It did not take more than a day after the launch of “DO THE RIGHT THING: TRANSFORM NIGERIA” campaign by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) before feedbacks from all over the nation began to suggest that Nigeria was at the threshold of popular action that would culminate in massive national transformation. In fact, a friend of the Agency described the phenomenon heralded by the Agency’s national launch, nationwide road shows and media deluge to drive home the “DO THE RIGHT THING” message as NOA taking over the country.
Indeed, NOA has not only taken over the country but has most importantly undertaken a self-rediscovery and repositioning to meet the demands of its mandate in the days ahead. Under the leadership of Mr. Mike Omeri who resumed as Director General of the NOA on January 17, 2012, the new vision has been to transform the Agency along with its various units and organs into a proactive , knowledge based and activity driven organization, able to rise up to evolving challenges in our national space. In what could be described as charity beginning at home, the face of the once most criticized Agency of government is being renewed into one that continues to attract admiration and commendation from across society. Today, not a few structural and infrastructural improvements are easily noticeable to those familiar with the Agency and its history.
The statutory mandate of the NOA, in summary, is to develop a Nigerian society that is orderly, responsible and disciplined; where citizens demonstrate core values of honesty, hard work and patriotism; where democratic principles and ideals are upheld; and where peace and social harmony reign. It involves consistently raising awareness, providing timely and credible feedback; positively changing attitudes, values and behaviours; accurately and adequately informing; and sufficiently mobilizing citizens to act in ways that promote peace, harmony and national development.
Having observed, therefore, that NOA’s assignment can hardly be divorced from the media, it became imperative for the Agency to collaborate very closely with media organizations. However, for prompt, efficient and strategic reach, the Agency saw the need for community radio stations in all the 774 Local Governments Areas (LGAs) of the Federation where NOA has offices. Therefore, leveraging on the profound goodwill available to the Agency, NOA now has an established community radio station at its Headquarters; a feat it hopes to replicate in all 774 LGAs. Also, the in-house Press Unit of the Agency’s Headquarters has been upgraded to a modern press outfit with a reorganized newsroom, a state-of-the-art studio and standard media equipment. In addition, the physical outlook of the unit is also being transformed to create a comfortable work environment. With these developments added to the proper deployment of staff, NOA is set to take success at its task of social reengineering and mobilization to greater heights.
Other units and departments of the Agency are also experiencing rapid infrastructural transformation with physical renovation, provision of requisite equipment and staff redeployments. Some new units have also been introduced, including the Situation Unit which controls the on-line, real time communication platforms between the Agency and the world. These platforms include the Agency’s websites: www.noa.gov.ng
; the Agency’s e-polling platform in partnership with the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), bulk sms, voice blasting and facebook platforms. This unit has as well been furnished with relevant equipment for optimum performance. These platforms allow Nigerians instant access to information on government programmes and policies as well as react to such as feedback and input to government policy making process on a real time basis.
As former Director General of NOA, Prof. Jerry Gana posited during a retreat with former chief executives of the Agency some months back, “for the mobilizer to effectively mobilize, he has to be mobile”. The Agency has therefore leveraged on its goodwill to acquire new buses for the Agency to ease the challenge of mobility it has been facing following the grounding of most of its vehicles due to wear and tear. In line with its campaign for Nigerians to patronized Made in Nigeria goods, the Agency recently acquired a brand new 18-seater bus from Innoson Motors Nigeria Ltd. and got another one free from the company as part of its corporate social responsibility. NOA has also acquired new projectors for its State Directorates and Local Government Offices to provide visual aids for its public sensitization programmes.
In pursuit of its critical mandate of value reorientation, attitudinal change and promotion of the nation’s core values, the Agency, has launched a new charge/logo that will produce a conscience satisfying disposition in Nigerians to do the right thing always. The charge: “DO THE RIGHT THING: TRANSFORM NIGERIA” was formally launched on 7th of May, 2012 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja followed by a nationwide road show by all State Directorates of the Agency on and 8th. The second phase of the campaign which is dubbed “DO THE RIGHT THING: ETHICS FIRST” has attracted the partnership of the United States of America originated Global Priorities International in training select representatives of various sectors of society on ethics. The training modules adopted have worked successfully in transforming attitudes in other countries such as Venezuela and Mexico; hence the optimism that it would yield similar benefits in Nigeria. This campaign, the Agency believes, forms the fulcrum for the success of the Transformation Agenda. Only when Nigerians do the right thing wherever they find themselves will the challenges confronting us as a nation begin to abate and we begin to witness true, deep and lasting national transformation.
NOA in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Power and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is carrying out a nationwide campaign to sensitize Nigerians on the new Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO) and the need to embrace it considering the immense personal and economic benefits it holds for Nigerians. This effort has indeed been largely successful in enhancing acceptance of the new policy in contrast with the former disposition of Nigerians to stiffly oppose new policies without due consideration of the inherent benefits.
Peace remains the only conducive atmosphere for growth and development. This informed the Agency’s nationwide peace advocacy campaign in the light of recent developments in the security situation of the nation. This advocacy reached out to political, traditional, Christian and Muslim religious leaders across the nation with the message of peace and dialogue. States visited by the NOA peace advocacy team at the national level, led by the Director General, Mr. Mike Omeri include Plateau, Abia, Bayelsa, Taraba States. The emphasis was on the need for traditional and religious leaders to champion the cause of peace within their spheres of influence. The message was well received and drew commitment from leaders to intensify their peace building efforts.
The Agency is also in partnership with the Consumer Protection Agency (CPC) to mobilize products and services providers in all 774 Local Government Areas of Nigeria to ensure that Nigerian consumers have full value for their money. This partnership also enjoys the collaboration of other key stakeholders including the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Products and Services Registration and Monitoring Programme (PROSERVE). Several Stakeholders Consultative Fora have been held in this regard and a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the NOA and the CPC.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aims at developing underdeveloped countries significantly by the year 2015. Nigeria is making giant strides at attaining the eight-point goals and several projects are being undertaken in many communities to facilitate that attainment. However, the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President (OSSAP) on MDGs has identified the need for community ownership of these projects to ensure they are not abandoned after completion but well maintained by the host communities. This necessitated the present collaboration between the OSSAP MDGs and the NOA which is now mobilizing the buy-in of host communities and thus ensuring that the promise of achieving the MDGs by the year 2015 is not aborted.
In view of the serious and alarming nature of examination malpractice in our educational system, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) is undertaking a massive campaign against the challenge of examination malpractice. The Agency, on Tuesday, July 10, 2010 launched the campaign to raise integrity standard in the conduct of exams in Nigeria in conjunction with Exam Ethics Marshals International in Lokoja, Kogi State. The campaign, among other things, is establishing Examination Ethics Clubs in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions across the nation; training Parents/Teachers Associations on how to forestall exam malpractice; adopting television and radio educational programmes to sensitize stakeholders on education best practices; as well as bestowing honours on champions of education best practices in various states of the federation.
The NOA has commenced a television documentary series tagged: ROAD TO TRANSFORMATION” Transformation Agenda of government. The 5-minute documentary, which showcases the achievements of various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government under the Goodluck Jonathan administration, is broadcast on the network service of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) on a weekly basis. Each episode highlights the achievements of a particular MDA.
Following rigorous research, NOA has adopted the cost and message effective strategy of community theatre for grassroots communication and mobilization for development. The strategy employs drama and other theatricals with locals as actors to propagate specific development oriented messages as well as mobilize grassroots support for government programmes, policies and activities. This strategy has proven very useful, in combination with other communication platforms of the Agency, in mass mobilization and social re-orientation in the hands of the Agency.
In its bid to help curtail the road carnage witnessed across the country, the NOA has taken steps to change the culture of impatience and recklessness among drivers with a partnership it has entered with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) on Road Users’ Sensitization. Under the partnership, NOA will mobilize Nigerians to ensure our roads are safer and Nigerians are more knowledgeable about road signs. Already, NOA has appealed to the general public to forward the names and vehicle plate numbers of traffic offenders to the Agency, irrespective of their class or status, for publication as a deterrent to others.
The NOA is using sports as a tool for social integration and reorientation. The message of peace, tolerance and patriotism is receiving an audience boost through sports, with NOA’s partnership with the management of the nation’s senior national football team (Super Eagles) led by Stephen Keshi and also with Universities Sports League (USL). Having identified sports as the strongest single force that unites Nigerians, NOA is leveraging sports to reach the youth as a target group with its message of social change. The Agency is also embarking on a talent hunt to identify budding sport talents at the grassroots level across the country and to promote and encourage same to contribute to community and national development.
The NOA has also commenced its awareness campaign against the Lassa Fever epidemic across the country. The first of the numerous community interventions of the Agency took place in Lafia, Nasarawa State with people from all strata of society in attendance. These interventions stem from the realization of the need for rapid sensitization of Nigerian people on preventive practices to reduce the spread, casualty figures and treatment costs of the disease. There is a sustained synergy between the NOA and critical stakeholders, including the Federal Ministry of Health, in the campaign against Lassa Fever.
As part of NOA’s campaign for improved patriotism and national loyalty among Nigerians, the Agency has engaged the Federal Ministry of Education towards the restoration of the Nigerian History curriculum in Primary and Secondary Schools as well as the Nigerian Flag Corner in school class-rooms across the nation. It is the Agency’s conviction that the enforcement of these proposed policies in both public and private schools would foster understanding of our collective heritage as a people and consequently, love and respect for one another and for national symbols. Furthermore, NOA is pushing for the national observance of September 16 as an annual National Ordinance Day. The Day would be for celebrating Nigeria’s national symbols thereby fostering awareness on the proper usage of these symbols as well as promoting a deeper sense of acceptance and ownership.
Plans are at advanced stage to introduce NOA’s Citizens’ Responsibility Volunteer Scheme (CRVS) which is aimed at engaging unemployed professionals, artisans, school leavers, fresh graduates, skilled and semi-skilled Nigerians to participate in community and neighbourhood volunteer services that add value to their various communities under an organized setting. The ultimate objective of the scheme is to constructively engage the larger segment of our unemployed population while also serving as a stop gap arrangement before they gain employment. It also provides a platform for the promotion of good neighbourliness and communal ties, civil intelligence information gathering, community organization and empowerment through sustainable partnership with Public/Private and Development Partners. Opportunity will also be created for participants in the scheme to acquire entrepreneurial skills.
Without immodesty, it is undisputable that space would be a major constraint for any writer who attempts to document the huge transformational strides recorded so far in and by the NOA within just six months of Mr. Mike Omeri’s appointment to the saddle of the Agency despite the obvious constraint of underfunding. Largely due to the paradigm shift that Mr. Omeri has introduced such that meager resources are skillfully and judiciously deployed to achieve the best possible results, it can be humbly said, and rightly so too, that Nigeria’s road to transformation is today profoundly marked with NOA’s footprints. It is also no gainsaying that if so much could be achieved with so little, then more funding would only empower the Agency for greater performance. The call therefore from several well meaning Nigerians at various fora, including the immediate past Director General of NOA, Alhaji Idi Farouk in recent times, for the Presidency and the National Assembly to vote funds for the NOA in the annual national budget is neither out of place nor could it have come at a better time.
There is also need for closer collaboration between the NOA and all other agencies of government as well as non-governmental agencies and the private sector. This is because going by the activities of the Agency, there is hardly any organization that cannot find a useful ally in the National Orientation Agency. In the present national drive toward transformation, NOA remains a critical success factor. All who desire the positive transformation of Nigeria will be taking a wise and essential first step by joining hands with and supporting the National Orientation Agency.