Brig.Gen Muhammed Yerima steps in as new director, Army Public Relations.


By Yochuku Ofoka Yobolisa, Editor in Chief

Brigadier General Mohammed M. Yerima is back to the centre stage of military information dissemination eight years after successfully spreading the news, communicating facts, and giving requisite knowledge about the entire Armed Forces of Nigeria at the country’s Defence Headquarters in Abuja for four years. In those years (2009-2013) when he was at the helm of affairs at the DHQ’s directorate of defence information as spokesman, his captive audiences, both local and international, and even specialized groups everywhere on the globe – had no idea how he steered the wheel of flawless oral and verbal communications to keep the intellectual dialogue between state and non-state actors alive and lively to make himself indispensable to the business of profiling military activities.

But his bosses all over the military know him too well: and General Ibrahim Attahiru, the new army boss, was one of them. As a-one-time DAPR himself, General Attahiru knows General Yerima too well, especially, his skills, his zeal, and his hard work in mobilizing the general public in support of military operations. While speaking for the entire military, Yerima who was a colonel at the time spared no efforts to bridge the widening gap between the military and the nonmilitary stakeholders.

But, he did not develop his skills overnight neither did he evolve his empathy with the general public like an item of magic; both his skills and his empathy were products of painstaking endeavours. In the field of military spokesmanship, General Yerima climbed through the ranks to carve a niche, serving in various military formations. As aide-de-camp to a TRADOC chief for a period of three years, Yerima, a newly commissioned officer, learned inexorably, the ropes of army operational doctrine. Thenceforward, he worked hard to institutionalize the art and science of maintaining favourable relationship between the broad Nigerian publics and the wives of army officers; in that position, he spoke for NAOWA from the high office of the Chief of the Army Staff and hence, could not, as a matter of absolute fact, afford not to perform above board; not encouraging any panic station in the course of his job. Perhaps, in recognition of his stolid speaking ability for the women which, nonetheless, was quite an art, young Yerima was appointed to speak for a whole NA mechanized infantry Division in Lagos (81 Division). And in that job, he did not entertain any panic station, either.


Consonant with the notion that it is hard not to reward hard work, Yerima was asked to speak for the Nigerian Defence Academy – the foremost military training institution in the country. He discharged that duty with great zeal and skill between 1996 and 2002 and thus scored major public relations points to earn him spokesmanship with the United Nations mission in Sierra Leone for two years.  Perhaps, because of his sterling qualities, he received closer confidential appointments, first, with the leader of the army high command (COAS), and later with the leader of the high command of the entire armed forces (CDS).


Before the military hierarchies decided to leave the job of speaking for the entire military forces to him, Colonel Yerima had distinguished himself thoroughly well at the department of the army public relations with enough successes to earn him a medal for organizational marketing and institutional advertising. As DHQ’s director of defence information, Colonel Yerima became Chairman, media and information committee on emergency management – an umbrella name for all spokespersons of security agencies in the country.


He found himself again in TRADOC 23 years later, after his army officers’ corps commissioning, and as a brigadier, became its deputy director of production, and doubled as deputy director reserve services at the DHQ.


Talents, they say, come at birth, but skills are developed through attention and diligent application. To this end, Brigadier General M,M. Yerima became a member of a number of professional bodies and organizations some of which are: Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, African Public Relations Association, and West Africa Society for Administration and Communication. He participated in a senior strategic media operations programme at Reach Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and the Kofi Annan Centre in Ghana. He also attended the senior leadership course at Sheringham in the UK; and also participated in the United States-sponsored media tour of the US African Command that situates in the bustling German city of Stuttgart. In view of all this, the Nigerian Army hierarchies chose him among his mates to speak for their fighting force amid the present escalation of violence and organized crimes.