NIGERIAN PRESIDENCY NEEDS MORE SOPHISTICATED HANDLERS AND ADVISERS
Presidents of nations by the nature of their jobs are busy and overloaded therefore cannot be everywhere at every issue. That is why they have ministers, advisers and handlers that help them to bring their visions, dreams to fruition and reality.
President Goodluck Jonathan without exception needs sophisticated men and women especially at Aso Rock that can play vital and concerted roles in managing crisis and formulating strategic blueprints; a powerful public relation team that can avert any unseen circumstance including unexpected crisis, thereby keep the affairs of the presidency floating.
President Jonathan needs visionary team in Aso Rock that can aid the presidency to convey his vision of Nigeria to the global village. The presidency has a number of good spokespersons and public relation practitioners at Aso but more must be done to bring in more handlers that have global outlook. Global citizens of Nigerian heritage that can speak the international language of diplomacy that can be easily be comprehended by the entire world. Needed are those with touch of local inputs and trappings; simultaneously transmitting global significance. As an emerging and a frontline African nation, Nigeria has become an active part of the economic-scio global village. The strategic importance of Nigeria has grown tremendously that she must be prepared and become seasoned on how she go about doing her business; especially on how she reacts to events and the mechanism on the effective communication to the rest of the world.
The presidency is the mouthpiece of the country and any utterances coming from Aso Rock are analyzed by the rest of the world especially investors and diplomats. It is important that the spokesperson and those in the affairs of communication in the presidency understand crystal clear that the rest of the world hangs to every inch and breath of words they said and every press release they issued. The consequences of the words and press releases are numerous; they have monetary and quantifiable ramifications. These can radically affect the image of nation, the strength of naira in the exchange market and determine the rate of influx of foreign investors. The bottom line is that words and press releases have great meanings and cannot be taken lightly. The process and procedure, the method and mechanism that a nation handles events show how sophisticated and grown a nation has become. That in turn will determine on how much trust that other nations and investors repose on the nation. Take for instance the issue of Chinua Achebe rejection of the national award was not properly handled. And that was a big talk that needed to be given the highest priority.
Chinua Achebe's Award debacle: A learning experience and teachable moment Professor Chinua Achebe, the most influential African writer, a citizen of the world and a respected voice in the world, rejected an award from Nigeria. The issue is not so much that he turns down the national award but on how Nigerian government handled the whole issue. First and foremost, Professor Chinua Achebe is entitle to turn down any award whether from Nigeria or from Nobel Prize committee. That is ‘no-brainer' as Americans like to say but crust of the matter was in the handling of the said award. The Federal government of Nigeria principally the minister of foreign affairs in consultation with the presidency would have dispatched the Nigerian Ambassador to United States and he would have visited Honorable Achebe at his residence in America and talk to him about Nigeria's intention of honoring him. In the private session Professor Achebe will be diligently explained on how far the country has improved since the last time he rejected the national award. At the moment the country with a new leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan and many world respected technocrats including Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Lamido Sanusi and Professor Nnaji are steering the country in a new and affirmative direction. If he insisted that he must not accept the award then it will all end there and no another ear will hear it, in that case the government will not put his name out there and be embarrassed.
It will be a good thing and strategic victory for the government of President Jonathan to convinced Professor Achebe to accept a national award for it will give credibility and restores integrity to the national award which in the eyes of many Nigerians has become an unmerited award for well connected contractors, politicians and elites. On the international scene the voice and the prestige of Chinua Achebe is simply big, his acceptance of the Nigerian Award will return a level of goodwill that it is badly needed by the country. At the moment the administration and country are confronted with myriad of challenges including internal insecurity and poor image; it needs any encourage it can garnish from anywhere especially from this son of Africa Professor Achebe. The assurance and support from Achebe can assure some quarters in the global community. Even when the federal government did not do its homework and things went the way it did and Professor Chinua Achebe rejected the national award.
The handlers of public relation and communication in Aso Rock would have geared into more sophisticated mode of repairing damage and damage control not sending out brainy Dr. Ruben Abati to sound defensive. The more effective defense to the debacle is to go into more humble communication and acknowledged that Chinua Achebe is right on his assertion but the new assertive government of President Goodluck Jonathan is on top of it. More to it the handlers should have communicate more effective how passionate the current administration is on solving the gigantic problems of the country by giving example with the most viable and free election that was conducted by the administration. The handlers must emphasis that the election was accepted by both local and international observers as the freest election ever conducted in the country. Federal government of Nigeria should have said that the administration may have been slipped-off in effective communication of their actions, agenda and achievements but there was no laxity in their actions to right the wrongs of the country.
Handling the threat of Boko Haram via effective communication Apart from the security infrastructures set up by the administration to defeat and bring to an end to this ugly situation (DESTRUCTION OF LIFE AND PROPERTY) spurred by Boko Haram, effective communication and public relation are quite essential condiments in victory over Boko-Haram-ism. It is important that the government should effectively convey to the citizens what the administration is doing inorder to arrest the ugly situation of bombing that cheapen lives and destroy properties. When the people becomes more confident on the apparatus and methodology employed by the government they become co-partners in the battle by projecting confidence and lowering the fear of the Boko Haram, which is the main intention of the group in the first place. The most aggressive tool employed by Boko Haram is fear and which impel the citizens to lose confidence in the government to protect them.
The global community particularly the trading partners, diplomats and investors must be reassured by the government that Nigeria is safe for investment by constantly communicating to them through media and other outlets.
The economic growth of the country can be hampered when investors are shaded from the progress made by the government and they might recall back capital and investments. Therefore the government spokesperson will constantly if not daily engaged in the business of confidence-building and assurance. The handlers and spokespersons at Aso Rock must be willing at all time to reassure Nigerians and the world that Nigerian government is on top of the situation. The more the people hear it, the more it boosts their trust in the government. That in turn will stimulate the government's sensibility and the leadership becomes more encouraged that the people is behind them and Boko Haram days will be numbered. Handling and managing crisis commenced with effective communication by keeping people in the light and never allow the opposing force to win the battle of instilling fear to the masses.
Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol Organization.