Information Officers are nobody’s errands boys and girls – Udeme Nana
By Etieno Ibanga
A Renowned Mass Communication Scholar , Dr Udeme Nana says any Information Officer employed by the Local Government Service Commission, the State or Federal Government is nobody’s private errand person.
Consequently, he has challenged Information Officers to build their capacity in order to be relevant in the 21st century, stressing that, any Information Officer whose capacity is not deepened will degenerate into a crude practitioner who uses unscientific rules of the thumb methods to provide below performance and becomes a harbinger of rumour and hearsay.
Dr Udeme Nana was speaking on the topic “Strengthening the Capacity of Information Officers for Strategic Partnership in Local Government Administration” at the lecture organised by Local Government Information Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists to mark her maiden Press Week.
Addressing Information Officers from the 31 Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State and guests who converged on the local Government Service Auditorium ,332 Oron Road Uyo, the erudite scholar said Information Officer whose capacity has not been strengthened would lose relevance, become obsolete, live in the past, cannot manage websites ,set up zoom meetings , participate in webinars, maintain presence on the other online platforms nor be able to even organise and handle live streaming of Public events involving the Local Government.
” This set of Information Officers end up as gigolos, errand Aides who run private errands and help the Council first ladies in their domestic chores” Nana emphasized.
According to Dr Nana, the era where Information Officers only function as a mere Press or Media Agent is now ancient history , owing to the 21st century -knowledge Society.
The Public Affairs Expert and Scholar posited that with Information Communication Technology, there is need for deliberate image-building and perception management, branding of both the Council Area as a corporate entity and the Council Administration ,stressing that, Public Affairs Management and Crisis management are additional loads which Information Officers should carry.
He said the role perception of Information Officers in local government include to collect collate, organise ,analyse, prioritise information for dissemination through various Media channels “from the crudest town crier to the very sophisticated Twitter users”.
Related to this , Dr Nana explained is media relations where Information Officers are expected to maintain close, mutually rewarding, result-oriented liaison with the Print Electronic, New media and digital Technology driven platforms.
The Former Media Adviser to Two Governors in Akwa Ibom State also listed the job of Information Officers as environmental scanning, media monitoring and surveillance to enable the officers draw attention to critical trending issues, events and ideas which could impact on the local Government Administration, speech making and public speaking at events.
The Chief Lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua, said that research and documentation of activities in Local Government Administration, Executive Spokespersons, Organisational Communication where the Officers are expected to write memos, Letters , Reports, Serve as Secretary in Committee and Panels are duties of Information Officers.
The Pioneer Coordinator, International Institute of Journalism, Uyo Center, noted that Information Officers are expected to produce Newspapers, Newsletters, Brochures, Events programme, Script Documentaries for Radio and Television, Write Announcement, Host and Manage website, and other online platforms for the Local Government Administration.
He stressed the need for strengthening the capacity of Information Officers in the areas of event management, website development, Branding of the executive chairmen and Council area, saying that, there is crying need for Information Officers to be media savvy- global, national, multimedia, local media, including skills in liaison with local economic Interest groups.
Dr Nana , the founder of Uyo Book Club , a fast growing Intellectual Hub challenged Information Officers to take advantage of the existence of the Book club to enhance self Development, build confidence, stimulate creativity and bring out writing talents.
The Member of the International Public Relations Association London, and Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, advocated hosting and sponsoring of annual workshops, seminars and Conferences by local government and the service Commission for Information Officers.
He commended the Local Government Information Chapel for the exercise adding that, Strengthening the capacity of Information Officers in Local Government would enhance productivity and strategic partnership in Local Government Administration.
The Chairman, Local Government Information Chapel, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State Council, Comrade Roseline Etukudo had remarked that the theme” Strengthening the Capacity of Information Officers for Strategic Partnership in Local Government Administration” was chosen in an attempt to chart a new road map in information management within the third tier of Government in the state.
Comrade Etukudo appreciated the seasoned Scholar, Dr Nana for the delivery which she noted ” has recreated a progressive mindset that will promote the collaboration between information purveyors and the Administrators at the local Government level”.