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Presidency Needs More Sophisticated Handlers & Advisers – By Emeka Chiakwelu

Presidents of nations by the nature of their jobs are busy and overloaded therefore cannot be everywhere at every issue. That is why they haveministers, 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.

Dr. Reuben Abati, Presidential Media Advisor

By Emeka Chiakwelu, NNP, Jan 18, 2012 –

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

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

Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol
Organization. Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) is
foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden
the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote
and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment,
human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.

Short URL: http://newnigerianpolitics.com/?p=16901

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