The difference between us and societies that went from backwardness in development is attitude to progress. They understand progress and what it means to attain it. So, they want it badly, and with the right mental disposition and positive attitude, they work for what they want. Also, there is an inexplanable kind of resolve to reverse traces of retrogression whenever they rear their ugly heads and then commitment to planting pillars of progress. I keep telling friends that Europe, America and Asian Tigers we celebrate today were once like us; they were once at the level of our development and experienced all the teething challenges besetting us today, but the difference could be found in the qualities I enumerated earlier.
They disdain evil and wrong patterns, fight vehemently and insist that under no condition should negativity ever be tolerated at all under any guise. This is one of the traits that took them up. Many are enthralled by the attitude of never holding on to what takes down. If a people desire to do away with an old discredited order, one of the best methods to do this is not to give all resources, including attention, to fighting the existing order. What you do is deploy all efforts and expend resources to create a parallel new order, in a short while the new system will swallow the old. The strong and most desirable will triumph over the undesirable. Simple alchemy! This is what most of the developed parts of the world did. America for instance, chased away political leaders who still clinged to dirty old patterns and insisted they never had grounds to canvass for votes. Yes, freedom of any kind doesn’t come cheap, the victim population must place a demand. Ordinary Americans placed a demand and the establishment caught the fire, the legislature was very excellent on this score, they reacted well.
The parliament in America always quickly came up with new laws with clear provisions reflecting the challenges of the time and the solutions. The laws were no just made, they were implemented to the letter. It was no case of selective justice as it is often the case here; you went in for it, no matter your station in life. This is how to transform a society from backwardness to civilization. One member of my family who came visiting from United States of America last December, said to me: “Ralph, my brother, I love my country but I must confess it is difficult to live here.” I asked why? “Same old system, no efficiency,” was the answer. Ignorance is hindrance to both proffiency and efficiency. We have refused to change even after regular practice has returned the verdict that square peg getting into round holes would be very difficult, let alone to function smoothly.
The topic at hand for me would not have been necessary if we are people who learn from history and choose to do things right subsequently. For a start, it could be safely assumed that most of us, our leadership class inclusive, know by now the importance of information management in proper development of society. Examples from other lands are full of what nations have attained using the tool of information management. In our case we seem to know but still choose to operate this vital tool from the reverse or even perverse angle. We like monologue, our leaders want to hear only themselves. When they are charitable enough to want to talk to the people, it comes in the format of an order, directives or “talking down” people who are the sovereignty. Why is this so? Wrong personnel choices. A case of “employing a car driver to “drive” an aeroplane.” Many have used various fora to protest what is obviously more than an abberation but it would seem such appeals fall on deaf ears. Our leaders whose love for quick fixes won’t hear, it doesn’t matter to them the huge harm they bring on the people by remaining recalcitrant and reckless in this regard. Their journey of perfidy has continued, that is the most annoying.
Few days ago, the face of the the campaign council for two big political parties in the country, All Progressives Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) began gradually to emerge with the appointment of their spokespersons. It was a normal exercise quite alright but it had to attract some curiosity because the choices were in tandem with what is right. It is coming at a time Nigerians believe mediocrity has been a key factor in our backwardness and so want processes greatly altered to reflect best practices.
APC made Festus Kayemo, a lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria her spokesman while the PDP chose Daniel Bwala and Dino Melaye, both lawyers. Melaye has been a member of the National Assembly, he had his first degree in Geography. Without these are very distinquished citizens with rich personal credentials and levels of achievements, they are very qualified to hold public positions but what makes their appointments this time awful is the fact they have been given the fish-out-of-water treatment, they have been pulled from their traditional turf of competence to an area they lack requisite expertise or on the job training.
They have been called to manage information which also dovetails into reputation care and general public relations; these areas are professional subjects for which they have had no training whatsoever. It is a dangerous thing to ask a lawyer to do surgery, that would amount to quick passage of the unfortunate patient to the world beyond. This is why those who know should be worried. Beyond the very important question of competence is the vital place of information management in the affairs of a society. Thomas Jefferson of America applied the place of information by his preference for society with press but without government than government without press.
Society will run blind without proper information management. Indeed most leaders including the very recent Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari administrations at one time or another had blamed lack of media back up for their negative perception. To an extent that point is correct. Both administrations are examples of governments who made light of the importance of information management in development by the hands they hired. Jonathan’s information minister was a pharmacist and Buhari’s has been a lawyer. Their main tools has been loquaciousness, with no competence attached to it.
Just combative and howling at perceived opponents of their boss and his government, since they were not professional, they lacked the professional ability to know the state should be different from their boss and his survival in power. If they were trained hands they would tell their boss who naturally would prefer the combative and abusive tactics that acceptability of his government and the people’s approval that follow usually would automatically translate to great image for him which in turn will aid his continuous survival in power situations. Under Buhari, his chief Information manager, the Information Minister is not only very limited in output he has taken the task off the professional path to a ridiculous level where the information policy is no longer about how to regulate professional practice well in the best tradition, but how to abridge the right of free speech offered by the constitution. No true would toe this line, no reasonable practitioner would advocate a law that regulation of practice be left in the hands of government. Only an outsider would.
For the parties, the highest criterion for the choices is loquaciousness, ability to talk too nuch and talk out limits imposed by protocol of power and bounds of decency. Pure effrontery. Nothing more. It is producing disastrous consequences already. Keyemo possibly to impress took off on a terrible note: “Tinubu will run along the foot steps of President Buhari.” For a government that is running on negative indicators on nearly all indices of assessment? We understand Keyemo’s dilemma, yet there are better ways to assert linkage without making Tinubu carry a baggage. Adams Oshiommole also got it when he said “Tinubu won’t inherit Buhari’s liabilities.” Some issues can be kept unspoken by a professional.
Speaking on strike by university teachers which is into its sixth month, Keyemo appealed to parents to beg striking lecturers to return to work in the interest of their children reminding them that in time past people didn’t need to go to formal schools to get certificated. This is disastrous given the seriousness of the matter. The fact is that it has lingered and then the centrality of education and manpower development in lifting societies from the doldrums. From another angle Melaye took him on a personality inquest, another disastrous outing, making it look like personality altercations would be the focus. We all lost in this. The choices do no credit to Tinubu and Atiku at all.
On final note, information management has become a task every Dick and Harry thinks he knows and can do. Interlopers especially those who mill around the corridors of power think the job description is just about holding a press conference or writing nonsense that pass for press releases, talking tough, threatening and abusing people. They think it is about gathering reporting channels and sharing out money to achieve desired objectives. Power wielders do all these and still come out worse and the question should be why. Tone alone in classical information management can create understanding and bring peace just as simple acknowledgement can. There are as well editorial policies, judgments and advancement involved. What do the practioners think?
This point must be made and it is very important. Outsiders have received attention because the professionals given the opportunity are lackluster, they seem clueless, hardly knowing what to do and at the right time. That is an issue. It is a throw up of public officials picking their friends irrespective of level of competence. Seminars can provide a cure. Yet, the biggest worry should be why media bodies like Nigeria Union Journalists and others are not putting a halt to recruitment of outsiders? Why?