Most of my friends who are APC sympathisers have advised that the government slows down or abandons it’s current resort to “propaganda” and instead embrace “strategic communication” as a better strategy to win the soul of EVERYBODY and thereby inaugurate the peace it needs to govern.
I buy the objective but am not sure that the strategy is a viable option. A strategic communication programme is not implemented in a vacuum. If we go by the understanding that strategic communication is the science and art of managing two-way communication between and among a project’s stakeholders, there is a presumption that we have a strategic project in place.
As far as one can see, there is no strategic vision that is being executed. Instead, what we do have are two “reactive” activities taking place – pursuing those who allegedly looted Nigeria to cough out their loot and serve jail terms, and fighting to dislodge Boko Haram insurgents from Nigeria.
Both activities also appear to be in dire need of strategic focus. For instance, nothing has been heard about any strategic plan to prevent corruption from taking place as we speak (the 2016 Budget proposals expose the fact that corruption is alive and well.) Again, beyond the use of crude force, we should be thinking of developing strategic defense plans to engage and forestall developing harams such as the Shi’a Muslims challenge, IPOB, Fulani herdsmen, and Niger Delta Avengers, to mention but four. On economic recovery, the infrastructure development components that the administration met appear to have suddenly become more challenging to manage, including tasks that are not dependencies of Budget 2016.
I have argued elsewhere that the ministers are not to blame for resorting to propaganda to fill up the performance challenge. The real problem is that there does not appear to be any central, articulated strategy that the ministries are following. This leaves proactive ministers to articulate their best guess of a development vision based on the leader’s body language, and, for the less creative, a relapse to good old propaganda.
Inexperience (or lack of capacity, as OBJ put it) will ultimately be the bane of this government if it continues to run a non-inclusive administration. Part of the problem is this resort to appointing only those the leader “feels comfortable with” – whatever the interpretation. This will inevitably rob the leader of the opportunity to take great decisions based on a robust debate at meetings, rather than one-way thinking that has defined most public policies to date.
Let’s not kid ourselves on this one: there’s very little on the ground that can sustain a robust strategic communication initiative I’m afraid. And, let’s not confuse strategic governance with strategic communications. Strategic communications is what you integrate in your design of a strategic governance plan. Even a non-professional like Prof. Wole Soyinka understood this – that you really have to think through the problems of the moment and take a policy position on how to deal with it. Once this is done, strategic communication helps you communicate, establish buy-in, and manage feedback in an iterative process that leads to the achievement of objective.