TRANSFORMING NIGERIA STATE BY STATE
When Mr. Mike Omeri took over the reins of leadership at the National Orientation Agency (NOA) on January 17, 2012, he made it amply clear that one of his primary concerns or vision was “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”. Eleven months down the line, Nigerians continue to testify to the fact that the Agency under his watch has kept faith with this thrust. It is not a surprise that, as many put it; the NOA has taken over the country and is daily in the news, sensitizing the public on acceptable conducts as well as on government policies. With the NOA today, everything and indeed, anything is an opportunity to address the public on topical issues, whether it bothers on electricity tariff, proposed new naira denomination or the disposal of pure water sachets. The activities built around each topic of re-orientation concern and the personalities they collaborate with to drive home the message are such that leave the message indelible in the minds of Nigerians.
Recently, the Agency Headquarter crew was in Ondo State for a series of events and the story was not different. At one of such events, the Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko commended the prompt and proactive response of President Goodluck Jonathan to the recent flooding across the nation by providing reliefs, granting access to the nation’s strategic grains reserves and mobilizing the private sector to come to the aid of the victims, describing the emergency measures as unprecedented.
He gave his commendation while flagging off the nationwide road safety campaign of the National Orientation Agency tagged “Do the Right Thing: Drive to Stay Alive” in collaboration with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) at the Akure Ultra-Modern Motor Park, Ondo State
Governor Mimiko observed that “Nigerians need to learn how to celebrate what is good. Nigeria is not all about corruption and Boko Haram. If the president does something that is good, let us talk about it and celebrate him”. He ranked the Federal Government’s response to the recent floods far higher than that of the United States Government to the hurricane Catherina and the recent hurricane Sandy disasters in New Orleans and New York respectively. He said President Jonathan deserves all commendation for doing what the government of developed countries could not do for their countries and thereby mitigating the effects of the floods.
Governor Mimiko commended the “Do the Right Thing” campaign and pledged to do everything possible to engrave the concept of the campaign in the consciousness of the people of the State. He observed the high rate of 162 deaths in 100,000 accidents, the second highest in the world was very alarming and called for a change in the attitudes of Nigerian road users.
The Governor condemned the sale of cigarettes, alcohol and hard substances in and around motor parks across the country, stressing that such create necessary environment for the facilitation of accidents as drivers are exposed to the influence of such substances. He however announced that the state had procured state of the art extrication equipment, ambulances and toll free numbers to enable the State’s emergency agencies respond to road accidents and other emergencies in a maximum of twenty minutes from the time of their occurrence.
In his address at the flag-off, NOA Director General said the choice of Ondo State for the launch of the campaign was in recognition of the giant efforts of the State Government in the transport sector. He regretted that road accidents has assumed prime position as the primary cause of death in the country and urged Nigerians to do the right thing on the highways by obeying all traffic regulations, especially during this yuletide. Mr. Omeri also reminded law enforcement officers that there is no law backing their harassment of law abiding citizen on the highway and charged all officers involved in such practice to desist.
The Corps Marshal of the FRSC, Mr. Osita Chidoka, represented by the South West Zonal Commander of the Corps, Assistant Corps Marshal Luka Sambo Kinnya admonished road users to take note of the road conditions and apply common sense speed limits when using the roads as most roads are under construction. He also appealed to State Governors to assist the corps in establishing more out posts as well as providing equipment to enable the corps respond more speedily to any road emergencies that may arise during the yuletide.
The Ondo State Commissioner of Police, represented by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Henry Fadairo in a goodwill message commended the partnership between the NOA and FRSC which he said would go a long way to save lives and reduce road accidents against the background of increase in accidents and accident related deaths in the State between 2011 and 2012. The Secretary General of the NURTW, Comrade Joel Kolawole in his own message, however, pledged the commitment of the Union to ensuring its members complied with traffic regulations in the yuletide to minimize road hazards in the State and its environs.
The launch had in attendance the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, the Ondo State Commissioner for Transport, Otunba Nicholas Tofowomo, the Corps Marshal of the FRSC, Mr. Osita Chidoka, Sector Commanders of Ondo, Osun and Oyo States, the Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO), the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Nigeria Customs Service, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other stakeholders in the transport sector. Highlight of the launch was a ceremonial “Drive to Stay Alive” road walk led by the Governor.
At another event, the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) endorsed the National Orientation Agency’s communication strategies for public image management.
The President of NIPR, Alhaji Mohammed Abdullahi who gave this endorsement during the 2012 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Institute in Akure, Ondo State said the Agency had the most effective public communication strategy in Nigeria. He commended the NOA Director General, Mr. Mike Omeri for transforming the Agency in less than one year in office through many innovative strategies in communicating government policies to the public.
The NOA Director General who was conferred at the AGM with the highest position of fellowship of the Institute described the Agency’s work as an essential service for the restoration of societal values hence the importance of workable communication strategies. He urged co-fellows and members of the Institute to assist the Agency in making a case for the approval and issuance of an operating license for NOA’s Community Radio to enable the Agency do its job better.
Pledging total commitment to the tenets of the NIPR, Mr. Omeri tasked members to use their vantage position to positively transform Nigeria’s image. He further disclosed that NOA and NIPR would work together to host a conference tagged “Transformational Leadership” to, among other things, address issues of leadership, security, economy and other topical issues from the image management perspective.
In his remarks at the closing ceremony of the AGM, the Chairman of the occasion and former Minister of Information, Chief Alex Akinyele commended the NOA boss for the fellowship which he said was well deserved. He described public relations was a very potent tool capable of settling any form of dispute adding that image management will always remain a critical need as long as society exists. He therefore lauded Mr. Omeri for making adequate use of public relations strategies in wading into crisis situations across the country and protecting the nation’s image.
The Director General of NOA, Mr. Mike Omeri, during a visit to the Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, charged State Governments in Nigeria to emulate the development strides of Ondo State Government.
The NOA Director General observed that there are so many lessons that other State governments should learn from the government of Osun State, especially the involvement of the people in the execution of projects. He congratulated Governor Mimiko for implementing the MDGs initiative in the health sector which the United Nations has adopted for the rest of the world.
Mr. Omeri sought the collaboration of the Government of Osun State in driving the “Do the Right Thing” campaign in the State. He observed the universality of values; hence the imperative of conforming to acceptable values by all and sundry. He pointed out that the flag-off of the “Do the Right Thing: Drive to Stay Alive” campaign of the Agency scheduled to take place in the State was geared toward encouraging all citizens to adhere to traffic laws in the interest of a decent and orderly society.
Responding, Governor Mimiko expressed in strong terms, his delight at the goodwill of the Federal Government and its Agencies towards the State in ensuring that true governance is delivered to the people. “If President Goodluck Jonathan is someone who knows how to celebrate himself, the Ondo and Edo State elections would still be at the front burners of public discourse in Nigeria. The President promised to provide adequate security and that there would be free and fair elections, and the President delivered on his promise. I think it is something we should celebrate”, he said.
The Governor also described NOA’s “Do the Right Thing: Transform Nigeria” charge as more than a mantra but rather a living charge that, if adhered to by all Nigerians, would accelerate the nation’s development. He congratulated the NOA boss on his recent induction as fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations, expressing confidence in the ability of Mr. Mike Omeri to take the Agency to enviable heights in the fulfillment of its mandate.
Was it all about the Governor? Certainly not. The NOA crew did not has leave Akure without its trademark Interface on Peace and Unity with Stakeholders which took place at the palace of the Deji of Akure. During the interface, the Director General, on behalf of the Agency, invested the Deji of Akure Kingdom, His Royal Highness, Oba Adebiyi Adesida, Afunbiowo the second, as “Do the Right Thing” Ambassador for his exemplary and motivational leadership which integrates the leaders of various ethnic groups resident in Akure into the Deji’s Council.
Mr. Omeri commended the Oba for the policy, noting that the inclusion of the Igbos, Igalas, Hausas and the Egbiras into the traditional ruling council of Akure was a true reflection of the large heartedness and hospitability that Nigerian communities are traditionally known for. He therefore called on other traditional as well as democratic leaders across the nation to emulate such disposition which, he said, had opened up the Akure Kingdom to more creative ideas thus contributing to its development. He explained that the position of “Do the Right Thing” Ambassador marks the Deji out as a role model for his followers and other leaders to copy.
In his remarks, Oba Adesida noted that it had always remained the responsibility of traditional rulers to maintain peace and promote tolerance in their respective domains. He was of the opinion that if all traditional rulers will ensure their fulfillment of these traditional obligations that are already known to them, there was no need for the on-going clamour in some quarters for a constitutional role for traditional rulers.
On the issue of ethical re-orientation, the Deji who doubles as the Chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers in Ondo State, commended the NOA for its bold initiative, through the “Do the Right Thing: Transform Nigeria” campaign, to positively transform the psyche of Nigerians into one that celebrates the good in our people rather than elevating the bad. He however charged the NOA to work closely with the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Ethics in the pursuit of ethical rebirth for greater force and synergy.
The Oloyoda of Oda, Oba (Dr.) Bamidele Akosile, who spoke on behalf of other traditional rulers in the State, lent his support to the submission of the Deji of Akure on ethical rebirth. He charged the NOA to intensify its campaign at correcting the “African time” perception among Nigerians which gives credence to lateness. He condemned the perception in its entirety and challenged Nigerians, especially the ruling class, to cultivate a new time keeping paradigm that would make them attend appointments not later than ten minutes before the appointed time as against the practice of habitual lateness.
The Chairman, Akure South Local Government Area, Architect Jide Adejuyigbe corroborated the contributions of representatives of the Christian, Muslim and ethnic communities in Akure on the peaceful co-existence of religious faithfuls and ethnic groups in the community which he hinged on the values of tolerance and harmony handed down by Akure people from generation to generation. He however urged the NOA Director General to use his good offices to facilitate the fulfillment of the Federal Government’s promise of making the palace of the Deji of Akure a monumental peace. When this is done, he said, it would serve as another monument of reference to peace, unity and progress in the nation.
The interface attracted the attendance of leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Council of Ulama, traditional worshippers, the Igbo, Hausa, Igala and Egbira communities in the State.
Did you just say “activity driven indeed”? That’s correct, but it goes beyond the activities. The message conveyed by the activities speaks to the heart of every Nigerian on a daily and resonating basis. The message is simple: “Do the Right Thing: Transform Nigeria”.