and Davis [14], Social interactionism is a theory that people give meaning to symbols and those meanings come to them. Thus, it posits that our actions in response to symbols are mediated (or controlled) largely by those same symbols.

This theory helps media researchers better understand the field because of the important role the media plays in creating and propagating shared symbols. Because of the media’s power, it can construct symbols on its own. By using symbolic interactionism theory, researchers can look at the ways media affects a society’s shared symbols and, in turn, the influence of those symbols on the individual [15].

Deterrence theory

The deterrence theory of punishment can be traced to the early works of classical philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes (1588- 1678), Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794), and Jeremy Bentham (1748- 1832). Together, these theorists protested against the legal policies that had dominated European thought for more than a thousand years, and against the spiritualistic explanations of crime on which they were founded. In addition, these social contract thinkers provided the foundation for modern deterrence theory in criminology.

Paternoster and Bachman [16], states that we are affected by both the costs and rewards that are consequent to our behaviour. In other words, we tend to behave based on the expectation that we will receive some type of reward for doing it while hoping to avoid some type of punishment for not doing it or doing something else.

The theory of deterrence that has developed from the work of Hobbes, Beccaria, and Bentham relies on three individual components: severity, certainty, and celerity. The more severe a punishment, it is thought, the more likely that a rationally calculating human being will desist from criminal acts. To prevent crime, therefore, criminal law must emphasize penalties to encourage citizens to obey the law. Punishment that is too severe is unjust, and punishment that is not severe enough will not deter criminals from committing crimes.

Applicability of the theories

Symbolic Interactionism: One way the media uses symbol to affect the individual is advertising and commercials. When the media uses pictures of explosives and scenes of bomb blasts, what comes to the minds of the mass audience is the unethical, unreligious and unacceptable culture of killing innocent lives. The audience therefore thinks of an image of a Boko Haram member, who is bent on killing innocent people using guns or improvised explosives devices. A gun in reality can mean weapon. An armoured vehicle or the presence of troops in the North East may symbolise the strength of Nigerian Army in protecting innocent lives and property. The presence of Boko Haram flag in local communities on the other hand may mean that Boko Haram fighters are in total control of that territory.

Deterence Theory: in 2017, a federal high court sitting in Niger State, begun the trial of suspected Boko Haram fighters. Die hard fighters who have refused to heed to the governments advice of surrendering themselves and their fire arms to security operatives nearest to them will have themselves to be blame in the event they get caught.


The study adopted discourse analysis. Islam and Kabir [3] defined discourse analysis as a methodology for analyzing social phenomena that is qualitative, interpretative and constructionist. It explores how the socially constructed ideas and objects are created and used in the media content. Discourse analysis can be characterized as a way of approaching and thinking about a problem. In this sense, discourse analysis is neither qualitative nor quantitative method, but a manner of questioning the basic assumptions of quantitative and qualitative methods. Discourse analysis does not provide a tangible response based on scientific research but it enables access to the ontological and epistemological assumptions behind a project, a statement, a method of research, or-to provide an example from the field of Library and Information. Discourse analysis deals with a conversation or text, a collection of text or conversation. Maclure 2003 posits that “...analyzing text involves much more than whatever is ‘in’ those texts. ...The point... is not to get the text lay bare its meaning (or its prejudices), but to trace some of the threads that connect the texts to others”.

In other words, Discourse Analysis will enable study to reveal the hidden motivations behind a text or behind the choice of a particular method of research to interpret that text. Expressed in today's more trendy vocabulary, Critical or Discourse Analysis is nothing more than a deconstructive reading and interpretation of a problem or text (while keeping in mind that postmodern theories conceive of every interpretation of reality and, therefore, of reality itself as a text. Every text is conditioned and inscribes itself within a given discourse, thus the term Discourse Analysis). Discourse Analysis will, thus, not provide absolute answers to a specific problem, but enable us to understand the conditions behind a specific ‘problem’ and make us realize that the essence of that "problem", and its resolution, lie in its assumptions; the very assumptions that enable the existence of that ‘problem’. Taylor [17] is of the opinion that discourse analyst’s work with language data, including talk, documents and broadcast material. Researchers in different traditions study interactions and social practices, meaning-making and larger meaning systems, and contests and conflicts around collective identities, social norms and subjectification.

In this study, the populations include the number of media campaigns produced and selected in addition to the media they are being broadcast - Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Lafiya Dole Radio. The media houses were selected based on their consistency in the broadcast of these media campaigns, ownership, accessibility and location, and of course based on researcher’s discretion. This research adopted purposive sampling which is a type of non-probabilistic sampling. Purposive sampling implies the deliberate selection of elements that have feature and attribute that the researcher has interest. According to Tajumaiye (2003), purposive sampling is a type of nonprobability sampling whereby a sample is selected on the basis of specific qualities or characteristics and elimination of those that fail to meet these criteria. It is sometimes called judgmental sampling because the researcher purposely decides on whom to be his sample. It may be based on age bracket, gender or experience and expertise. It is a method of sampling where the researcher deliberately chooses who to include in the study based on their ability to provide necessary data. The rationale for choosing this approach is because it gives room for selection based on purpose. In view of this, 21media campaigns were identified and selected.

Categories are divisions into which the units of analysis to be analysed are grouped. Onabajo, (2011), defines content categories as words that have the same meanings and are used to classify media content into categories that are mutually exhaustive and exclusive. Content categories of this study include: messages on de-radicalization, surveillance and information sharing (Table 1).

Table 1: Coding sheet.

S/N Content Categories Description
1 Call for action These are the campaigns on de-radicalization of youth.
2 Vigilance These campaigns categorically explain the need for reporting suspicious movements and putting an eye on the environment.
3 Deterrence These campaigns serves as lesson for others who might want to join the fold of the group.
4 Encouragement and Advice These campaigns specifically deal with encouraging the members to take the bull by the horn and shun the group.

These categories were chosen because the study in question touches the above areas either directly or indirectly. The study used Coding Sheet as instrument for data collection. Coding data, it means assigning attributes to specific units of analysis, such as paragraphs, sentences, or individual words. In a media campaign, producers usually use a combination of audio and visual or words and photographs as the case maybe. The Coding Sheet was drawn based on the categories outlined in order to tie contents of the media campaigns to be studied based on the kind of category they belong. The comments were read and categories accordingly. Tables and charts were used where necessary especially when answering research question three which specifically deals with frequency that is number of slots allocated by the media organizations to these media organizations.

Data Collected from Discourse Analysis Process

A total of 21 counter insurgency and violence campaigns on Lafiya Dole Fm and NTA were identified, recorded, transcribed and categorized. The campaigns and jingles are transmitted within the period of the study mostly at prime time of transmission that is periods believed to have higher number of audiences (listeners and viewers) who tune to listen and watch news and other current affairs issues.

However, discourse analysis connotes that in order to identify the key messages and tone of a particular spoken or written piece there is need for macro-proposition analysis. Macro proposition analysis according to Dijk and Teun [18] is based on an identification of the most relevant collection of information in a text, derived from local meanings of words and sentences by macro rules, such as deletion, generalization and construction. Wilson and Gapsiso [19] put that such rules combine similar meanings with construct different meaning constituents in higher-level events or social concepts which enable one to identify the main idea news item or multiple news or comments.

RQ1. What are the patterns of the media campaigns?

The patterns of the media campaigns are in audio and visual forms. Audio is for radio stations while the visual is to television. Also, posters were produced and leaflets for the campaigns and placed at strategic positions (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Pattern of Media Campaigns.

RQ2. What are the tones and themes of the media campaigns?

A total of 21 campaigns were identified and analyzed based on the various themes (Table 2). There are campaigns identified as call for actions. Since it is a moment beyond bombs and bullet and Nigerian Army wants to incorporate the public into peaceful resolution to the conflict, the call for actions were targeted at some needful actions and abstinence from non-peaceful conducts. Example of such are;

Table 2: Themes of the campaigns.

S/N Content Categories Number of Campaigns
1 Call for action 8
2 Vigilance 5
3 Deterrence 2
4 Encouragement and Advice 6
Total   21

“Reject Boko Haram and join your family to make Nigeria a better place. Reject violence for your sake and family. Be a builder, not a destroyer. Remember, that one day you will give account of your deeds before Allah. Be a faithful follower of true Islam……… Repent now”.

“Hello Nigerians!……The Nigerian Army is at it again. At what again? The Nigerian Army has introduced a new initiative to guarantee our safety and end incessant bombings in the North East.

Now report a suicide bomber and get reward.

Really? Oh yes. The Nigerian Army is offering the sum of five hundred thousand naira for any information that leads to the arrest of a suicide bomber or discovery of transit house or factory of suicide bombers.

Hmmm!!! Is it that easy? So how can I report the information?

You can call the Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole Maiduguri on 09064823221 or GOC 7 Division Maiduguri 09078599985 or Whatsapp the Commander26 Brigade Gwoza 080972179992 or Director Army Public Relations Abuja 07080216992.

Wow! But I hope my identity will not be exposed..............All information will be treated with utmost confidentiality”.

“Let us accept one another. There is no compulsion in religion. Do yours and allow me to do mine. Boko Haram is not in line with the teachings of Islam. Anybody who takes a life by mistake is to fast for 60 days. Are you killing by mistake or intentional? What will be your position in the eyes of Allah? For killing intentionally is not good. Boko Haram is not in line with the teachings of Islam. Be a builder not a destroyer”.

There are campaigns identified as raising security vigilance. Some of them are targeted at creating consciousness and awareness on the issues of suicide bombing and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) which are used for suicide missions. Examples of campaign with such composition include:

“Nigerians! Do you know what an improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are? IEDs come in different shapes and sizes. They can be hidden in bags, boxes and all kinds of containers. Small IEDs can be put in drink bottles. Large IEDs can be stored in the boot of a car. IEDs are dangerous. IEDs can be anywhere, at anytime. Do you know the look of a suicide bomber? They are in loose or heavy clothing, visually inappropriate for the weather. They tighten them in their heads, or keep them in their pockets. They are unaware of their surroundings. They are always alone and nervous. So, be vigilant. Be security conscious. Report suspicious persons, objects and movements to the police and other security agencies. The security of our nation is a duty for you and me. Nigerians unite against terrorism”.

“Nigerians suicide bombers are not spirit. They are not ghost. They are human beings like you and me. They live amongst us. They are your neighbours. They are your friends today but terrorists tomorrow. So you must know your neighbour now. Security begins with you and me. Know your neighbour now. Be vigilant, be security conscious. Report suspicious persons, objects and movements to the police and other security agencies. The security of our nation is a duty for you and me. Nigeria, unite against terrorism”.

“If you hear a bomb explosion or gunshot, that might be a terror attack. In such situation always remember the three action words RUN, HIDE, REPORT. Do not rush to the terror scene to save the situation because there might be a second bomb blast or another attack. When in a security environment call relevant agencies and help will come. For anonymous reporting call 096303250- 5 or 08132222106. If you see something say something. Nigeria Unite Against Terrorism”.

Some of the comments were titled toward deterrence. Deterrence connotes issuing red alert on some acts of terror by highlighting the stiffer penalties and consequences of such action. There are 2 campaigns in this direction. Some of the campaigns in this category indicate how strong the military operations are. Some of these are:

”Operation Safe Corridor is real. For sake violence… Shelve your sword, for violence does not pay. Surrender now, be secured, safe and enjoy the benefits of a full citizen of Nigeria. God hates violence, embrace peace today. Be a defender not a fighter”.

“Surrender now!!! Suicide bombing is not Islam. Whoever takes his/her life through suicide bombing will go to hell fire forever and ever… Be wise. Reject suicide bombing”.

The last categories of the campaign are those that were titled toward encouragements and advices to the public. The encouragements were targeted at boosting the people who have been devastated both mental and physical. The campaigns were also targeted at discouraging the notion of vengeance in people’s mind through citing religious stands on violence, terrorism and forgiveness. Some of these include:

“Don’t be afraid,…… Your villages are safe now. The military is your friend and brother. Boko Haram has destroyed families and properties. War is not in our culture; let us live in peace and harmony”.

“Islam is peace……Islam encourages seeking of knowledge be it western or Arabic. Turn down your weapons and embrace peace. Peace is the only option for development, economic activities, social interaction and self-reliance”.

“Nigeria our father’s land……Indeed, we don’t have any other country apart from Nigeria. Remember, a peaceful nation lies in peaceful co-existence and socio-economic development. Therefore, join hands by reporting suspicious movement, persons or any threat to peace and security of lives and property of citizenry, places of worship, markets or sporting arena to security operatives nearest to you. (Translated from Hausa)”

“I, Major General Lucky Irabor, Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole. I like to talk to the youths. Every youth must listen to me. This is my message to you, and I believe as you heed to this advise, anyone coming up with issues that has to do with Boko Haram ideology or whatever ideology that is outside what you know or what you are taught, by those who you think of course are your role models, please desist from listening to them. I can only thank you for listening and want to believe that very soon, we will meet one on one, for us to shake hands and the whole world is looking up to you, to live a life that God has given to you. To live in peace”

RQ3. Frequency of broadcast on Lafiya Dole Fm and NTA

In finding out the frequency broadcast on the two stations, the programme schedule was obtained. Below is the breakdown of the frequency that is spots per jingle (Tables 3,4, Figures 2 and 3);

Table 3: Lafiya Dole Fm.

Days Frequency (Spot) Timing
Mondays 123 spots 8:10-8:30 am, 8:50-8:59 am, 9:55 am, 10:25 am, 10:55 am, 11:50-11:59 am, 12:10 pm, 12:20 pm, 12:55 pm, 01:50-02:00 pm, 2:55 pm, 3:50 pm-4:00 pm.
Tuesdays 113 spots 8:10-8:30 am, 8:50-8:59 am, 9:55 am, 10:25 am, 10:55 am, 11:50-11:59 am, 12:10 pm, 12:20 pm, 12:55 pm, 01:50-02:00 pm, 2:55 pm, 3:50 pm-4:00 pm.
Wednesdays 109 spots 8:10 am-8:30 am, 8:50-8:59 am, 9:55 am, 10:25 am, 10:55 am, 11:50-11:59 am, 12:10 pm, 12:20 pm, 12:55 pm, 01:50-02:00 pm, 2:55 pm, 3:50 pm-4:00 pm.
Thursdays 117 spots 8:10 am-8:30 am, 8:50-8:59 am, 9:55 am, 10:25 am, 10:55 am, 11:50-11:59 am, 12:10 pm, 12:20 pm, 12:55 pm, 01:50-02:00 pm, 2:55 pm, 3:50 pm-4:00 pm.
Fridays 119 spots 8:10 am-8:30 am, 8:50-8:59 am, 9:55 am, 10:25 am, 10:55 am, 11:50-11:59 am, 12:10 pm, 12:20 pm, 12:55 pm, 01:50-02:00 pm, 2:55 pm, 3:50 pm-4:00 pm.
Saturdays 119 spots 8:10 am-8:30 am, 8:50-8:59 am, 9:55 am, 10:25 am, 10:55 am, 11:50-11:59 am, 12:10 pm, 12:20 pm, 12:55 pm, 01:50-02:00 pm, 2:55 pm, 3:50 pm-4:00 pm.
Sundays 127 spots 8:10 am-8:30 am, 8:50-8:59 am, 9:55 am, 10:25 am, 10:55 am, 11:50-11:59 am, 12:10 pm, 12:20 pm, 12:55 pm, 01:50-02:00 pm, 2:55 pm, 3:50 pm-4:00 pm.
Total 827  

Table 4: Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

Days Frequency (Spots) Timing
Monday 8 spots 6:55 am, 7:30 am, 8:55 am, 3:55 pm, 6:55 pm, 8:55 pm, 9:18 pm and 9:45 pm
Tuesday 8 spots 6:55 am, 7:30 am, 8:55 am, 3:55 pm, 6:55 pm, 8:55 pm, 9:18 pm and 9:45 pm
Wednesday 7 spots 6:55 am, 7:30 am, 8:55 am, 3:55 pm, 6:55 pm, 8:55 pm, and 9:45 pm
Thursday 8 spots 6:55 am, 7:30 am, 8:55 am, 3:55 pm, 6:55 pm, 8:55 pm, 9:18 pm and 9:45 pm
Friday 8 spots 6:55 am, 7:30 am, 8:55 am, 3:55 pm, 6:55 pm, 8:55 pm, 9:18 pm and 9:45 pm
Saturday 6 spots 6:55 am, 8:55 am, 6:55 pm, 8:55 pm, 9:18 pm and 9:45 pm
Sunday 6 spots 6:55 am, 8:55 am, 6:55 pm, 8:55 pm, 9:18 pm and 9:45 pm
Total 51  

Figure 2: Lafia Dole Spots Distribution (n=91160).


Figure 3: NTA Spots Distribution (n=4547).

Discussions of Findings

Audio visual presentation

Audio Visual presentation refers to works with both a sound and a visual component. The audio presented in the jingles are selfexplanatory. The visuals especially that of the scenes of bomb blast or victims (particularly) minors were blurred. Audio visual communication breaks down the traditional barriers of written communication to ensure that your audience understands the message easily, resulting in better discussion and collaboration in business, education and personal applications. Audio and visual cues, when combined, increase message retention.

By adding videos, visual aids and sound clips to your presentation, you create a multimedia experience. This helps your communication become more engaging to the audience using a variety of media, from mp3s to video footage to stillimage slideshows and online social media.

Completeness of the media campaigns

One important question here is that are the jingles/media campaigns containing all the important messages? What are the key information that perhaps made the jingles complete? From the above questions, it can be deduced that the voluminous nature of the information contained in some of the jingles, is responsible for the long narration and of course, exceeding the normal one minute standard for jingles production.

Clarity of information, sources and credibility

Clarity means making your content easy to understand. If people can’t understand what you’re trying to say, then your content is not useful, right? On the other hand, if you can produce sharp, clear, intelligent, and easy-to-understand content, it become much easier for people to see the value in it. One of the main benefits of audio visual media for communication is clarity. Audio visual input enables both parties to observe facial expressions and gesture, hear tones and inflections in the voice and use both audio and visual cues to clarify each other's meanings and positions.

The media jingles commenced with positioning statements like ‘Operation Safe Corridor is real’, ‘Nigerian Army is at it again’. The messages were kept short. The duration of the jingles are mostly 60 seconds or less than with the exception of few jingles. This made people easily remember the core messages. Sentences like ‘if you see something, say something’ and ‘report any suspicious movement to the nearest security agencies’.

The messages were simple and evocative. There was no military jargon. The language was plain and self-explanatory. Some unfamiliar terms like IEDs were further explained. For instance, in one of the jingles, it commenced with a question asking; do you know what an IED is? It means Improvised Explosives Devices.

To further underscore the clarity in the media campaigns, the statements below sum it all;

• Touch the dial, get secured.

• Raise alarm.

• Leave the area and so on.

Ethical Considerations

The National Broadcasting Code, referred to as ‘The Code’, a document first drafted in 1993 and amended in 2016 contains the universal standard of broadcasting with specific application to Nigeria. The purpose is to guide broadcasters to apply the provisions of The Code and to assist the public to uphold them as the benchmark for their “…right to quality broadcasting”. In crisis period like the Boko Haram, Chapter 1 of The Code mandate broadcasters to carry out public announcements on natural disasters as part of social responsibility covering their area of coverage. In the case of NTA, the jingles were used free of charge in spite of the commercialization. However, the usage of the jingles was not as consistent as that of Lafiya Dole Fm. This is so because the latter was established primarily to serve as media for the counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in the north east.

According to the Code ‘No broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime, lead to public disorder or hate, be repugnant to public feelings or contain offensive reference to any person or organization, alive or dead or generally be disrespectful to human dignity’. Excessive portrayal of physical suffering and pain or the exhibition of dead bodies or blood are avoided except for the purpose of conveying a message, in which case it shall be preceded with a caution.

There seems to be a violation of ethical practice in the presentation of the victims (Figure 4).


Figure 4: Violation of ethical practice. Source: Nigerian Army.

The above picture is a minor, carrying explosive devices tight to her waist. As prescribed by the Nigerian Press Council, that a minor (under the age of 16) involved in cases concerning sexual offences, crimes and rituals or witchcraft either as victims, witnesses or defendants.

Similarly, one of the suicide bomber intercepted by the military and undergoing rehabilitation at one of their centres was interviewed. Her voice has saturated the airwaves. In the interview, she disclosed how the Boko Haram members forced her to embark on such disastrous mission.

However, while it is unethical to interview a minor except with the consent of parents or guardians, the military out of what could be described as deterrence decided to allow her voice to go on air with the intention of cautioning ‘would be’ suicide bombers and their parents from engaging in such inhumane mission.

Her interview inserts reads as follows:

I am 11 years old. My dad took me alongside my mom and my siblings to the bush, informing us that we will study. I don’t know anything on it. We spent about one and half year. They gave me explosives and didn’t give me any instructions though I am with my mother. My dad has divorced my mother because my mom refused to follow their path of ideology and that she will not do anything contrary to her believe. That was how he divorced her and left us in her custody. But he went away with my elder sister. After a while, he came again and picked me and my mother.

..... I told the soldiers and they went to the scene and diffused the explosives. I don’t want to kill people. Parents should not take their children. Children should not agree. They should run and come to military. Nothing will happen to them....

From the foregoing, it can be deduced that the military’s intention of interviewing the ‘repentant’ Boko Haram member was not geared towards exposing her identity. Her name and that of her parent was not mentioned, neither her address or was disclosed. The purpose was to among other things inform members of the public on the breakthrough of the military in de-radicalization process. It was believed that the jingle will go a long way in convincing other perpetrators to accept the offer by the military and submit themselves voluntarily. Her face should have been blurred instead.

It is a well-known rule in broadcasting that all spot announcements should not exceed 60 seconds. However, some have exceeded the time limit. Jingles of such nature are only aired on Lafiya Dole Fm.

Appropriateness of the themes

The themes selected for the media campaigns have a purpose. Each theme conveyed a specific message and addressed a pressing problem at the time. The theme usually tallies with an issue at stake.


This study concludes from these angles as follows;

• The study revealed that the radio jingles produced the Nigerian Armed Force and aired on their radio station has no specific duration. It ranges from 20 seconds to 10 minutes.

• The study found a categorization in content of the media campaigns. Some are geared towards de-radicalization, while others conveyed a message of vigilance, call to action or seek for assistance from security agents and others served as deterrence to discourage others from joining the fold of the terrorists group.

• Radio Lafiya Dole tends to air more of the jingles than NTA. This is because of the commercialization of media content.

• The consistent used of media campaigns have helped in persuading members of the public to support the Nigerian Armed Forces in the fight against Boko Haram.

• These media campaigns have equally enhanced rapport or rather sustained civil military relations. Members of the public are now more enlightened on the tactics and modus operandi of the terrorists especially with respect to the use of minors as suicide bombers among others.

• The study observed these media campaigns are not only broadcast on radio and television but also played in outside vehicles during mop-up operations in the forest. This was done in order to give the repentant Boko Haram members the ample opportunity to voluntarily surrender to the military.

• The exposure and publishing of the pictures of the wanted members of the group has enabled the public to know those behind perpetrating the violence. However, in spite of publishing the list, members of the public are yet to report or give information that led to the arrest or death of any of the members to claim the reward announced by the Nigerian Army.

• The English version of the jingles has less or no impact on the public residing in the epicentre of the Boko Haram crisis. This is because significant number or majority of the target audience understands more of the local language than the official English language.


A few recommendations emerged from the findings of this study. They are:

• The military and other governmental agencies should not relent; more campaigns with themes focusing on deradicalization should be produced.

• There is no need for replicating the media campaigns in English. Priority should be given to local languages only.

• The military radio station should be established in other affected states of the North East. This will pave way for the broadcast of more jingles that will reach a significant number of audiences.

• Ethical issues like portraying minors involved in perpetrating the heinous acts and exceeding the conventional 60 seconds time limit for radio and television jingles should be considered while producing the media campaigns.


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