Analysis Of Public Policy And Strategic Communication In Democraticgovernance In Nigeria

Source: Dr. Idumange John Fce
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Dr. Idumange John Fce


THEME “Understanding Strategic Communication for Good Governance in Nigeria”



Presentation Outline
What is public Policy
What is Strategic Communication
Characteristics of Public Policy
The policy Making Process
Types of Public Policy
Concept and Elements of Good Governance
The Nexus Between Strategic Communication and Democratic Governance

âıTenets of Strategic CommunicationRole of Non-State Actors in the Media EnterpriseConclusion & Recommendatioll;-bvvnsLeverage SC for Good GovernanceReferences Introduction Public policy making and strategic communication play a vital roles in the functioning of democratic governance. Policies are the foundation upon which government actions are predicated.

Public policy is a broad range of government laws, regulations, court decisions and by-laws. These policies affect all aspects of life: citizens, stakeholders, investors, professional bodies, politicians, businessmen and the entire society.Strategic Communication on the other hand refers to the means by which government inform and engage with the public, stakeholders and other decision makers to promote policies I order to achieve the desired outcomes.This paper examines the meaning of public policy, types and the policy making process against the background of how government deploys strategic communication to achieve the goals of democratic governance.

Since good governance relies on effective and efficient public policy making processes that are transparent, accountable, participative and responsive to the needs of the people, the paper also x-ray the role of civil society organizations, businessmen and the participation of individuals in building legitimacy and public support for policies. The paper concludes with recommendations designed to enhance the use of public policy and strategic communication to enhance democratic governance in Nigeria.Keywords: Public Policy, Strategic Communication, Nigeria.What is Public Policy?

Public policy is the framework of laws, regulations and actions formulated and implemented by government to achieve social and economic goals. It can also be explained as the process by which government authorities make decisions and take actions to address social problems. Public policy analysis is a set of interrelated decisions taken by political actors about the selection of goals and means of achieving them within a specific time. Public policies are designed to meet the needs of citizens and address societal problems. Public policy making involves a gamut of processes, which includes identifying problems, setting goals, developing strategies, implementing policies and evaluating outcomes. Public policies may take the form of laws, regulations, programmes and decisions. They can be made at different levels of government: Local Government level, state and federal levels.

Public policy analysis starts with identifying and understanding the causes of various economic, political and social problems and to propose appropriate solutions to address them.What is Strategic Communication? Strategic Communication is a policy-making and guidance for consistent information activity within an organization or between an organization and the relevant publics. It refers to the strategic public relations and strategic communication management: It is also known as public relations executed through communication means to achieve stated objectives. Strategic Communication is an essential component of policy making.

Effective communication ensures that policies are understood, accepted and supported by key stakeholders and the relevant publics. Strategic Communication helps to build trust in government institutions and promotes transparency and accountability in the policy process. Strategic Communication may involve media campaign, stakeholder engagement and digital outreach to inform and engage different audiences.Strategic Communication can take place at three levels namely: Macro or societal; meso or organizational and micro or communication. It involves five key elements: Target audience (s): Trusted Primary or Secondary audiencesContext: Recognize the key relationships and events that are significant Intended outcomes: The head, heart and hands: (What do people know, believe and do)Appropriate Medium: Select the most effective medium.

Preferred Messenger (s): Credibility of the messenger with the audience.There are three goals of strategic communication. They include:Raising awarenessChanging attitudes, and Motivating People to action.All the aforementioned goals are realized within the framework of SMART.The xtrinstics of strategic communication are the 7cs: clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete and courteous.Characteristics of Public Policy:Public Policy seeks to solve complex problems and to shape the goals of society. Public policy is goal-oriented, often driven by public interest. It is a cycle involving critical decision-making, adaptation and stakeholders-buy-in. it is against this background that public policy is characterized by the following:

Goal-oriented: Every public policy address specific societal problems and to promote public welfare.Public Interest: The aim of public policy is to address issues of public concern, enhance equity and social welfare including the distribution of resources and opportunities.

Authority and Legitimacy: Policy must be acceptable to the people. Public policy must be in line with the constitution and the laws of the land. Policies are made by legitimate authorities such as elected officials or appointed administrators.

Decision Making: Public policies are decisions, comprising pressing societal issues, choosing options and stakeholders input. They also involve political considerations.

Policy Instruments: Policies are made by applying certain instruments such as legislations, regulations, taxation, subsidies, and incentives driven by public institutions.

Implementation and Evaluation: When public policies are formulated, they need continuous evaluation. When policies are translated into action, and resources are allocated, evaluation of outcome helps to identify areas of future improvement.

Dynamic and Adaptive: Public policy evolves overtime because they respond to changing circumstances such as technology, new audience and research. They are adapted to dynamic of society.

Stakeholder Engagement: Society has many stakeholders: citizens, interest groups, businessmen, professionals and optimum leaders. Factoring-in their inputs contribute to the making of public policy. One of the ramifications of public policy is the imperatives for government to ensure the policy making process is transparent. It is a process that emphasizes stakeholder’s participation. The norm is to encourage a holistic approach to policy making.

The overriding aim is to make policies for the good governance of the state. What is significant to note is that public policy is systematic, deliberate and purposeful.The Policy Making Process: Public policies follow a cyclical process, from stage by stage in a sequential manner. There are a five-step process and 8-step process, but irrespective of the steps, the main issues are captured and the critical components in the policy process are explained. We shall now turn to the 8-step policy cycle.The 8-step policy cycle comprises the following; Agenda SettingPolicy Formulation Policy Adoption Policy Implementation Policy Monitoring Policy EvaluationPolicy RevisionPolicy Termination THE 8-STEP POLICY CYCLE(Adapted by Idumange, J.A, 2024)Agenda Setting:

Here issues are identified, defined and prioritized for action. It involves the identification of problems, and setting priorities based on their importance.Policy Formation: Here, policies are developed to be addressed. This involves conducting research, analyzing data and considering various alternatives.

Policy Adoption: Any public policy that is formulated must be adopted by the relevant decision-making body such as a legislative body or executive agency.

Policy Implementation: On the adoption of a policy, it must be implemented to achieve its intended goals. This step involves putting the policy into action, allocating resources, and monitoring progress to ensure that the policy is implemented to achieve the intended outcome.

Policy Monitoring: Upon the implementation of the policy, it is necessary to track progress to identify issues and challenges that may arise in the course of implementation. This is done to avoid unintended consequences.

Policy Evaluation: Public policies are evaluated to ascertain whether or not they achieve the intended results.Policy Revision: On the basis of the results of a particular policy, if the results are unintended, changes are made and policies are revised. Policy revision is based on feedback from stakeholders.

Policy Termination: Some policies are implemented without adequate information stakeholder buy-in. such policies are discontinued or terminated. They are replaced with a new policy.Types of Public PolicyTheodore J. Lowi (1972) proposed four types of policy.

These include: Distributive; Redistributive; Regulatory and Constitution Policies.Distributive Policies: These policies are associated with public welfare, transfer of goods and services. For instance Gov. Dickson built (3) model Schools in each of the three Senatorial Districts of Bayelsa State. Gov. Douye Diri also distributed palliatives to the eight LGAs using the PDP as a platform.Regulatory Policies: These are public policies designed to check, regulate or control businesses, trade, safety measures, public utilities etc.

They limit the discretion of individual, agencies including government operations. The prosperity administration made a regulation that tricycles should not operate after 7pm everyday. This regulation was made to address three problems: insecurity, theft and accidents in the night.Redistributive Policies: Social Policies are subject to changes.

This is why unexpected results occur. Implementing social policies such as educational policies fluctuate. For example, in Bayelsa State the Dickson administration introduced the Education Development Trust Fund to make civil servants pay a pittance as levy to fund the education of the less-privileged. The BHIS is another example. Facilitating Policies: These are policies that promote cooperation and engagement among governmental agencies. It also applies to states who come together to pursue a common purpose i.e. BRACED Commission. Constitution Policies: These are policies related to how government is structured. These policies deal with laws that create government agencies e.g. The Bayelsa State Community Safety Corps.

Concept of Good Governance Good governance is all about implementing democratic principles in a government administration. Good governance means all of the following:Ensuring that government engages openly with the citizensFacilitates the implementation of policies and programmes Government operates an accountable government and transport systemBuilds trust between government and its citizensEnables the citizens to monitor the implementation of policiesElements of Good Governance: Universally, there are 8 criteria of good governanceTransparency: Keep government business open to scrutiny

Accountability: Decision-makers should take responsibility for actionsConsensus Building: Accommodate all segments of the peopleRule of Law: Legal framework to ensure impartialityResponsiveness: Serving the citizens and responding to their needs Efficiency and Effectiveness: Government policies should be implemented with the deployment of least amount of resources Participation: Democratic governance is about citizen participation.

Good governance emphasizes people participation.The Nexus Between Strategic Communication And Democratic Governance There is a bond between strategic communication and democratic governance. Anytime power holders improve on their method of communication, they build trust and confidence in the citizenry. Strategic Communication is a fundamental aspect of effective governance. It is a truism that when citizens have access to accurate information timeously, the confidence level of the citizens increases. It also equips the citizens to hold government officials accountable.It is against this backdrop that democratic governments spend huge amounts of money on strategic communication and information dissemination.

Another significant relationship is that strategic communication promotes stakeholders engagement in the democratic process. When citizens have access to information about issues, they have the propensity to participate in decision-making processes. Through strategic approaches, civil servants and key government officials can be catapulted to global visibility, inspiring young generation of leaders.All-inclusive strategic communication empowers the citizens to hold not only bureaucrats but elective officials accountable. Strategic communication puts audience understanding at the heart of policy, resulting in better decision-making and improved service delivery.

For leaders to succeed, they must develop a blueprint for the dissemination of information to persuade their audience. The ability to communicate effectively and accurately of transmit facts is critical to leadership success.Implications of Public Policy for Good GovernancePublic Policy is a crucial aspect of good governance with far reaching implications for society. One of such implications is the need for transparency. Transparency helps to build trust in government institutions and creates room for accountability.

An inclusive policy making process involves stakeholders participation, which factors-in stakeholders input. Stakeholders’ participation helps to build legitimacy, support and leads to better policies.Added to the aforementioned is the realization that for any public policy to promote good governance, decision-makers must be held accountable for their decisions and actions.

Accountability curbs corruption, abuse of power and promotes trust in government agencies.Another implication of public policy for good governance is responsiveness. Since policies are made by the people, decision makers should be responsive to feedback. They should also be willing to adapt policies to changing circumstances to meet the dynamic needs of society. Public policies also achieve the following in respect to good governance:Provide quality services that enables government to solve problemResolve conflicts over the allocation of scarce resourcesProtect and secure the rights of individuals/organizations Enhance cooperation between individuals and society Achieve justice and equity among the various segments of government.

Enable political power holders to gain access to the mediaAccommodate new communication platforms such as the internet and social media outlets. New communication platforms make it possible to reach a broader audience.Tenets of Strategic CommunicationThere are 5 cardinal tenets of Strategic Communication. They include:

Intentional Messaging: Strategic Communication involves thinking, planning and analysis. The aim is to create intentional message. If the aim is to raise awareness, connect with stakeholders, SC must begin with a well-defined purpose. Keeping the message in line with the goals of the organization is also critical.Using the correct platform (s): The choice of the platform is important.

A government that wants to sensitize the youths on skills acquisition training must use the social media platform to disseminate information because conventional news sources such as radio stations, magazines, and newspaper are not enough.Timing: The timing of the message is important. The success of SC is predicated on when the audience is likely to receive it. For example, a message on a PTA meeting with government should be executed in the early hours of the day and evening after working hours.

Audience Selection and Analysis: Messages are designed for specific audiences. Communicators must carefully select and analyze the attitudes of their audiences, their values, beliefs and preferences. This will determine their level of involvement.Desired Impact: Clearly defining the desired impact is important in SC. Like a marketer, government can promote its policies on collaboration by using terms like Racing Together”.

An administration doing damage control with a Facebook post will increase the impact of a post by the number of likes, shares and comments. Why Government & Non-State Actors Invest in the MediaRealizing the watchdog role of the media, government and non-state actors invest in the media. Part of the investment may come in the form of ownership or patronage of Corporations, Newspapers and Television Stations. One of the reasons why government invests in the media is to use the outlet for control and influence opinions and policies.

Again, the media serves to inform, interpret and instruct the citizens, it is used as a tool for propaganda too. Government usually owns the media for the following reasons. To protect the people from exploitation by private investorsTo control private monopoly through nationalizationTo raise revenue for government for development purposesTo provide goods which are not normally provided by the private sector.What is at the core of media ownership by State Government is to use the media to influence opinions, control public policies, and government programmes.

Basically, people invest in the media for the following reasons:Development actors build an independent media sector to support the functioning of democracy and a key platform for freedom of expression and the press.To push for accountability in government in order to improve service delivery. Non-state actors are eager to ensure that government is accountable to the citizenry. The aim is to reduce corruption, and improve on transparency in government transactions.Leaving governance in the hands of political power holders could weaken the citizens, non-governmental organizations, and the media. What keeps government alive is the dialogue, debate, cohesion and build legitimacy.Non-State actors in the media also seek to use the media as an instrument of development.

However, apart from this objective, the media is used to sensitize the populace on Vaccination, Immunization, Sanitation, Community work etc. on the contrary state-owned media is usually associated with limiting information to the public and control the editorials of independent public service media. In the area of policy making, the media contributes to agenda setting for the press, the public, and policy makers by highlighting the newsworthy issues. The media is also used for advocacy.

As a strategic tool of public policy, the goal of media advocacy is to promote advocacy, rooted in the goal of promoting the common good. In contemporary times, the media tends to cut a positive image for the society and as much as possible campaign against vices without being judgmental. Leveraging Strategic Communication for Good GovernanceIn a fast globalizing world, effective communication strategies are essential for building trust, transparency and accountability within government institutions.

By leveraging strategic communication, policy makers and political power holders can engage with citizens to foster dialogue that will enhances governance practices. Strategic Communication can enhance good governance in five ways.Helps Build Trust and Credibility: Strategic Communication ensures that information is communicated transparently and accurately. When citizens trust their government and institutions, they are more willing to support decisions made by government.

Engaging Stakeholders: Effective governance requires the active involvement of stakeholders by fostering dialogue and all-inclusive feedback for enhanced policy making. Promoting Accountability: Transparency and accountability are essential component of good governance. With effective communication, government actions are made visible and on the basis of performance indicators, leaders can be held accountable for mal-performance.

Managing Conflicts: Globalization has come with massive changes, conflicting interests and conflicts. Strategic communication provides timely information to address public concerns. Proactive communication enables the government identify areas of conflicts. That way, government can activate mechanisms for managing such conflicts.

Promoting Public Policy: The entire gamut of the policy process can be boosted by strategic communication initiatives. When strategic communication is directed to certain audiences, policy mobilization and stakeholders’ participation is enhanced. Government can deploy strategic communication to enhance transparency, accountability and decision-making and by implicating good governance.Conclusion and Recommendations This paper has discussed the role of strategic communication in an effective public policy process and good governance. The interplay between strategic communication, policy outcomes and good governance seeks to enhance transparency, accountability and citizen engagement. The implications of public policy for good governance with the context of strategic communication were x-rayed.

The recommendation is that policy makers and public officials should prioritized strategic communication efforts as fundamental tools for promoting democratic values that can advance the effective policy making/implication and advance the quality of governance in our society. Specifically, the paper recommends as follows.Government should invest in strategic communication as a tool for engaging the citizens to promote good governance.Government should account for the process of policy making for stakeholders involvement in the policy implementation process.Government should embrace good governance and its tenets and establish a symbiotic relationship between strategic communication and good governance.The public especially the media, should periodically demand for accountability from political power holders.It has become trendy for government to use the social media infrastructure as a tool for disseminating information. This should be encouraged but dedicated channels should be used to avoid cloning. Public programmes and policies should be communicated to the citizens through formal and informal means of communication to enhance policy buy-in and stakeholders engagement.

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