The information management system of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration is inchoate, inadequate and downright confusing.
The Chief Executive of the Federation is hardly his own salesman. His officials appear to be competing in issuing conflicting information to the public. Is it deliberate?
In trying to paper over its communication challenges with the appointment of Dr Doyin Okupe as the Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, in addition to the existing post of Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity held by Dr Reuben Abati, matters are getting more chaotic. A presidential official would say one thing today and another official of the same government would emphatically contradict him, leaving Nigerians confused and wondering what is going on in the Presidency.
So many instances can be pointed at, but the most crucial ones include government statements on the report of the Mallam Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force, PRSTF, and the much touted “dialogue” with Islamic militants, Boko Haram. Okupe, described the Ribadu Report as “unimplementable”, giving the impression that the Presidency found it utterly useless.
Surprisingly, the same government set up a committee headed by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Nwogu, to look into the Report and issue a White Paper. Does the White Paper have a chance after Okupe had issued his own “white paper?
While the fuss was yet to settle, Dr Abati told media correspondents, “I can confirm to you that talks (between the Federal Government and Boko Haram) are going on in the background”. In his Presidential Media Chat on November 18, President Jonathan denied such talks, affirming that since the group had remained faceless the Federal Government would not discuss with it.
Given the importance of these two particular issues to the economy and security of the nation, we see the issuing of conflicting information to the public as a great disservice. The strange thing about it is that no official is ever reprimanded for deliberate, mischievous misinfor-mation of the public. The conclusion left to be drawn is that government sees nothing wrong in its serial duplicity in information management.
Nigerians have a constitutional right to be properly and truthfully informed about the ways they are being governed. Communication from government to the public should leave no one in doubt about government’s policies, programmes and intentions. Only a government with hidden agenda sees profit in creating confusion among members of the public.
The Presidency must conduct a thorough self-examination and rectify any impediment to a free flow of truthful, credible, accurate and timely flow of information to Nigerians, unless double speak has become one of its tools for managing information.