The State Commandants and Public Relations Officers (PRO’s) of all formations of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) converged at the Corps National Headquarters, Abuja for a 3-day conference to brainstorm on managing security sensitive information and developing effective strategies for a successful 2023 election.
The conference was aimed at increasing performance of the Corps at state levels through exposure of respective stakeholders and gatekeepers to new ways of communicating with the media on sensitive conflict issues.
Declaring the event opened, President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, emphasized that government has raised the bar of security and safety more assuredly than ever before in the country.
He commended security agencies in the country for the fight against insecurity, resilience and unwavering commitment to the nation’s socio economic development which is only possible in an atmosphere of peace and security.
He charged on the need for efficient relationship between heads of security formations and their spokespersons.
President Buhari said that the best way to manage strategic communication within and among security agencies is by ensuring that information managers have access to their bosses at all times.
He charged heads of security agencies to have confidence in the person managing the public relations affairs of the agencies.
“Give them a sense of belonging to do their job to the best of their ability”.
“Remembering Public Relations Officers only when in trouble is not the right way to go,” he advised.
The SA Media to Mr President advised that it is imperative for communication doors between security agencies, members of the public and the media to be kept open at all times.
“Don’t try to cover infractions when you make mistakes, there is a need to accept wrongs, quickly accept it”.
“Apologize to the public when you go wrong, this will help get them on your side and regain their confidence,” he said.
The NSCDC Commandant General (CG), Ahmed Audi said that the conference will address critical issues that will allay fears, probe challenges and entrench the ability to create an ambience of peace and security as 2023 elections draw nearer.
“Sensitivity is part of security architecture, this conference will further deepen knowledge in the handling of sensitive security information.
“The public has the right to know, however, their knowing has to be strategic as well for improved operational efficiency going forward,” he said.
Dr Audi explained that security agencies also rely on credible information by citizens which help to prevent crimes and manage conflicts.
According to him, “Every member of the society has a level of responsibility in ensuring security.
“Some need to volunteer information, some to provide counseling and some to engage in the theatre of the war itself.”
He emphasized that Strategic Communication channels must be improved upon and sustained to allow the public have confidence in security operatives.
“It is by so doing that the public will have more trust and confidence in working together with us,” he said.
The CG enjoined all Nigerians to work closely with security agencies while discarding all insensitive utterances and actions aimed at discrediting the efforts of the Federal Government in ensuring security and safety.
He urged Politicians not to politicize the security situation in the country as the Federal and State Governments step up strategies in the fight against terrorism and other crimes in the country.
At the event, National President of Nigeria Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Mr Mukhtar Sirajo, said that the training came at a critical time of security challenges that needs to be confronted by everyone.
Mr Sirajo explained that strategic communication is at the center of what Public Relations represents, adding that communication is a peculiar field that can only be managed by trained persons.
He emphasized the need for Public Relations Officers to practice legally by getting inducted as members of NIPR which is saddled with training of members alongside providing professional structure for practice of PR.
The Director of Public Relations, NSCDC, DCC Olusola Odumosu, while welcoming stakeholders, guests and participants from all over the country to the conference, emphasized that all hands must be on deck to move the country forward.
“So, I implore you critical stakeholders, my professional colleagues and in the spirit of nation building to open your eyes and minds so we can cross fertilize ideas on moving the country forward.
“Learn also, how to effectively communicate with the public in a manner that brings credibility and maintain the goodwill we enjoy in the eyes of the public,” he said.
A communique is expected to be developed at the end of the Conference which would be forwarded to the Management of the Corps for consideration and possible inclusion in the NSCDC Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
The Conference also had in attendance spokespersons of the Department of State Services (DSS), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Nigeria Correctional Service, Federal Fire Service, Nigeria Customs Service, amongst other media veterans.
DCC Olusola Odumosu
Director Public Relations
NSCDC NHQ, Abuja.