Great expectations from NPA Public Affairs Dept post-retreat

MEDIA FRIEND ... The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman.
MEDIA FRIEND ... The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman.

The adoption and deployment of the media, particularly new media, have been confirmed as effective strategies for actualising whatever campaign efforts by an individual or organisation.

The activist group, #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) is campaigning for the safe return of the still missing numbers of the school girls kidnapped on April 14, 2014, from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.The BBOG is comprised of persons and group of persons from varied backgrounds. However, the common thread linking the BBOG members is that all the abducted girls must return home safe. Saturday, August 27, 2016, marked 866 days, or two years and 135 days, since 276 girls were abducted, with 58 returned and 218 still missing. Members of the BBOG and sympathisers are also united in their common approach of adopting and deploying the media towards the attainment of their goal.

Until President Muhammadu Buhari appointed her the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) with effect from July 11, 2016, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, who has been described as the founder of the group, was quite an active member of the BBOG. With the tendency of governments at the three tiers in Nigeria to consider activists or protesters, except their hired hands, as “security threats” and “enemies of the state”, has strong doubts that Usman could have secured appointment to the coveted positions of Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, and continued to hold the posts of overseeing the NPA, a blue chip business outfit of the Federal Government of Nigeria, while remaining a keen member of the BBOG. Very doubtful! Not after being made the ultimate numero uno of the NPA for over a month, before President Buhari finally gave her a Board Friday, August 26, 2016?

Usman has been described as an activist and politician, vocations that adopt and deploy media voraciously. Therefore, it is expected that the appointment of the media-savvy Usman as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the NPA may yet instigate a rejig of the Public Affairs Department in content and character, in order to align it with her ideals of the media.

Notably, Usman, it was learnt, is an aficionado of new media, bearing in mind that online publications are the global favourites for real time news and other information.

However, it was gathered that the NPA boss was dismayed, on assumption of office, to discover the NPA’s backwardness concerning the adoption and deployment of new media. It was learnt that she was sorely distressed to sight an NPA Website lacking real time updates in an era that conscientious adoption and deployment of information and communications technology (ICT) determine the levels of successes of business entities.

It was further learnt that Usman has issues with the facts that the NPA Public Affairs Department is purportedly overbloated, and that non-media personnel dominate the department, contributing to what industry watchers have described as its lacksture performance and resultant uncomplimentary image of the NPA in the eyes of its publics.

Consequently, the Public Affairs Department, as directed by the Managing Director, on Thursday, August 25, 2016, commenced a three-day retreat that aims to review the department’s current operational procedures, with a view to effecting whatever needed changes in order to enthrone much-needed dynamism and efficency in the system.

Hinged on the theme of “embracing the new vista” offered by new media, the retreat gathered a number of the department’s personnel from all over Nigeria to the Bon Voyage Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos State, South-West Nigeria, away from the potential distractions in all the facilities of the NPA, including the Corporate Headquarters, the NPA House, Marina, Lagos Island, Lagos State.

Curiously, there had been a shroud of suffocative secrecy over the retreat. As the event approached, mum was the word about any aspect of the retreat from every operative of the Public Affairs Department. It was only after broke the story, and, also, the scales having fallen off their eyes after being tutored that their cloak-and-dagger attitude contradicted the retreat’s theme of “embracing the new vista”, that the participants saw through their folly and began to make tweets on Twitter and posts on Facebook about the retreat. notes that whatever is the dynamism in reportage of the industry owes so much to the emergence of online publications, that have in a relatively short period become leading sources of real time  information for stakeholders, including the traditional media.

Will the NPA ever keep pace with the new media? Is it too much to expect that the NPA gets to act like any maritime outfit attuned to the latest trends in global best practices, by having a dynamic Website that enjoys real time updates? Will the NPA as an institution get to open a Twitter account and start making tweets about its activities? Facebook?

Change, it is said, is the only constant in life. Change is the mantra of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). Usman is an active member of the APC, and is expected to drive the needed changes at the NPA. Change might have just kickstarted at the Public Affairs Department. Only time, it said, will tell. posits that only time will tell if the retreat was a mere exercise that only took the participants away from routine of work for a few days, or one that rouses them to align the NPA to prevailing trends driven by new media.

The various publics of the NPA, notably the media, are filled with great expectations of positivity from the post-retreat Public Affairs Department. After all, retreat is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “the act of changing your opinion or position on something because it is unpopular”.

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